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Regional Report Triad December 2011


“We’ve been growing throughout the whole downturn.”
— Daryl Bible, chief financial officer of Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp., after the bank agreed to acquire BankAtlantic in November. Bible was referring to BB&T’s deposits minus CD accounts, which have fallen off since the recession started in December 2007. But its expansion has come with a price: Its 2009 acquisition of failed Colonial Bank forced it to write off millions of the bank’s nonperforming assets a year later.


Targacept’s stock tanks after its latest pill pops

Officials at Targacept Inc. say they have a shots-on-goal strategy for developing drugs. But lately not enough have been getting into the net, causing its once high-flying stock to slide. The latest miss came in November, when the Winston-Salem-based drug developer announced that its most promising compound, aimed at helping patients who don’t respond to traditional antidepressants, failed a clinical trial. Those who took the drug, TC-5214, showed little difference from those who took a placebo.

The market hammered Targacept, and its share price plummeted more than 60% in one day, from $19.12 to $7.61. That’s off its high of nearly $30 in March, just before the stock began falling due to an earlier trial that came in with lackluster results. (Through three quarters of 2011, Targacept had net income of about $1.3 million; last year it had nearly $13.1 million.)

Targacept develops drugs that target the brain’s nicotinic receptors, which play an important role in thinking and feeling. The company had promising early results, resulting in big payouts from major pharmaceuticals that wanted to license rights to its research. London-based AstraZeneca PLC signed a $1.24 billion development deal for TC-5214 in 2009, including a $200 million upfront payment. Targacept had problems with another compound, aimed at adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, earlier this year.


TROY— Food processor Aseptia, which does business as Wright Foods, plans to open a plant here by August and create 75 jobs within three years. The Raleigh-based company makes products that maintain the flavor, color and nutrients of fresh foods without refrigeration. The jobs will pay an average annual salary of $31,470, slightly higher than Montgomery County’s average of $30,264.

TROY — First Bancorp plans to acquire 11 branches of Whiteville-based Waccamaw Bank and their $180 million in deposits, as well as $98 million in loans. The 11 branches are in Brunswick and New Hanover counties and Horry County in South Carolina. Terms of the deal, expected to close in 2012, were not disclosed.

WINSTON-SALEMInmar, which provides companies with coupon-processing software, plans to add 120 employees to the 800 it has here and in Rural Hall by year-end. It needs the workers because of increased client demand.

WINSTON-SALEM — The Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and N.C. State University’s Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research will work together to develop regenerative-medicine treatments for people and animals. The research institutes will exchange students and faculty and collaborate on research projects.

WINSTON-SALEMHanesbrands promoted Richard Moss from treasurer to chief financial officer. He replaced E. Lee Wyatt Jr., who resigned in May. The apparel maker also appointed Gerald Evans Jr. and William Nictakis to co-chief operating officers, new positions in the company. Evans had been president of its international businesses and global supply chain. Nictakis was president of domestic businesses.

ASHEBOROFNB United completed its merger with Granite Falls-based Bank of Granite, which included a $310 million recapitalization led by private-equity companies The Carlyle Group, based in Washington, D.C., and Oak Hill Capital Partners, based in New York. Former First Union executive Brian Simpson was named CEO of the merged company, which will use the FNB United name and have $2.8 billion in assets, $2.4 billion in deposits and 63 branches.

GRENSBORO — John Robinson resigned as editor of the News & Record, effective Dec. 2. He worked nearly 27 years at the newspaper and was editor for 13.

BURLINGTON — Two U.S. senators are investigating Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings and four other medical-related companies. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Max Baucus of Montana, both Democrats, say the companies cut deals with doctors and insurers that defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.

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