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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Hyland Unit May Move Its Headquarters to East County

Biotechnology: Baxter International division, which has outgrown Glendale site, would complement its Thousand Oaks plant. Decision is due this summer.

April 24, 2001|MARGARET TALEV | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The east county's biotechnology industry got a boost Monday when Baxter International announced tentative plans to move its biosciences division headquarters to Thousand Oaks later this year.

The company's Hyland Immuno division already has a manufacturing plant in Thousand Oaks with 540 employees. If it relocates its headquarters from Glendale, on a site it has outgrown, that would bring 300 jobs to east Ventura County. An additional 200 jobs could be created this year in business development, marketing and human resources, company spokeswoman Tali Kaplan said.

Regional economist Mark Schniepp characterized the possible move as "a pretty big deal" for Thousand Oaks, which has been home to biotechnology giant Amgen for two decades but had been slow to draw comparably large players in the field.

Hyland Immuno reported $2 billion in revenue last year, making it second only to Amgen in terms of biopharmaceutical sales, Kaplan said. In addition to treatments for hemophiliacs, the division makes pharmaceuticals for patients with immune system deficiencies, and manufactures vaccines and treatments to heal wounds and burns.

"We always wondered why Amgen was just sitting there lonely," Schniepp said. "Maybe this will be the beginning of the development of a larger cluster. Those are important jobs that are going to create spinoff effects."

Thousand Oaks City Manager MaryJane Lazz said city officials have been in talks with the company for at least two months and would be willing to expedite the processing of paperwork needed to make the move happen.

"They're going to be an exceptional addition," she said. "I think it enhances what we see as the emerging biotech center here."

In 1994, Baxter built a Hyland Immuno manufacturing plant near Amgen, where it produces Recombinate, a treatment for hemophiliacs. That plant is also in the process of expanding.

Baxter officials have been active in a local biotech networking group and in efforts to develop manufacturing training programs at Ventura County community colleges and the future Cal State Channel Islands campus.

Larry Rollins, a financial consultant for A. G. Edwards & Sons in Santa Barbara, said Baxter is a strong company.

Its profits this year are $214 million, compared with $191 million a year ago, he said. He added that earnings were 71 cents a share versus 65 cents a year ago, and that revenue jumped 11% in the last year.

The move is not a done deal--the company has until late this summer to exercise an option on a 26-acre parcel of land in eastern Thousand Oaks near the Hyatt--and negotiations with city officials on the terms of such a move are ongoing.

Other possible sites for a new headquarters are as close as Pasadena and as far as away as Switzerland.

But Thousand Oaks' well-regarded public school system, shopping and overall quality of life, combined with Baxter's manufacturing presence, makes it the front-runner, Kaplan said.

"There are some very compelling reasons to locate there, and we hope it works out," she said.

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