Hooters Parent Company Merges With Biopharma Firm

Hooters, 400 Mercer Mall, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-520-9464

Sonnet BioTherapeutics, 100 Overlook Drive, Second Floor, Princeton 08540. 609-375-2227. Panjak Mohan, founder and executive chairman. sonnetbio.com.

Chanticleer Holdings (Nasdaq: BURG) — the restaurant group that owns Hooters and several other chain establishments — is getting into the cancer drug research business via a reverse merger with privately held Overlook Drive-based Sonnet BioTherapeutics.

The new company will trade under the Sonnet name and will be led by Sonnet’s current board of directors, with Sonnet founder Panjak Mohan serving as CEO. The company plans to spin off Hooters, American Burger Company, BGR – Burgers Grilled Right, Little Big Burger, and Just Fresh restaurants into their own company owned by the current BURG shareholders.

Sonnet is developing immunotherapy cancer treatments that utilize albumin, a protein made in the liver, to transport antibodies to target tissues. Hooters specializes in restaurants where scantily clad waitresses serve hot wings.

Although the two companies may appear to make strange bedfellows, transactions like this are common in the corporate world. The maneuver will allow privately owned Sonnet to begin trading on the stock market without having to go through the complicated and expensive process of an initial public offering. BURG stock has fallen precipitously in the past year, dropping from $2.42 a share last October to $0.80 per share as of press time.

$8 Billion Jury Award in Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson

A judge in Philadelphia has ordered the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who says he grew breasts after taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals had previously been ordered to pay $680,000 to the plaintiff in compensatory damages.

The plaintiff, Nicholas Murray of Maryland, says he grew breasts after taking the drug starting in 2003 to treat symptoms of autism. He alleged that the company had not disclosed the full side effects the drug might have.

The unusually large jury award could be lowered on appeal. The law firms Arnold & Itkin, of Texas, and the Philadelphia firms Kline & Specter and Sheller are representing Murray as well as about 10,000 other men who say the drug caused them to grow large breasts. In a previous case, a jury awarded $2.5 million to a boy who said he grew size 46DD breasts after taking the drug.

The company said the latest verdict was grossly disproportionate and that the jury had not been allowed to hear evidence of the drug’s benefits.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), 1 Johnson & Johnson Plaza, New Brunswick 08903. 732-524-0400. Alex Gorsky, chairman & CEO. www.jnj.com.

Investment

OncoSec, 24 North Main Street, Pennington 08534. Daniel O’Connor, CEO. www.oncosec.com.

The biotech company, which is developing immunotherapy-based cancer treatments, has received a major investment from a Chinese company. Last fall, it got a $15 million infusion from a South Korean investor.

The newest investment is $30 million from Grand Decade Developments Limited, a subsidiary of China Grand Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Holdings and its affiliate, Sirtex Medical US Holdings, Inc. The cash will help OncoSec complete two clinical trials of its cancer treatment, TAVO, in conjunction with immunotherapy drug Keytruda. One trial is for melanoma, the other for breast cancer.

The transaction gives the investment group 53 percent of OncoSec common shares and three of nine seats on its board. OncoSec will grant Grand Decade and its affiliates an exclusive license to develop, manufacture, commercialize, or otherwise exploit OncoSec’s current and future products, including TAVO and OncoSec’s new Visceral Lesion Applicator in Asia in exchange for 20 percent royalties.

“This infusion of capital would significantly strengthen OncoSec’s balance sheet and provide support to complete our ongoing pivotal clinical trial, KEYNOTE-695, in checkpoint-refractory metastatic melanoma in combination with KEYTRUDA and our ongoing clinical trial, KEYNOTE-890, in chemo-refractory metastatic triple negative breast cancer,” said Daniel O’Connor, OncoSec CEO.

“CGP is a global pharmaceutical company that has significant interests and holdings in the immuno-oncology space with the expertise and infrastructure to broadly introduce TAVO within these important Greater China markets where there remains a significant unmet need in a variety of cancers, while also providing support to our development activities elsewhere. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with them.”

The transaction is conditional on shareholder and regulatory approval.

Rutgers, Other Awarded $3.6M Grant for Minority Aging

A new collaborative led by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research has received a $3.6 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to increase participation of New Jersey minority older adults in research.

“New Jersey ranks among the top states in the country for overall health, but it is also among the worst in health equity. For the state’s 1.3 million older adults, there are equally large disparities, especially among those who are black, Hispanic or Asian, and who too often are not being sustainably engaged in research,” said IFH Director Dr. XinQi Dong, the lead researcher.

The New Jersey Minority Aging Collaborative will bring together researchers and community leaders to help support the recruitment and retention of minority older adults in studies, particularly those interested in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, mental health, health policy and interactions with health care providers.

Community partner organizations include Rutgers three campuses, as well as Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging Research, Rutgers New Jersey Cooperative Extension, Rutgers/RWJBarnabas Health, the Center for Asian Health at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Trenton Health Team, and New Brunswick Tomorrow.

Community leaders will guarantee studies reflect real-life challenges and genuine feedback from aging adults, providing researchers with more relevant information to study.

