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Pharmacy Management sale completed

Another big company born and bred in Tampa Bay passed out of local control Tuesday when Beverly Enterprises Inc. completed its $150-million purchase of Pharmacy Management Services Inc.

PMSI, which employs about 900 people, is the latest in a series of prominent Tampa Bay companies to become part of bigger out-of-state conglomerates.

Tampa-based Anchor Glass Container Corp., for example, was sold in 1989 to Vitro S.A., a Mexican glass company. Japanese steelmaker Kyoei Steel Ltd. bought Florida Steel Corp. of Tampa three years later. Last year, Tampa sportswear-maker Nutmeg Industries Inc. was sold to clothing giant VF Industries Inc. And Lincare Holdings Inc., a Clearwater home health care company, is negotiating its sale to Coram Healthcare Corp.

Arkansas-based Beverly Enterprises operates about 775 nursing homes in 34 states, including nine in the Tampa Bay area. Its existing pharmacy operation supplies nursing homes, prisons and other institutions with drugs and intravenous medicine. Its annual sales are about twice as much as the $113-million in sales that PMSI had last year.

Neither company responded to requests for comment Tuesday. But when the sale was announced in December, Beverly Enterprises said it would keep most of the managers at PMSI and would integrate the company into its other pharmacy operations. Analysts said the merger also would give Beverly Enterprises an immediate foothold in the complex workers' compensation market.

Beverly Enterprises already has postponed an initial public offering for its pharmacy division. Last month, it said that difficulty integrating its acquisitions was partly responsible for postponing the spinoff of Pharmacy Corp. of America until at least late this year.

In recent years, PMSI flourished by helping workers' compensation insurers save money on prescriptions for their most seriously injured policyholders.

But finding that niche took a long time for Cecil "Stan" Harrell, a retail pharmacist who founded the company 20 years ago.

A decade after Harrell mailed his first prescription for an insurer, his business still hadn't taken off. But in 1986, he secured the money to make a big push into the growing workers' compensation market. He hired enough people to scour through insurance claims searching for the 3 percent of clients who were seriously injured enough to make mail-order pay.

The company, which went public in 1990, was sold at a price about one-third higher than its initial offering. It traded at $16.50 Tuesday.

Harrell, who will retire with the sale, owned nearly 45 percent of the company's stock, making his stake worth about $67-million.

_ Information from Bloomberg Business News was used in this report.