Pharmasset, an antiviral and anticancer drug discovery and development company, is moving its entire operation from Atlanta, GA, to 30,000 square feet at the Princeton Forrestal Center.

The firm has about 30 employees and expects to be profitable and to be marketing two drugs for AIDS and hepatitis by 2007. The state Economic Development Authority approved a $1.7 million Business Employment Incentive Program grant based on Pharmasset growing to a staff of 65 people at 303-A College Road, formerly occupied by Orchid Cellmark (previously known as Orchid BioSciences) and owned by National Business Parks. Tom Stange represented National Business Parks. Pharmasset has signed a five-year lease. Orchid is now located at 4390 Route 1 north.

"Access to experienced pharmaceutical talent in the area was the key factor in our decision to move," says Schaefer Price, Pharmasset president and CEO. He adds that the company evaluated scientific hubs throughout the country and determined that Princeton offers an "ideal combination of industry infrastructure and quality of life that will allow the company to grow in support of our small molecule research and clinical development pipeline of antiviral therapeutics."

The move will also give Pharmasset easier geographic access to Incyte and Hoffmann-La Roche, corporate partners for its HIV and Hepatitus C virus collaborations, says Alan S. Roemer, vice president.

In New Jersey, the life sciences sector includes operations for more than 75 percent of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and a growing biotechnology cluster, according to Debbie Hart, president of the state’s Biotechnology Council. "New Jersey also has more scientists and engineers per capita than any other place in the world, with approximately 62,000 people reporting to work each day in its pharmaceutical and life sciences industries."

Pharmasset is an emerging pharmaceutical company committed to the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel antiviral drugs. The company leverages its expertise in nucleoside chemistry to develop therapeutics to combat infections caused by drug-resistant HIV and hepatitis viruses.

Last August Pharmasset was valued at $125 million and was reported to have 16,500 square feet at 1860 Montreal Road in Tucker, Georgia. At that time the firm hired Price, its first full-time CEO.

The company’s product candidates include ClevudineT, which is in late-stage clinical trials for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis B, ReversetT and Racivirr, two drugs in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of HIV, and several other antiviral compounds in advanced preclinical studies.

Pharmasset has nine SBIR grants from the National Institutes of Health, worth more than $1 million, that target smallpox and related viruses. Work on "pox" viruses, which can be tools for bioterrorism, is a high priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The company has a high profile in Atlanta, thanks to $40 million in venture capital funding and a colorful serial entrepreneur, Raymond Schinazi. Schinazi, the son of an Egyptian business man and a pioneer in AIDS research at Emory University, co-developed one of the earliest AIDS "cocktails" that now has annual sales of $1.2 billion.

In 1998 Schinazi co-founded Pharmasset on his credit card, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Also in 1998 Schinazi co-founded Boston-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDIX) to develop drugs for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and Idenix went public in 2004.

Pharmasset Inc., 303-A College Road, Suite A, Princeton 08540. Alan S. Roemer, vice president, finance and investor relations. 609-613-4125; fax, 609-613-4150. www.pharmasset.com

Lenox Sold; Teleglobe on the Block

Fine china and sterling silver is no longer a must for the trousseau of today’s bride, and as a result of the decline in the market for "tabletop" accessories, one of New Jersey’ premiere china companies has been sold.

Brown-Forman Corporation announced on July 21 that it has sold Lenox Inc. to Department 56 for $190 million. The company also plans to sell the Lenox headquarters property on Princeton Pike in a separate transaction.

Brown-Forman bought Lenox in 1983 for about $413 million, and added Dansk tableware and Baltimore-based sterling silver manufacturers Kirk and Stieff to that division.

Brown-Forman warned it was exploring a possible sale of the Lenox division last February in order to focus on its beverage business, which includes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Southern Comfort.

"The environment for this business has been challenging for several years as evidenced by the weakness throughout the U.S. tabletop and giftware industry," says Owsley Brown II, CEO of the Kentucky-based parent company. "We believe Department 56 is very well positioned to focus exclusively on and grow this outstanding portfolio of brands."

At press time no announcement had been made about whether the headquarters staff on Princeton Pike would move to Minneapolis or stay in New Jersey, nor about who would market the Lenox Drive property.

"We thought we could get more value of prime real estate by selling it separately, but any number of scenarios are possible," says Phil Lynch, spokesperson for Brown-Forman. "We could sell it someone who would lease it to Department 56, or we could sell it to someone who wanted to use the property."

