Nexell to Ax Dozens, Hand Off Sales Rights

Struggling Nexell Therapeutics Inc. said Tuesday it will fire two-thirds of its work force and transfer rights to its cell-processing products to its biggest shareholder, Baxter International Inc.

The Irvine developer of cell therapies to treat cancer and other diseases, said Baxter's health-care unit will obtain worldwide sales, marketing and distribution rights for Nexell's flagship Isolex magnetic cell-selection system, cell culture and storage containers and other products.

Terms of the deal were not announced. Nexell said it would take a one-time charge later this year, partly for severance pay for about 66 of its 100 workers.

Baxter, based in Deerfield, Ill., owns nearly 12 million shares, or about 38%, of Nexell, according to a document recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nexell stock dropped 35 cents Tuesday to close at $2.50 a share in Nasdaq trading. The firm's shares have lost 85% of their value in the last 52 weeks.

Baxter closed at $49.31, down 7 cents a share, on the New York Stock Exchange.

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