“Trenton Health Team is proud to partner with RU to make sure the voices and experience of our community members are reflected in this NIH project,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “To create innovative solutions, research must be rooted in the community.”

Currently, NJMAC is focused on Newark, New Brunswick, and Trenton, but it has plans to expand to other New Jersey areas.

Contract

IXP Corp., 103 Main Street, Princeton Forrestal Village, Suite 100, Princeton 08540. 609-759-5100. William E. Metro, CEO. www.ixpcorp.com.

IXP Corporation, a company that manages 911 call centers, has entered into a consulting contract with York County, Pennsylvania, to reorganize and improve the training, management structure, and operational processes of the county’s 911 center. The $750,000, six-month contract will allow the company to fill the non-union jobs at the call center.

An IXP audit in June found the county’s 911 operations to be “broken.”

“This new project underscores our expertise in transforming 911 centers into high performance organizations,” says William E. Metro, CEO of IXP Corporation. “Through a series of business process reengineering activities, coupled with oversight and coordination of the change management system, we will permanently resolve decades of issues in York County.”

“During the past 20 years IXP has established an unparalleled ability to design solutions that deliver the highest level of operational and technical efficiency for emergency communications organizations. We commend York County for its commitment to addressing longstanding operational challenges and look forward to leading the overhaul and notable improvement of the 911 center,” said Lawrence Consalvos, IXP’s COO.

The contract between York County and IXP was passed by the York County commissioner following IXP’s audit of the county’s 911 system that was completed in June. The report detailed the county’s 911 deficiencies and provided an overview of changes required to improve the center’s performance. The contract between York County and IXP includes an option to further the consulting relationship based on performance metrics and goals.

IXP’s recommendations focus on enhancing service levels by streamlining dispatch processes, improving the relationships between the 911 center and county fire/EMS and law enforcement agencies, and upgrading management and training approaches.

Merger

World and Main, 324 Cranbury Half Acre Road, Cranbury 08512. 800-523-1268. Bryan Yeazel, CEO. www.worldandmain.com.

Nova Capital Management, a London-based company, has acquired Florida-based Craig Electronics and will create a new corporate entity — H2 Brands Group — that will operate out of Cranbury.

The new group will include World and Main, a household products distributor, along with Shur-Line and Bulldog, all headquartered in Cranbury, and Craig. Shur-Line and Bulldog make home improvement products.

“The merger of Craig Electronics with H2 Brands provides our customers with additional product adjacencies and speed to market while also enhancing service/delivery through a more robust warehouse and freight network. I look forward to working with Michael to further bolster the capabilities of H2 Brands for the benefit of our valued customers,” said Mark Rostagno, CEO of H2 Brands Home and Hardware.

The combined H2 Brands company will have locations in St. Francis, Wisconsin; Freeport, Illinois; Miami, Los Angeles; Wuxi, China; and Hong Kong and will sell more than 12,000 different products.

Management Moves

Verus Claims Services LLC, 2000 Lenox Drive, Suite 206, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-466-0427. Mark Eveland, CEO. www.verusllc.com.

Verus LLC, a litigation support services firm, has promoted three executives. Matthew Nissen has been promoted to chief strategy officer; Lori Todaro to chief resource officer; and Scott Heisman to chief integration officer.

“We are growing our C-Suite with an eye towards streamlining our organization and aligning important business functions that will allow Verus to add even greater value for current clients, while also positioning the firm for exponential growth,” said Mark Eveland, CEO.

“Matt, Lori, and Scott are experts in their respective arenas and have already proven their ability to execute as a team. We look forward to their contributions in these new senior executive roles at Verus,” he said.

Nissen was previously as director of finance. Before joining Verus, he held positions with a “Big 4” CPA firm. He is a CPA and an adjunct professor at Rider University, where he teaches strategic management and policy and auditing. He has an MBA from Rider.

Todaro previously worked in human resources. She is certified in numerous HR-related applications. She has a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University.

Heisman was previously director of operations. He has managed business and information technology professionals and processes since 1998 and specializes in the design of mass tort litigation systems and accompanying operational processes. He previously worked at the Center for Claims Resolution. He has a bachelor’s degree from Drexel and a master’s from LaSalle.

Deaths

Fred Withum, 84, on September 30. He co-founded Princeton-based accounting and advisory firm Withum­Smith+Brown in 1974 and retired in 1987.

Rudolph J. Girandola, 93, on October 9. He was a former newspaper editor, reporter, and sports writer for the Hartford and Trenton Times.

Wanda Bolin Bunn, 75, on October 10. She was employed for 24 years by L’Oreal in Cranbury, retiring in 2009, and previously for Dow Jones Corp in Dayton.

William K. Hogan, 95, on October 7. He was an administrator at St. Francis Medical Center for almost 40 years and was then CEO of Helene Fuld Medical Center from 1986 to 1993.

James A. Ross, 78, of East Windsor, on October 4. He led a career in supply chain and logistics for various Fortune 500 companies before establishing his own industrial and healthcare cleaning business, New Perspectives, that he ran as founder and CEO.

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