Early Briefing: A Biotech Pioneer Moves On

David Mott had agreed to stay at MedImmune for a year after its acquisition. (Photo Credit: Timothy Jacobsen)

* MedImmune chief executive David M. Mott, who led the Gaithersburg biotech through years of rapid expansion and its sale to the British drug giant AstraZeneca, will leave the company at the end of July.

Mott, a former investment banker with no formal scientific training, did not indicate why he was leaving. His departure marks the end of the leadership that forged one of the local biotech community's most successful companies.

In the announcement yesterday, AstraZeneca named Tony Zook, chief executive of AstraZeneca's North American business and executive vice president of global marketing, MedImmune's interim head. Zook is based in Wilmington, Del.

* An annual survey of the region's top grocery chains shows Giant Food's market share continuing to erode, although it remained the region's leading supermarket. According to trade publication Food World, Giant's market share dipped two percentage points to 35 percent in the year ending March 31. Sales at the chain's 129 stores totaled $3.3 billion, down from $3.4 billion at 133 stores last year.

Safeway ranked second, with 109 stores and $2.6 billion in annual sales. Its market share increased slightly, from 27.7 percent to 27.8 percent. Third-place Shoppers Food & Pharmacy saw market share dip from 14.6 percent to 14.4 percent. No. 4 Food Lion had 8.6 percent of the market, up from 8.4 percent. Fifth-ranked Harris Teeter increased its presence with seven new stores, up from 11. Its market share rose from 2.6 percent to 4.3 percent.

* The Metro board agreed yesterday to sell its Southeast bus garage property to two developers for more than $69 million. The land is a block from the new Washington Nationals ballpark and across the street from the Navy Yard Metro station.

The John Akridge Development Co. will pay Metro more than $46.5 million for the 69,607-square-foot garage, at 17 M St. SE. Monument Realty will pay Metro more than $22.6 million for a 27,558-square-foot employee parking lot.

* Rockville biotechnology company Vanda Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday that a late-stage trial for an insomnia drug met its goal, but the drug failed to show a long-term benefit compared with a placebo, sending shares tumbling.

* This summer marks a milestone for Civilization -- or, at least, a computer game going by that name. The local game studio Firaxis is taking aim at a new market with its venerable PC game franchise, called Civ for short: the Xbox and PlayStation crowd.

The Civ games, in which players take a young society and guide it to world domination through careful balancing of resources, diplomacy and firepower, are famously cerebral and complex. This is not a type of game that has been a hit on the Xbox or PlayStation, where the blockbusters tend to be more focused on action. Firaxis, based in Hunt Valley, Md., is hoping to change that with its upcoming title, Civilization Revolution, coming out next month.

By Dan Beyers  |  June 27, 2008; 7:05 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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