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Could the Tampa Bay area lose another of its largest companies?

Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.
Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. [TD AGENCY | Courtesy of Tech Data]
Published Oct. 22

In recent years, outsiders have bought three of Tampa Bay’s largest companies.

In 2016, Canada’s Emera took over TECO, parent of Tampa Electric. The next year, QVC purchased St. Petersburg’s HSN, which got its start as the Home Shopping Club in 1982. In March, St. Louis-based Centene announced it was acquiring Tampa’s WellCare Health Plans.

Each sale dented our local business ego, even if many of the jobs remained in the area. The core group of large companies headquartered in our area kept shrinking just as we were trying to lure businesses to the area. (We did land Mosaic, the phosphate company.)

Now comes news that Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm out of New York City, has offered $5 billion to buy Tech Data, another home-grown success story.

The company started in Clearwater in 1974 marketing data processing supplies for mini and mainframe computers. Today, Tech Data is a major distributor of IT products in North America, South America and Europe, selling everything from iPhones to servers, storage and networking products.

With more than $37 billion in revenue, the publicly-traded company is the 88th-largest in the country, according to Fortune magazine, No. 2 in the state and tops in the Tampa Bay area. It has more than 14,000 employees worldwide, 2,000 of them at its Largo headquarters.

Tech Data wasn’t commenting on the potential deal, though it sounds like the price might not be high enough for the company to bite.

It’s hard to get sentimental about massive corporations. They rise and fall. Sometimes they move or get bought. But it would be a blow to lose yet another of the area’s 10 largest public companies.

RELATED STORY: How Eckerd College helped build a better cantaloupe.

• • •

For years, doctors have received speaking fees and other payments from companies that make prescription drugs and medical devices. The practice, while common, remains controversial, as critics say the money creates a conflict-of-interest that can influence how doctors treat their patients.

Wherever you come down on the debate, the numbers are impressive. Last year, the companies doled out $12 billion to more than a million doctors and nearly 1,250 teaching hospitals around the country, according to ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs series, which the nonprofit newsroom updated last week.

Pharmaceutical company Genetech Inc. led the way spreading around $478 million. Medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet spent $109 million, good enough for No. 2 on the list.

As for the doctors, a neurological surgeon in Memphis led the list, collecting an astonishing $29 million last year. An orthopedic surgeon in San Antonio pulled in nearly $26 million.

In Florida, 25 doctors received at least $500,000, with eight topping $1 million. A radiologist in Miami was No. 1 in the state with $5.54 million.

Want to know how much, if anything, your doctor received? Check out ProPublica’s interactive database.

• • •

Florida companies were shut out of the world’s top 25 brands this year. The closest the state came was No. 10 Disney, which has a huge presence in the Orlando area but is headquartered in California.

Consultancy firm Interbrand based the rankings on several factors including the value the brand adds to the company, the role it plays in purchasing decisions and its ability to engender loyalty.

Apple's logo. [KIN CHEUNG | AP]

Apple was No. 1. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and McDonald’s also made the top 10.

Facebook fell to 12th, after a tough year that included more scrutiny over its privacy practices. GE also took a beating, falling to No. 19.

Of the top 25, Amazon, Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, American Express, Chanel and Disney did the most to improve their brands.

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