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Monday, August 28, 2006

SFBC Goes For a Name Change: PharmaNet Development Group

In a typical move, and probably an unexpected one, SFBC Internationally has formally changed its name and ticker from SFCC to the new name and ticker PharmaNet Development Group, Inc. (PDGI).

"The PharmaNet Development Group name builds on the reputation and prominent market positions of PharmaNet, Anapharm and our other subsidiaries as a leading drug development organization committed to patient safety and providing excellent service and integrated global drug development capabilities to our clients," said Jeffrey P. McMullen, president & chief executive officer of PharmaNet Development Group.

What the company didn't say was, "Because we injured so many people off of human testing of drug molecules and because we had such negative press and tainted trials, we had to walk away from the prior SFBC International name. We hope that this will make our shareholders hopeful. We really hope that the name change will adequately trick the pharmaceutical industry into believing we are a new company not at all tied to the problems of the past."

The Company also announced the appointment of John P. Hamill to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, David Natan to Executive Vice President, Reporting and Analysis (Chief Accounting Officer), and Thomas J. Newman, M.D. to Executive Vice President, Late Stage Development. Dr. Newman will retain his responsibilities as chief operating officer of the Company's late-stage business. In addition, Anne-Marie Hess was appointed Executive Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications.

If you have been reading 24/7 Wall St. content for a while you will probably recall several occasions where we have said the way to turn a pig into a dog was to give it a bath and send it in for a makeover. This company has been trying to shed whatever baggage it could get rid of. You can take a dog out of a junkyard, but it is very hard to take the junkyard out of a dog.

We wish the new company PharmaNet best of luck, but this will come with a cost all on its own. Can a leopard change its spots for a zebra's stripes?

Here are some of the other big corporate name changes:

ValueJet changed its name to Airtran after a horriffic plane crash in the Everglades that was rumored to be far from a "sudden death" for the passengers and crew.

Philip Morris changed its name to Altria to get away from the old tarnished tobacco name; oddly enough the wordplay can change the name to "A Trial" if you shuffle the letters around.

Accenture is the old Anderson Consulting, and it is doubtful anyone wants to remember the "Anderson" name.

Google was supposedly named "BackRub," although the real name as a service used by the public looks like it has always been Google. Can you imagine how conversations would end up if people asked "Have you Back-Rubbed yourself yet?"?

IBM was originally called Computing Tabulating Recording Corp. Can we just call it Abacus International instead?

Nintendo, before it was a card company and then a gaming company, was named Marafuku. You wouldn't want to know what US consumers would butcher that name into.

Yahoo! started as "Jerry's Guide." Can you imagine all the aversion to working for and getting options in "Jerry's Kids or something like that"....?

Jon C. Ogg
August 28, 2006
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