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BUSINESS TODAY

JLM GOING PRIVATE: JLM Industries Inc. has entered into an agreement with two of its major shareholders to take the Tampa chemical distribution company private for $1.40 a share. John L. Macdonald, JLM's founder and chief executive, and Philip Sassower, a former JLM director, first proposed the buyout in June. A special committee of the company's independent directors agreed Thursday to the transaction, which must be approved by the majority of shareholders unrelated to the private investors at a special meeting. If closed, JLM's public shareholders will receive about $7.4-million in cash for their shares. The transaction is expected to close by year end or early in 2004.

VERTICAL HEALTH SPLITS: Vertical Health Solutions Inc. of Oldsmar said its outstanding common stock will be split 5-for-1 effective Nov. 20. For each share of stock held as of Nov. 10, each shareholder will receive four additional shares. Following the split, the company, which is traded on the OTC Bulletin Board, will have about 13.7-million shares outstanding. Vertical Health Solutions, through its wholly owned subsidiary Labelclick Inc., develops, markets and distributes private label health products to veterinarians.

PROGRESS CALLS SOME BONDS: Progress Energy Florida said it is calling for early redemption $100-million of first mortgage bonds that its predecessor, Florida Power Corp., sold 10 years ago. The bonds, which pay 7 percent interest, were to mature in 2023. Bond holders will receive 103.19 percent of the principal amount plus accrued interest from June 1 to Dec. 1, 2003. The bonds will stop paying interest Dec. 1. Banc One will handle the redemption.

CRYO-CELL REPORTS COURT LOSS: Cryo-Cell International Inc. of Clearwater said in an SEC filing that a jury in U.S. District Court in Delaware on Wednesday returned a verdict "adverse to the company" and three co-defendants in a patent infringement trial. The action stems from a February 2002 lawsuit filed by Pharmastem Therapeutics Inc. Cryo-Cell said it will seek to have the trial court overturn the verdict and, if necessary, will appeal the verdict. Cryo-Cell, which stores stem cells from newborns' cord blood, also said the Nasdaq's review council affirmed the decision to delist the company's stock in July despite the company's appeal. Cryo-Cell will continue to trade on the OTC Bulletin Board.

OFFICE DEPOT ON THE MOVE: Office Depot Inc. is packing up its pens and pencils, ink and toner and moving its headquarters to Boca Raton. The Delray Beach office supply chain said Thursday it plans to build a 600,00-square-foot corporate center on 20 acres off Yamato Road east of Military Trail. The move isn't a surprise. In spring, Office Depot chief executive Bruce Nelson said the company had outgrown its Old Germantown Road space. The project is slated to be finished by 2006.

SHIP LAYS ON MEDICAL SUPPLIES: The Aurora, a ship operated by Carnival Corp.'s P&O Cruises, left Greece Friday with extra medical supplies after a stomach virus infected as many as 400 of the ship's 1,900 passengers, the company said. The ship is on its way to Gibraltar after doctors treated sick passengers and loaded medical supplies at Piraeus, outside Athens, P&O spokeswoman Bronwen Griffiths said. The Aurora had sailed to Greece from Croatia.

ONE SUPERMARKET STRIKE ENDS: More than 10,000 union grocery workers headed back to work in the St. Louis, Mo., area after agreeing to a new contract Friday, ending a 3{-week strike and lockout at the region's three largest supermarket chains. The agreement, reached Wednesday with the help of a federal mediator, was approved 4,174 to 945, well over the required simple majority. Two other union walkouts at grocery chains continued, one in Southern California and the other covering stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

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