Founded in 1976 and headquartered near Minneapolis, Department 56 (NYSE: DFS) has flagship stores in Bloomington, Minnesota; Las Vegas; San Francisco; Chicago; Orlando; and at Disneyland in California.

It designs, distributes, wholesales, and retails fine quality collectibles and other giftware products that are sold through gift, home accessory and specialty retailers, department stores, and general merchandise chains, as well as through its own stores and consumer-direct home show sales.

Lenox was founded in Trenton in 1889 and has been providing dinner service to the White House since 1918. Its brands include Lenox fine china, crystal, collectibles, and giftware; Dansk contemporary tableware and giftware; Gorham silver, crystal and china; and Kirk Stieff silver and pewter products.

Lenox has 2,850 employees worldwide, including 300 in central New Jersey. The part of the company that is being sold had sales of $465 million for the fiscal year ending April 30.

Meanwhile, another Princeton area company is up for sale. Teleglobe International Holdings Ltd., formerly ITXC, a provider of telephone service over the internet with offices on College Road East, has been sold for the second time in a year. Teleglobe, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda, announced on July 25 that it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) for $178 million. VSNL is India’s leading provider of international communications and Internet services.

Teleglobe, a provider of international telecommunications services to Internet service providers, fixed and mobile network operators, bought ITXC last year. The company has not announced the fate of the 100 employees working at the company’s Plainsboro location.

Lenox Inc., Lenox Products Group (BFB), 100 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville 08648-2394. Jay Hanauer, CEO. 609-896-2800; fax, 609-895-0139. www.lenox.com

Teleglobe International Holdings, 750 College Road East, Princeton, 08540. 609 750-3333; fax, 609-419-1511. www.teleglobe.com.

Stock News

Heartland Payment Systems, 47 Hulfish Street, Suite 400, Princeton 08542. Robert Baldwin, CFO. 609-683-3831; fax, 609-683-3815. www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com

Heartland Payment Systems, a seven-year-old company, has named the potential price – $14 to $16 per share – for its $75 million stock offering. The company will sell 2.6 million shares of common stock and stockholders intend to sell an additional 4.1 million shares in the IPO. It has applied to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol HPY.

Listed as being located in 5,000 square feet on Hulfish Street, it is planning a move to 9,300 feet on two floors at 90 Nassau Street.

The firm provides bank card-based payment processing services to 101,500 small-and medium-sized merchants in the United States. According to the Nilson Report it is the seventh largest card acquirer in the United States ranked by purchase volumce (including credit and debit Visa and MasterCard transactions) but this represents just 1.8 percent of the total bank card processing market.

Some of the proceeds from the offering will be used to pay down $2.9 million of debt, the company has said, and $5.25 million will be used to redeem warrants to purchase 1 million shares of common stock.

Expansions

Wong Wong & Associates, 12 Roszel Road, Suite A 102, Princeton 08540. Raymond H. and Valerie Wong. 609-683-1168; fax, 609-683-3798. www.raymondhwong.com

Ninety percent of the clients for Wong Wong & Associates speak Cantonese and Mandarin. With seven lawyers, this is the largest law firm in the Chinese American community on the east coast, says Raymond Wong. Based in Manhattan, it focuses on immigration, landlord/tenant, patent, and real estate law.

The Wongs bought an office condominium at 12 Roszel Road from Creative Business Decisions last year, but CBD had the right to remain there through the end of June. Now renovations are under way for the Wongs’ expanded space. "Most of the lawyers work in New York, but when our new office is renovated, we will staff it more people," says Wong.

He majored in chemical engineering at the City College of New York, Class of 1980, and was studying for his PhD when he was elected to the New York Democratic State Committee, an event that triggered his law career. "I was volunteering, stuffing envelopes, and people saw I was motivated, and I ran and won," he says. "At my first meeting I saw many lawyers there. I figured that to represent people on the Lower East Side more effectively I should go to law school.

His mother, a seamstress, immigrated from China with three children and was their sole provider because his father, an engineer, was not allowed to leave the country. Wong’s older sister is a hospital administrator and his young sister has been an engineer, a lawyer, and a filmmaker.

Wong’s wife, Valerie, a chemist, graduated in 1985 from Nankai University, where her parents were chemistry professors. As one of the top 50 students in China, she came to this country to join her first husband at Ohio State and earn her PhD. She worked as a chemist at Sterling Winthrop and SmithKlineBeecham, and had two children, but her marriage was unhappy; she was a battered wife. Her husband tried to choke her, she says, and threatened her with a knife. So she got a restraining order against him and filed for divorce.

