Stories for April 2003

Monday, April 28

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Insurance Brokers ranked by 2002 L.A. County revenues

LABJ FORUM: Sigh of Relief?

The Business Journal asks: Do you feel safer now?

Dogged by Past Scandals, Aura Reinvents Itself One More Time

CORPORATE FOCUS

Venture Funding Levels Nosedive as Deals Head South

Local venture capital funding, which declined sharply in the fourth quarter of 2002, accelerated into a freefall during the first quarter amid a gloomy national funding picture.

Tourist Bureau Seeks Relief From Deep Cuts

Tourism officials are scrambling to keep their beleaguered convention and visitors bureau afloat after L.A. Mayor James Hahn announced plans to slash the city's funding in half.

Family Coffee Saga Grinds On In New Trust Battle at Farmer's

The chairman of Farmer Bros., the Torrance-based coffee importer under siege from its outside shareholders, faces a new challenge from his nephew and longtime foe.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

NEWSMAKERS

Businesspeople and businesses in the news, on the move...

Business Districts Facing Challenges as Renewals Loom

A decade into the experiment of self-administered business improvement districts, three of the five property-based groups up for renewal this year are encountering problems ranging from charges if mismanagement to grousing over services.

Satellite TV Provider Attempting Cable End-Run

In the cutthroat battle for customers who live in apartments, the satellite TV industry has long been at a disadvantage to cable companies.

Rhino Facing Extinction Under Warner

With the clock ticking on the five-year deal that let the once idiosyncratic Rhino Records operate autonomously, its parent company, Warner Music Group, has started siphoning off senior management.

Monday, April 21

Tech Company Shifts More Workers to Asia

Memory products maker Kingston Technology Co. is shifting more work to its year-old assembly plant in China, part of a quietly unfolding trend of Orange County memory products makers moving work to Asia.

Pace of Local Home Sales Slips Again

L.A. County median home prices rose once again in March to $290,000, but the number of sales fell for the second consecutive month, according to preliminary estimates from DataQuick Information Systems.

WEEKLY BRIEFING: Surf Instruction Makes Splash With Businesses

After graduating from U.C. Berkeley and surfing all around the world, Jim Miller who took up the sport at age eight decided to make a business of his pleasure.

Port Traffic Up as Importers Hurry to Beat Hikes in Fees

Importers rushing to beat a major price hike in cargo hauling fees drove a spike in container traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in March.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

Sagging Markets Hit Pension Fund Balances Locally

Already reeling from revenue shortfalls, increased costs and greater demand for social services, local governments throughout L.A. County are being forced to pay out millions of dollars to shore up unsteady pension plans.

LABJ FORUM: It's Nervous Time

The Business Journal asks: How far do you think the Lakers will go in the playoffs?

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...

Scheib Wage/Hour Ruling Shields Directors, Executives

Corporate officers and directors, increasingly subject to claims from employees alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, were handed a victory when a three-judge panel in Los Angeles extended them further protections in wage/hour litigation.

Fremont's Strategic Shift Yields Profits But Older Debts Loom

Fremont General Corp.'s transition from workers' compensation insurer to real estate lender is finally leading to profits.

Gap in Moratorium Puts Promenade Restaurant on Ropes

The people-watching and cool ocean breezes enjoyed by the street-side patrons of Santa Monica's Trastevere restaurant belie a behind-the-scenes effort by the property's landlord to search for a new tenant despite a city moratorium prohibiting conversion

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Real Estate Appraisal firms, ranked by the number of licensed real estate appraisers in L.A. County

Chargers Chasing Northern Fan Base

While the Chargers are in talks with the city of San Diego for a replacement to aging Qualcomm Stadium, they are reaching out to Orange County and other Southern California areas to grow their fan base.

Clear Channel Move Could Open Doors for Independents

Promoter Karen Lee says she's been "banging her head against the wall" trying to get airplay for Porcupine Tree, an aspiring rock band from London, for going on five years now.

Steady Bond Market Gives Way To Fear of Rising Interest Rates

WALL STREET WEST

Monday, April 14

Analyst Bucks Convention By Raising Questions in CSC Report

When Rod Bourgeois, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., released a probing report on Computer Sciences Corp., he was flooded with negative comments from outraged clients who owned the stock.

Southwest Focus Is Working to The Benefit of REIT Macerich

Investors are generally encouraged by real estate investment trust Macerich Co. slashing its debt load in the fourth quarter, although there remains concern about the all-important California market

Mining Back-Office Operations May Bolster Bottom Line

Entrepreneur's Notebook by Janet Halbert

Severe Funding Drought in Biotech

Biotech funding continues to be a struggle in the San Diego region, one of the industry's most prominent and until recently prosperous regions.

