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Business in brief

Joslin Center building gets nod from the BRA

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April 30, 2008

THE REGION
The Boston Redevelopment Authority board unanimously approved a 335,600-square-foot research and medical building on the Joslin Diabetes Center block of the Longwood Medical Area. The Joslin Center will have 8,400 square feet of retail and restaurant space, about twice as much as when the project was first approved in a different form in 2003. The 150 residences planned five years ago have been eliminated. National Development of Newton and partners, which purchased the project from Joslin, hope to start construction on the glass structure later this year. An opening is planned for spring of 2011 for the building, nine floors at its tallest, and designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston. (Thomas C. Palmer Jr.)

Children's Hospital OK'd to add 2 floors, 39 beds
The main building of Children's Hospital Boston, in the Longwood Medical Area, will grow by two floors, including 60,000 square feet of space under a plan unanimously approved by the BRA. When it opens in 2011, the addition will have room for 39 more beds at the 386-bed facility, hospital executives said. Meanwhile, the BRA board approved a four-story, 143,000-square-foot office building in the Hood Business Park on Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown, the first new construction and the latest phase in redevelopment of the 20-acre property, formerly used as the headquarters for the Hood milk company. (Thomas C. Palmer Jr.)

Wyeth to shed 1,200 jobs; Mass. reductions unknown
Pharmaceuticals giant Wyeth, which has operations in Andover and Cambridge, said it plans to eliminate 1,200 jobs, or 2 percent of its worldwide workforce. That is in addition to 1,200 sales jobs the company eliminated last month. Company spokesman Doug Petkus said the latest job reductions will "affect all facilities worldwide" and "cut across a variety of job types." Petkus declined to say how many workers would be affected in Massachusetts or when the jobs will be eliminated. Wyeth began notifying workers about the cuts on Friday. Petkus said Wyeth is reducing expenses in response to declining revenue from its heartburn drug Protonix, which now faces competition from generic versions. Wyeth has about 2,700 employees in Massachusetts. (Todd Wallack)

State's top court upholds ruling vs. wireless firms
The Supreme Judicial Court upheld a tax board ruling that wireless cellphone carriers are not telephone companies - a decision that will make it difficult for wireless companies to claim a tax exemption that could allow them to avoid paying tens of millions in property taxes. Last year, Verizon Wireless appealed an Appellate Tax Board decision that wireless carriers were not phone companies, which may qualify for corporate utility exemptions that exclude poles and wires over public ways from taxation. Verizon Wireless "maintains that our refusal to treat it as a telephone company . . . will chill innovation in the wireless telecommunications industry," the SJC decision said. "That, however, is a policy matter for the Legislature." (Carolyn Y. Johnson)

Genentech, Biogen Idec's Rituxan fails against lupus
Genentech Inc. and Biogen Idec Inc.'s cancer drug Rituxan failed in a study as a treatment for lupus, sending down shares of both companies and those of Roche Holding AG, Genentech's majority owner. The study fell short on all measures of effectiveness, Biogen Idec and Genentech said. Lupus is a disease in which the immune system goes awry and attacks healthy tissue as if it were a foreign virus, causing inflammation and pain. (Bloomberg)

Boston Properties net falls to $88.7m in 1st quarter
Boston Properties Inc., the largest US office real estate investment trust, said first-quarter profit fell from a year earlier, when results were lifted by the $1.28 billion sale of a Times Square office tower. Net income fell to $88.5 million, or 73 cents a share, from $854 million, or $6.99, the company said. (Bloomberg)

THE NATION
Banks in Clear Channel row lose their bid to delay trial
Citigroup Inc. and five other banks lost a bid to delay until next year a trial over a Clear Channel Communications Inc. lawsuit accusing them of reneging on a deal to finance its $19.5 billion acquisition by two buyout firms. The banks said they were seeking to postpone the June 2 trial in Texas state court in San Antonio until January to allow more time to prepare, according to documents. Judge Lori Massey rejected the motion. Bain Capital LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, both of Boston, sued the banks March 26 in New York for refusing to fund their purchase of San Antonio-based Clear Channel. The company sued the banks the same day in Texas, seeking more than $26 billion in damages. (Bloomberg)

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