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PHOENIX-A long-time land investment company is retreating from the real estate business and getting into medical technology.

NZ Corp. plans to merge with Lipid Sciences Inc., a privately held medical technology company headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. Last year, NZ Corp. had started unloading its real estate and mineral assets to focus on supplying bridge loans to the commercial development industry. The strategic move was in response to its falling share price, which has been on a downward path since 1999 when it hit a high of nearly $11.

In June, NZ had sold 136 acres in the resort town of Sedona for $12.5 million to a partnership that includes the Four Seasons and Scottsdale-based Pinnacle Group and Cavan Investments. The partnership plans to build 76, three-bedroom time-share homes, a full-service spa and 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Weiskopf. Earlier this year, NZ Corp. disposed of 10 acres at the corner of Cooper and Warner roads in Gilbert. That transaction had taken place less than a year after the sale of two other corners of the busy intersection. NA still owns industrial land in Albuquerque, residential land in Las Cruces, NM, and more than 120,000 acres of rural land in Apache and Navajo counties in Arizona.

NZ is a real estate investor and owner plus short-term commercial lender. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Bridge Financial Corp., NZ acts as a direct lender in providing time sensitive, short-term real estate loans in Southwest US and California.

Under the merger terms, NZ will issue a little more than 15.9 million common shares to Lipid Sciences’ stockholders. NZ also will change its name in a merger that allows its stockholders to buy additional shares for two years after final papers are inked. “The merger will provide Lipid Sciences with a public company platform and cash which will be utilized to fund the business operations and development of our products,” says Christopher A. Marlett, chairman of Lipid Sciences Inc.

The corporations’ boards have OK’d the tax-free transaction and it’s awaiting stockholders’ approval on both fronts. In connection with the merger, NZ’s largest shareholder is required to sell Lipid Sciences about 1.5 million shares of NZ stock and grant it a favorable merger voting proxy, which represents approximately 43% of NZ’s outstanding stock. The bottom line is the merger will enable NZ to realize underlying asset value and maximize shareholders’ returns, says Randy Stolworthy, NZ’s president and CEO.

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