When her first lawyer told her she was "too strong," she switched lawyers and hired Raymond Wong. "Raymond was like Chinese food, cheap and good," she says.

Next she was helping Wong with his office work, and soon she decided to go to law school herself. She, too, entered politics; she is the treasurer for Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein. She married Wong; together they have six children, and she is the managing attorney for the Princeton office.

"Both of us have science and engineering backgrounds," says Raymond Wong, "so we do a lot of patent law, but we are also handling a murder case in New York State. Our main job is litigation; we always fight with bigger law firms."

"Now that I am a lawyer and people tell me all kinds of horrible stories, I know exactly how they feel, and I can take care of them," says Valerie Wong. "Panicking doesn’t help."

Hutchinson Industries (TOT), 460 Southard Street, Trenton 08638. Pascal Seradarian, president. 609-394-1010; fax, 609-394-2031. www.hutchinsoninc.com

Hutchinson Industries has added 25,000 square-foot warehouse to a factory at 250 Ewing Street. The factory makes aluminum truck wheels, mostly for the federal government. Other products are run-flat rubber and security products.

The 105-year-old firm is owned by the French petroleum company Total. A total of 230 people work in Trenton, where the firm has other facilities at 309 North Clinton Avenue, 642 East State Street, 84 Parker Avenue, and 106 Mulberry.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Middlesex County, 42 Riva Avenue, North Brunswick 08902. Bill Hlubik, county department head. 732-745-3445; fax, 732-745-3478. www.co.middlesex.nj.us/extensionservices

The Middlesex County office of Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension has moved into a new location at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park in South Brunswick. It offers educational, research based programs to the public, often for free or a minimal charge.

Features of the new facility include the handicapped accessible herb and vegetable display gardens installed by the Middlesex County Master Gardeners and new shade and ornamental trees that were planted to show homeowners what’s available to add to their landscape.

The agricultural department will give classes, sell soil test kits, and accept pest & disease samples, and the 4-H department will also be here.

Leaving Town

TCM Inc./Thermal Solutions Inc., 260 Turner Industrial Way, Aston 19014. Jerry McFadden, sales manager. 800-220-1517; fax, 610-859-8944. www.teamindustrialservices.com

Thermal Solutions moved from Windsor Industrial Park, as a result of a buyout by a public company, Team Industrial Services, based in Alvin, Texas. As a division of the Texas firm, it has a new name, TCM Inc., but it does the same work as before, on-site thermal processing for the petrochemical and power generating industries.

"On May 1 eight people in the operating group moved from Windsor Industrial Park to Aston, Pennsylvania, and were rolled into the existing group there," says Dennis Thompson, manager of TCM’s technical support group.

A 1969 graduate of New York University, Thompson has a master’s in engineering from NYU, and did doctoral work in machine design at Rutgers. He works onsite and has a home office.

Every weld seam on a pressure vessel at a refinery needs to be heat treated to relieve its stress, and TCM is devoted to these safety procedures. Its thermal services include thermal processing and nondestructive evaluation.

Both halves of the newly merged firm serve the same industry, and TCM reportedly represents half of the business, or about $100 million annually. The other half of the firm, now called Team Mechanical Services, offers leak sealing, onsite machining, hot tapping, valve repair, and emissions monitoring.

Contracts Awarded

Billtrust, 92 North Main Street, Building 19-E, Unit E, Windsor Industrial Park, Box 480, Windsor 08561. Flint Lane, president. 609-580-0050; fax, 609-580-0041. www.billtrust.com

Billtrust, a billing service provider for the distribution industry, struck a deal with DMSi Software, which has business management solutions for lumber wholesalers and building material distributors.

DMSi Software will offer Billtrust’s CompleteBilling Service to its clients. It includes outsourced paper and electronic billing, an online customer service tool, expert bill redesign, and in-bill marketing. DMSi’s customers can choose to electronically transmit bills to Billtrust for processing, which could cut billing costs by more than 50 percent.

Maptext Inc., 666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 1025, Plainsboro 08536. Herbert Freeman, president. 609-716-7552; fax, 609-716-7553. Home page: www.maptext.com

MapText has sold its automatic text placement software, Label-EZ, to the Virginia Department of Transportation. This easy-to-configure software will be used to place names on maps quickly and cost-effectively, but still according to the highest cartographic standards, . The company’s worldwide roster of clients now includes the transportation department of 13 states and two Canadian provinces.

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