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Digest

Talk of the bay

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 20, 2007


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. THE TICKER

IF YOU LIVE HERE, CHANCES ARE YOU HAVE A JOB

"Help Wanted" signs keep sprouting at Florida businesses as the unemployment rate in the state and the Tampa Bay area in particular continues to hover at record low levels. The bay area's unemployment rate dipped to 3 percent in December, down from November's 3.3 percent and just shy of the recent low of 2.9 percent in December 2005. Florida's jobless number was 3.3 percent, the same as a month earlier and slightly lower than year-ago figures. Florida continues to outperform the nation, which reported unemployment at 4.5 percent last month, down from 4.9 percent a year earlier. Though Florida has added 212,600 jobs over the past year, 26,800 of them in the Tampa Bay area, the state's monthly report does not include pay information about those new jobs.

Bank parent adds to Florida family

Superior Bancorp of Birmingham, Ala., is expanding its Florida presence with a deal to acquire People's Community Bancshares of Sarasota for $77-million. Superior is the parent company for 12 Tampa Bay area branches of First Kensington Bank. People's Community Bank of the West Coast, which has three branches in Sarasota and Manatee counties, will keep its name. Its shareholders, who still must approve the deal, will receive 2.9036 shares of Superior for each People's share they own. The deal is expected to close next quarter.

In one meeting, Danka cut in half

In the old days, shareholders used to meet to approve deals to grow a company. Leave it to Danka Business Systems to try a different twist. On Friday, Danka shareholders approved a plan to sell roughly half the company. The St. Petersburg office-equipment distributor is selling its European operations to Ricoh Co. of Tokyo for $210-million. The deal will help shave about $30-million off Danka's expenses. When he announced the deal in November, Danka chairman and CEO A.D. Frazier acknowledged some negative sentiment toward the selloff. "Selling half the company is not something I enjoy doing every day," he said at the time.

. tampabay.com

Industry in crisis

Learn about the problems facing insurance companies in Florida at tampabay.com/insurance.

[Last modified January 19, 2007, 23:10:05]


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