• Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

A Canadian pharmaceutical company acquiring Bausch + Lomb will move the contact lens maker’s corporate headquarters to central New Jersey from Rochester, N.Y., a rare piece of good news for a state that has suffered a string of corporate losses over the last few years.

What’s unclear from Monday’s announcement by Valeant, the Canadian drugmaker, is how many jobs New Jersey will gain, and exactly where the headquarters will be located.

Valeant spokesman Laurite Little said the new headquarters would likely be near Bridgewater, where Valeant has its U.S. headquarters, or Madison, where Bausch + Lomb’s pharmaceutical division is based.

The number of added New Jersey jobs may be modest. Valeant has about 100 people in corporate functions and Bausch + Lomb has 300. And the move was announced in a statement that also outlined job cuts that will take place when Valeant completes its acquisition — which was announced in May — later this year.

In a letter to employees, Valeant said it plans to cut 10 to 15 percent of the workforce of the two companies. That works out to between 1,850 and 2,775 people.

Consolidating the two companies’ headquarters will “streamline operations and improve efficiencies,” Valeant said in the letter to Bausch + Lomb employees. Corporate jobs are typically cut after a merger or acquisition due to duplication of functions in the two headquarters.

New Jersey has lost corporate headquarters in recent years, with Roche moving from Nutley to California as a result of the company’s acquisition by Genentech and Hertz planning to move its HQ from Park Ridge to Florida. Franklin Lakes-based Medco Health Solutions Inc. was acquired by Express Scripts Inc. of St. Louis two years ago.

There have been some moves into the state. Earlier this year Ascena Retail Group, which owns more than 3,800 retail outlets, including Dress Barn, broke ground on a new headquarters in Mahwah. The company’s HQ is currently in Suffern, N.Y. The company is receiving $38 million in state incentives, which will cover almost the entire cost of building the headquarters.

Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes said he knew nothing of Valeant’s intentions outside of the company’s announcements, but he said he is not surprised the company, which has been in Bridgewater about 10 years, is considering putting Bausch+Lomb there, too.

“It’s a good day whenever anybody comes to live in Bridgewater, especially a pharmaceutical or life science company,” he said. The company has 23 companies in that sector, some drawn by the fact that the town is now a hub for the industry, with employees and related businesses clustered together.

Valeant’s announced move to New Jersey is somewhat unusual in that the company appears not to have sought state incentives, often a prerequisite for bringing jobs to the state. Neither Valeant nor Bausch has applied for such assistance, according to New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority, which administers the state’s incentive programs.

Little said that Bausch + Lomb, which also makes eye vitamins, pharmaceuticals and eye surgery products, will not do any manufacturing in New Jersey, keeping sites for manufacturing and research and development in Rochester.

When Bausch + Lomb opened the Madison site in 2009, company officials said being in New Jersey would create opportunities to team up with other pharmaceutical companies.

In addition to the Bausch + Lomb move, Little said that Valeant is shutting down an Arizona location and will move an unspecified number of those jobs to New Jersey.

Valeant has expanded aggressively through acquisitions, especially in the areas of eye care and dermatology.

Sandy Parker, CEO for the Rochester Business Alliance, released a statement that said “there is no question that the moving of Bausch + Lomb corporate headquarters out of Rochester and the corresponding loss of jobs will have a significant impact on the region.”

Still, “it’s nothing new” for Rochester, said spokesman Dan Smith. He noted that the city has suffered the loss of Xerox, and major job losses from troubled Kodak, both of which were once among the city’s biggest employers.


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