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Merck to move HQ in New Jersey

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck is moving its global headquarters from Whitehouse Station, N.J., to its existing property in Summit, N.J., which currently houses research, manufacturing, animal health and consumer care operations.

The drug maker said about 2,000 employees and contractors currently situated at the Whitehouse Station global headquarters building — which has been home for the company since 1992 after moving from Rahway, N.J. — either will move to the new facilities in Summit or to other nearby facilities, such as those in Branchburg, N.J. and Cokesbury, N.J.

The headquarters relocation is part of the company’s ongoing program to consolidate its global real estate footprint and lower its annual operating expenses, following its merger with Schering-Plough in 2009. The transition process is expected to begin in 2014 and be completed in mid-2015.

"The relocation of our headquarters will help us achieve our future vision, reduce the size of our operating footprint, and increase agility as we adapt to our changing business environment," Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said.


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H-E-B’s first Community Slim Down Showdown on FB encourages 956 lost pounds across 24 dieters

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN ANTONIO — Over the past four months, 24 contestants from across Texas have been working hard to adopt healthy habits and shed pounds, and on Sunday H-E-B named Alison Spangler from San Antonio as the $10,000 grand-prize winner of its first-ever Community Slim Down Showdown competition.

Alison lost 48 lbs and slimmed down from a size 24 to a size 16. A graphic design teacher at John Paul Stevens High School, Alison said her lifestyle has changed completely since she began the competition in June.

“Before, I wasn’t doing anything at all. Zero. Now I exercise every day,” she said.

Over the four-month challenge, the 24 contestants lost a total of 956 lbs and showed off their healthier frames to hundreds of cheering supporters in an emotional makeover reveal ceremony at Pearl Stable on Sunday. In addition to weight loss, the contestants improved their health numbers significantly — total cholesterol for the group dropped by 804 points.

Applications for the 2013 Slim Down Showdown are now being accepted through Oct. 21 at HEB.com/slimdown.

H-E-B determined the overall winner using three metrics: overall health and weight loss, participation and fan engagement. 

Lorena Flournoy, a school social worker from Austin, won the $5,000 “fan favorite” prize rewarding the contestant who was able to engage the most online activity and chatter on their blog — Lorena lost 53 lbs during the competition and garnered nearly 32,000 likes, shares and comments on her blog.

Overall, the contestants penned more than 1,300 blogs, attracting a quarter of a million page views and 63,000 comments.

On Sunday, H-E-B president Craig Boyan decided to also reward the contestant with the most dramatic weight loss and health results. Reuben Ybarra, a public health nurse from Victoria, was named a “Healthy Hero” and won $3,000 for losing 85 lbs.

“I was so inspired,” Boyan said. “It’s not easy to share yourself and expose yourself in that way. We are really proud of our contestants. We think they are ambassadors for the state of Texas and H-E-B.”

The contest began in June with an intensive, 4.5-day wellness seminar in San Antonio with experts from H-E-B, Methodist Healthcare and the Cooper Aerobics Center. Each contestant received a full health screening and learned about nutrition, how to control portions and how much exercise their body needs to stay healthy.

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Matrixx ups takeover bid of ProPhase to $1.60 per share

BY Michael Johnsen

SKILLMAN, N.J. — Matrixx Initiatives on Tuesday announced its second overture to ProPhase Labs with an increased acquisition offer of $1.60 per share. The revised offer represents a premium of 51.7% over the 30-day average closing price of ProPhase’s stock and a 53.7% premium to ProPhase’s average closing price over the 12 months preceding Sept. 6 — the day ProPhase’s former chairman and CEO, Guy Quigley, filed a Schedule 13D announcing Matrixx’s purchase of a three-year option to acquire 1.45 million shares of ProPhase common stock.

On Sept. 4, Matrixx purchased for $200,000 a three-year option to acquire the shares for $1.40 per share from Quigley. Matrixx also acquired from Quigley a voting proxy to vote the shares subject to the option.

Matrixx initially had proposed an all-cash acquisition of ProPhase for $1.40 per share on May 29.

The danger in entertaining such a proposal, ProPhase announced in September, is that it makes nonpubilc, competitive information available to a direct competitor as a pre-condition to the sale. Both Matrixx and ProPhase field the two best known zinc gluconate brands — Zicam and Cold-Eeze, respectively.

ProPhase also stated that Matrixx had undervalued the company at $1.40 per share. "It is the current shareholders of ProPhase, not the private equity owners of one of our primary competitors, who should benefit from the future potential created by our current strategies," ProPhase chairman and CEO Ted Karkus said in the Sept. 17 statement. "We preserved the Cold-Eeze brand, then we repositioned the brand and now we are successfully growing and leveraging the brand."

Regarding its revised offer, Matrixx CEO Marylou Arnett said, "We believe our revised all-cash offer is highly attractive to ProPhase shareholders and we hope to commence discussions with ProPhase at the earliest opportunity. Our offer is especially attractive when considering that we believe ProPhase faces significant challenges by remaining as a standalone entity, including lack of scale, an unsustainable financial model and limited liquidity. We continue to believe that a combination of ProPhase and Matrixx presents an exciting opportunity for our respective employees, business partners and other constituencies while delivering significant and certain value to ProPhase shareholders."

In a letter to ProPhase, Matrixx stated: "We believe this revised all-cash offer, which is not contingent on financing, is highly attractive to the company’s shareholders, as it provides them with compelling upfront and certain value relative to a difficult, uncertain and highly speculative multiyear turnaround program you have recently outlined. In fact, we believe that ProPhase faces significant challenges by remaining a standalone entity."


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