Tuesday, June 24, 2014

USC Dangling $600 Million Lure for Scripps

Fresh information is emerging on the USC-Scripps deal, including the loss of two scientists to the Los Angeles school. And from Florida is coming news that Scripps would receive $15 million a year for 40 years under the terms of some sort of merger. 

The departing Scripps scientists are biochemist Ray Stevens and biologist Peter Kuhn, according to a piece by Gary Robbins in the San Diego U-T.  The move, which does not appear to be directly connected to the deal, is being hailed on USC social media sites (See here and here.) 

Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post wrote about the possible USC-Scripps deal, which has rankled some in Florida. The state houses a 624-employee branch of Scripps. He said that Scripps would receive $15 million a year for 40 years under the terms of the deal. Ostrowski continued,
 “While the sum of $600 million sounds large, applying even a rock-bottom interest rate of 2.2 percent to the 40-year payment schedule reduces the present value of the deal to $250 million.
“Scripps reported net assets of $728 million — including investments worth $459 million and land, buildings and equipment valued at $372 million — as of Sept. 30, 2012. The gap between Scripps’ fortune and USC’s $15 million-a-year offer led one critic to dismiss the deal as ‘a joke.’”
No further details of the possible arrangement were reported in the Florida newspaper.

Ostrowski, however, also wrote,
“When (former Gov. Jeb) Bush announced The Scripps Research Institute’s expansion to Palm Beach County in October 2003, he touted an economic impact study that said the investment in Scripps would spawn 6,500 spinoff jobs and create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs statewide in 15 years.
“Scripps Florida had 634 employees as of March, and private-sector biotech jobs have yet to appear. The lab’s arrival sparked a $1.5 billion spree of public subsidies for research labs from Miami to St. Petersburg. The goal was to turn around Florida’s notoriously low-wage economy, but the state continues to lag in most measures of biotech prowess.”
Nothing new has surfaced on the interest expressed by UC San Diego in Scripps, which is located nearby. USC is about 130 miles north of Scripps.

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