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Business Notes: Rockville Creative Firm HZ Acquired by One of World’s Largest PR Agencies

Plus: Home sales prices are up, Emergent BioSolutions expands and county businesses make “Best Employers for Women” list

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An undated photo shows the interior of digital creative firm HZ's Rockville headquarters.

Via Google Maps

Rockville-based digital creative firm HZ has been acquired by Burson Cohn & Wolfe, one of the world’s largest PR agencies.

HZ was founded by Karen Zuckerman, the chief creative officer, and her husband, Jerry Zuckerman, the chief executive officer and chief financial officer, in 1987. HZ has more than 200 employees at offices in Rockville, Baltimore, New York and Los Angeles. The Zuckermans live in Potomac.

HZ’s clients include Hilton Worldwide, Salesforce.org and King Arthur Flour, according to their website.

Burson Cohn & Wolfe was itself created earlier this year as the result of a merger. The company has more than 4,000 employees across 42 countries.

Zuckerman will retain her title and report to Donna Imperato, the Global CEO of BCW, according to a news release.

Prices, number of home sales up

Median home sale prices in Montgomery County hit the highest level since 2007, according to a new report from the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors.

The median sales price for a home in the county in July was $454,000. That’s 6 percent higher than last July’s median price of $428,500, and the highest July sales price average since 2007, according to the association.

There were 1,204 closed sales in the county last month, up 3.8 percent from last year during the same time period and higher than the five-year July average by 1.4 percent, according to the report.

There were also 1,207 new pending sales last month, which also marks an increase over last year.

Best businesses for women

Three Montgomery County companies are listed on Forbes magazine’s “Best Employers for Women” list.

The rankings were based on surveys of 40,000 people, including 25,000 women, who work for businesses with at last 1,000 employees.

The companies’ rankings reflect the impressions of employees about issues like working conditions, diversity, parental leave and pay equity. The rankings also take into account gender diversity on boards and among executive ranks.

Westat, a research company with 2,000 employees headquartered in Rockville is the only county company to crack the top 100, ranking 40th nationwide.

Other county companies included on the list were Bethesda’s Marriott International at No. 124, and Chevy Chase’s Geico Auto Insurance at No. 253.

Emergent expands

Emergent BioSolutions, an international biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, paid $270 million last week to acquire PaxVax, which manufactures vaccines to protect against typhoid and cholera.

PaxVax is also working on vaccines for adenovirus and various emerging infectious diseases such as chikungunya. The acquisition also gives Emergent its first research and development facility in Europe, where PaxVax has a substantial presence in Switzerland, according to the Washington Post.

The merger will add about 250 employees to Emergent and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Emergent manufactures for the U.S. government the only anthrax vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, among a wide range of other pharmaceuticals.

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