LABJ FORUM: Fork in the Road

The Business Journal asks: Now that the war in Iraq seems to be winding down, are you more optimistic about the economy?

Independent PR Firms Expect Slight Bump After Slow Year

Independent public relations firms saw revenues decline by 7 percent last year, as the recession and ongoing uncertainty in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks led to a pullback in corporate spending.

Times Returns Home With New Editorial Section

The latest piece in a two-year effort to remake the Los Angeles Times' news pages will debut this week with the introduction of a Home section that covers topics ranging from architecture to gardening.

Chinese-American Banks Are at The Fore of Recent Dealmaking

WALL STREET WEST

Faster Dial-Up Is Latest Maneuver By United Online

United Online Inc. believes it has an answer for its thrifty Internet service customers who crave faster downloads but don't want to pay the price of broadband. The problem: Its competitors have come up with similar plans.

L.A. City, County Strategizing Plans For Budget Gaps

When L.A. city and county officials release their proposed 2003-04 budgets this week, the picture will be troubling but not disastrous. That could come later.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

Insurers Face Flood Of Proposals to Cure Homeowner Affronts

Sacramento lawmakers have responded to a host of underwriting practices that make it harder to obtain homeowners' insurance.

Ovrom's Proposed Shake-Up of CRA Faces Cultural, Institutional Hurdles

Barely one month into his tenure as chief executive of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, Bud Ovrom is proposing an ambitious restructuring.

Giving Rises at Local United Way, Bucking Nationwide Declines

As United Way campaigns struggle nationwide due to the soft economy, Los Angeles is somewhat bucking the trend, with both corporations and the area's richest residents giving more.

NEWSMAKERS

Mellon Wealth Management Chief Urges Diversification

Film Producer Sees Hot Opportunity in Energy

Weekly Briefing - Noah Golden, owner and operator of residential and commercial solar energy systems consultancy Golden Energy in Santa Monica, struck the alternative energy market in the wake of California's electricity crisis.

Monday, April 7

Dealmaking Drought Worsens Amid Widespread Uncertainty

Dealmaking in Los Angeles hasn't dried up completely but the number of first quarter mergers and acquisitions has dropped sharply from the like period a year ago and the total value of deals has plummeted

LABJ FORUM: Breathing Easy?

The Business Journal Asks: Are you concerned about the spread of SARS and are you taking any preventative measures or altering your travel plans?

Slew of Bills Aim to Fix Ailing Workers' Comp System

The crisis in workers' compensation is finally getting the attention of state legislators.

Business Journal Gets Top Honor From Panel Of Writers and Editors

The Los Angeles Business Journal has won an overall excellence award for business weeklies by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and was also recognized for its coverage of Global Crossing Ltd.

Top Independents See Growth in Shifting Ad Marketplace

MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY

After Fits and Starts, Fresh Run At Rebuilding Foothill Corridor

SPOTLIGHT ON ALTADENA

Rocketdyne Getting Wooed By Alabama But No Moving Plans

L.A. City Councilman Dennis P. Zine has formed an advisory committee to keep Boeing Co.'s Rocketdyne division in the San Fernando Valley as the aerospace company receives overtures from Alabama officials to move to their state.

Strengthened Back-Office Functions Add to Bottom Line

Entrepreneur's Notebook by Janet Halbert

Hughes Aims for Better Results As Eager News Corp. Closes In

INVESTMENT & FINANCE: When telecommunications giant SBC Communications Inc. last week dropped out of the bidding for Hughes Electronics Corp., apparently leaving News Corp. as the last company standing, the market cheered the news by boosting Hughes' stoc

Truckers Demand Surcharges for Higher Diesel Costs

High diesel fuel costs are fraying relations between a group of trucking firms delivering goods into Mexico and the independent drivers they hire on contract.

Push for Regional Travel Bureaus Getting Mixed Reaction

A group of Westside businesses and hotel operators trying to establish an alternative structure to the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau has gained support in the San Fernando Valley and is stepping up its lobbying efforts at City Hall.

Hotels Relax Privacy Policies as Government Pushes for Access

Hotel operators, responding to wider powers granted federal investigators following the terrorist attacks, have dropped traditional objections to releasing guest information to authorities.

NEWSMAKERS

Selling Doctors on Benefits of High-Tech Offices; Businesspeople and businesses in the news, on the move...

Review/Preview

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...