Friday, May 23, 2008

Hughes takes big haul: Top award, $101M deal

High-Tech Firm of Year gets contract with Calif. company

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Gazette file photo
A researcher harvests mosquitoes at Sanaria, which is developing a malaria vaccine.
Fresh off being named the Tech Council of Maryland’s High-Tech Firm of the Year, Germantown broadband satellite company Hughes Network Systems this week announced a contract valued at $100.8 million from Milpitas, Calif., satellite voice and data services provider Globalstar.

The agreement with Hughes Network, a subsidiary of Hughes Communications, will enable Globalstar to offer its clients more advanced wireless services, Globalstar CEO Jay Monroe said in a statement. New offerings could include mobile video and push-to-talk text messaging, he said.

‘‘As market leaders in the design and development of mobile satellite systems and user devices, we are excited to have been selected by Globalstar as the designer and supplier of their next-generation gateways and satellite air interface chips for the user terminals,” Pradman Kaul, Hughes chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Also this week, Hughes announced a public offering of 2.2 million shares priced at $50 each, to help acquire a satellite or to spend for general purposes.

Hughes was honored along with other companies last week at the Tech Council’s 20th annual awards dinner at the Montgomery County Conference Center in North Bethesda.

‘‘It is indeed a special honor for Hughes to be recognized by an organization of its high-technology peers,” said Kaul, whom the Tech Council named Executive of the Year in 2006.

Award criteria include innovative products and services relevant to the market; strong long-term prospects for business; market penetration and impact; and significant, measurable success, including increased revenue and profits.

This year’s dinner was attended by about 850 people, including Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). The number of companies competing for awards increased by 47 percent from last year, according to the Tech Council, which is based in Rockville.

Julie Coons, CEO of the Tech Council, thanked members for helping persuade the legislature to repeal the state’s new sales tax on computer services, which was to have taken effect this summer. O’Malley, who signed the tax into law in the fall, then signed its repeal this spring, also thanked the group.

‘‘The Tech Council of Maryland led the effort to get this tax repealed and did so by explaining how it would impact the future of Maryland,” O’Malley said in his prepared remarks. ‘‘That was visionary thinking and it made the difference.”

In addition to Hughes, suburban Maryland businesses took all the honors this year.

Sanaria of Rockville, which is developing a malaria vaccine, was named Emerging Company of the Year.

‘‘All the members of the Sanaria team go to work every day with only one goal in mind, to develop a vaccine that will prevent millions of deaths from malaria,” founder and CEO Stephen L. Hoffman said in a statement. ‘‘I am honored to accept this award on their behalf, and on behalf of our partners who have invested so much in us.”

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, also of Rockville, was named Biotechnology Firm of the Year. The company is developing drugs to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, other psychiatric conditions, and sleep and mood disorders.

Steven C. Mayer, CEO of Rockville biotech CoGenesys, was named Executive of the Year. CoGenesys, acquired this year by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. of Israel for $400 million, is working on treatments for heart failure, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Laurel information technology business Aquilent took Government Contracting Firm of the Year.