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Facility Closures and Layoff Announcements (Dec. 16-22)

A Weekly Listing of Future Corporate Downsizings
December 20, 2007
This report is excerpted from Watch List, a weekly column of distressed commercial properties, mortgages and corporate news.

Washington Mutual Inc. said it would discontinue all remaining lending through its subprime mortgage channel. The action will result in the closing of approximately 190 of 336 home loan centers and sales offices; the closing of nine home loans processing and call centers; the elimination of approximately 2,600 positions, or about 22% of its home loans staff; the elimination of approximately 550 corporate and other support positions; and the closing of WaMu Capital Corp., its institutional broker-dealer business, as well as its mortgage banker finance warehouse lending operation.

Novartis plans to streamline some corporate functions as well as functions in the pharmaceuticals and consumer health divisions, particularly involving general management and administrative areas. In the pharmaceuticals division, it will eliminate duplication between global, regional and local sales activities and involve the outsourcing non-core support activities. The consumer health division will remove organizational layers to streamline processes and eliminate duplications. About 2,500 full-time positions are to be cut as part of these initiatives from among the nearly 100,000 full-time positions within the group. Many reductions will be handled through normal fluctuation in staffing levels, which has traditionally averaged about 8% of the group's annual workforce, as well as vacancy management and social programs.

Huttig Building Products Inc. plans to close its Greensburg, PA, branch at 1335 S Main St. and, its Kansas City, MO, branch at 7600 Gardner Ave. The company expects both actions to be completed in the first quarter of 2008. With the downsizings, the company has also consolidated its corporate office space at 555 Maryville University Drive, Suite 240, in St. Louis, MO.

The following future closings and permanent mass layoffs were reported in California.
· Charles Schwab Corp. plans to move jobs out of the San Francisco area over the next few years. Schwab plans to eliminate about 30%, or 1,400, of its employees in San Francisco by allowing more employees to telecommute and by moving work -- and jobs -- to less expensive areas of the country as well as through attrition. Schwab has other major employment centers in Phoenix, Denver, Indianapolis and Cleveland.
· Pepgen Corp. terminated its sublease with Avigen Inc. of approximately 11,000 square feet of laboratory and office space at 1301 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda. The sublease provided for Pepgen to pay rent to Avigen of approximately $21,000 per month through November 2010.

The following future closings and permanent mass layoffs were reported in Florida.
· The Ideal Merchandising Division of DDP Holdings is laying off 82 employees at 441 Apollo Beach Blvd. in Apollo Beach on Jan. 30.
· Lightpath Technologies Inc. reduced the amount of space it leases from Challenger Discovery LLC at its headquarters and manufacturing facility at 2603 Challenger Tech Court in Orlando effective Dec. 1, 2007. The rentable area was reduced from 41,063 square feet to 21,557 square feet and extended to December 2014. The base rent was reduced from $16.66 to $15.50 per square foot.

FloorServe, which provides flooring field sales and marketing services at the retail locations across the country, lost its only contract effective Jan. 31. It will be closing down all operations at that time at its headquarters at 309 N. Hamilton St. in Dalton, GA, and laying off all of its field reps - 164 employees in all.

Southern Wine & Spirits of Upstate New York (inVision division) is laying off 124 employees at 120 Madison St. in Syracuse, NY; no specified date was available.

The following future closings and permanent mass layoffs were reported in Ohio.
· AS (American Standard) Americas Inc. is closing down its facility at 324 4th Ave. in Tiffin, laying off 193 employees on Jan. 4.
· KeyCorp is closing down six branches on Jan. 1, affecting 415 employees. The locations are:
2025 Ontario Ave., Cleveland
500 Superior Ave., Cleveland
127 Public Square, Cleveland
4900 & 4910 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn
34 N. Main St., Dayton
· Chrysler is suspending operations at its Toledo North Assembly Plant on Jan. 31, affecting 786 workers.
· Giant Eagle is closing its store at 80 Whittlesey Ave. in Norwalk, laying off 70 employees on Feb. 2.
· JBM Inc. Bluegrass Satellite is laying off up to 50 of its 57 employees at 1348 Stimmel Road in Columbus. It's only customer, DirecTV, is taking away some of its work and assigning it to other contractors.
· Sofa Express Inc. is closing its facility at 4600 S. Hamilton Road in Groveport this month, laying off 242 employees.

Gibbs Die Casting Corp. is closing its plant at 1209 Industrial Way in Harlingen, TX, and consolidating those operations into its Henderson, KY, plant. The closing will start in February and be completed by March, affecting 51 employees.

The following future closings and permanent mass layoffs were reported in Virginia.
· CDG Management is closing down a call center operation in Martinsville on Jan. 18, laying off 41 employees.
· GTSI Corp. will vacate its 130,0009-square-foot headquarters at 3901 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly when it takes possession of new, smaller headquarters next Dec. 1. GTSI will be leasing 104,243 rentable square feet of office space with SP Herndon Development LP in an eight-story building at 2553 Dulles View Drive, Herndon, VA.
MPRI Inc. is laying of 134 people at 1320 Braddock Place in Alexandria on Dec. 29.

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The Watch List and CoStar Lead Street columns are the yen and yang of real estate - a powerful one-two-combination designed to provide both micro and macro real estate news and analysis, as well as valuable leads about companies expanding and contracting and property investment opportunities. They are available for free by e-mail, which is the quickest way to review all of the news in these columns as soon as they are published and link directly to the news and features you want. Just e-mail me your name, title, company, company business, city, state, and e-mail address. You can reach me by clicking on the byline above or e-mailing me at Mark Heschmeyer
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