Stories for June 2005

Thursday, June 30

Stocks Down as Fed Ups Interest Rates

Stocks fell Thursday after the Fed raised interest rates for a ninth straight time and said it would keep to its policy of bumping up rates at a "measured" pace.

CNOOC Will Pursue Unocal Bid

CNOOC Ltd. will press ahead with its takeover bid for Unocal Corp. despite a planned shareholder vote on a competing offer by Chevron Corp., the Chinese company's chairman said Thursday.

May Income Growth, Spending Slow

Personal income growth slowed in May, people's spending didn't increase, and the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, the government reported Thursday.

99 Cents Only Fourth-Quarter Profit Falls

Discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores reported a 43 percent drop in its fiscal fourth-quarter profit because of lackluster sales in Texas and a large payment for its workers' compensation reserves.

Bank of America to Buy MBNA

Bank of America Corp. on Thursday said it will acquire MBNA Corp. in a $35 billion cash and stock deal that will transform the nation's third-largest bank into the world's largest credit card issuer.

Pricewaterhouse Settles Homestore Case for $17.5 Million

Pricewaterhouse Coopers agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging it neglected its responsibilities in failing to catch rampant accounting irregularities at Homestore.com in 2000 and 2002.

Unocal Sees Second-Quarter Earnings Above Expectations

Amid a robust takeover battle that pits Chevron Corp against CNOOC Ltd., Unocal Corp. on Thursday said it expects second-quarter earnings to meet or exceed Wall Street projections due to record-high oil prices.

Boeing Names 3M Chief as New CEO

Boeing Co., which has searched for a new leader since its chief executive was forced out in March over an affair, on Thursday named 3M Co. Chief Executive W. James McNerney as its new CEO.

Fed Raises Rate Another Quarter-Point

The Federal Reserve, keeping a watchful eye on the impact of surging oil prices, raised a key interest rate by another quarter-point on Thursday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Oil Retreats Below $57

Oil prices fell below $57 a barrel on Thursday, extending a steep sell-off from record highs after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Countrywide Financial to Buy KB Home's Mortgage Unit

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Thursday it has agreed to buy almost all of the assets of KB Home's mortgage business, KB Home Mortgage Co. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wednesday, June 29

LAX Contracting Procedures Could Be Better, Audit Says

The operator of Los Angeles International Airport improved the way it awards contracts but has a policy in which "ambiguity still rules the day," said an audit released Wednesday by City Controller Laura Chick.

Kaiser Aluminum Files Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan

Kaiser Aluminum Corp. filed a reorganization plan on Wednesday that projects emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the fourth quarter.

S & P; Cuts Supermarkets' Debt Ratings

Standard & Poor's cut the debt ratings of Kroger Co., Safeway Corp. and Albertson's Inc., citing competition from other retailers and the effects of a recent labor dispute in Southern California.

Calpine to Sell Domestic Oil, Gas Assets

Calpine Corp. said on Wednesday that it plans to sell all of its domestic oil and gas exploration and production assets for $1.05 billion.

Bidding War Brewing Over Unocal

As Unocal directors consider whether to recommend CNOOC's $18.5 billion bid to its shareholders, some analysts said they expect rival Chevron to come back to the table with a higher offer.

Mortgage Applications Dip Last Week

Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell for a second week despite a drop in the 30-year mortgage rate to a 15-month low, an industry group said on Wednesday.

DirecTV to File Complaint Over Fees

DirecTV Group Inc. is accusing a programming group owned by three cable companies of an illegal pricing scheme aimed at hurting its business, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Crude Eases on Rising Inventories

Oil prices fell by almost $1 a barrel Wednesday after the U.S. government released data that showed domestic supplies of oil, gasoline and distillate fuel rose last week.

Home Sales, Prices to Reach Record, CAR Predicts

Sales of existing single-family homes in California will reach a record in 2005, driven by lower-than-expected mortgage interest rates, according to the California Association of Realtors' mid-year forecast.

GDP Growth Revised Up

New-home building and strong exports helped the U.S. economy expand at a 3.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Stocks Down Ahead of Fed Decision

Anxiety surrounding the upcoming Fed's decision on interest rates sent stocks lower, overshadowing an increase in U.S. oil inventories and a solid advance in the gross domestic product.

Tuesday, June 28

Snow Says Oil Prices Hurting Economy

Record high oil prices are taking their toll on the U.S. economy, but not enough to halt or reverse the recovery, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said Tuesday.

William Lyon Buyout Offer Withdrawn

The controlling shareholder of William Lyon Homes announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing his proposal to take the company private, a week after a special committee called his offer "inadequate."

CNOOC Starts Talks With Unocal

CNOOC executives began selling the company's $18.5 billion bid in meetings with Unocal Corp., urging directors to accept the cash offer and seeking to defuse political concerns.

Sun to Buy SeeBeyond for $387 Million

Sun Microsystems Inc. said Tuesday it will acquire SeeBeyond Technology Corp. for $387 million, sending shares of the Monrovia-based provider of business-integration software surging 31 percent.

Business Briefs: Summa Industries, Jacobs Engineering, Jakks, Amgen, Apriso

Summa Industries releases quarterly results, Jakks Pacific signs a licensing agreement to produce toys based on the children's educational TV series Hi-5, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Consumers More Upbeat in June

U.S. consumer confidence, which improved in May, rose further in June to a three-year high, a report said on Tuesday.

AMD Files Antitrust Suit Against Intel

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel Corp., accusing its competitor of forcing customers into exclusive deals to keep them from buying AMD microprocessors.

Stocks Up as Oil Prices Drop

Stocks rallied back on Tuesday as crude oil prices fell more than $2 a barrel and consumer confidence jumped to a three-year high.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Crude Prices Fall Below $60

Oil prices dipped below $60 a barrel Tuesday on supply fears and concerns over the election of a hard-line president in Iran, the fourth-largest crude producer.

Ex-HealthSouth CEO Scrushy Acquitted

Jurors acquitted HealthSouth Corp. founder and ex-CEO Richard Scrushy on Tuesday of all charges related to a $2.7 billion earnings overstatement at the chain of medical-service centers.

Monday, June 27

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

CurtCo Buys San Diego Magazine Parent

Luxury market magazine publisher CurtCo Publishing has purchased the assets of San Diego Magazine Publishing Co., owner of San Diego Magazine. Financial details were not released.

Tech Boom Echo Heard in Revival of Venice Interactive

The Venice Interactive Community is coming back to life in a more subdued form than its previous incarnation.

New Looks on the L.A. Dining Scene

An overview of four high-profile hotel restaurants that have undergone major makeovers.

Stockbridge's Hollywood Park Bid Appears to Have a History

Hollywood Park's prospective buyers spent the past year working their way to the inside track.

United Front

Maria Elena Durazo discusses the death of her husband Miguel Contreras and the recent victory of hotel workers in a long-running contract dispute.

Judge Tells Burkle to Play Nice in Lawsuit Against Ovitz

An L.A. Superior Court judge has refused to throw out a breach-of-contract suit filed by billionaire Ron Burkle against agent Michael Ovitz, but told the supermarket magnate to tone down his "personal attacks" in court papers.

Union Dues Initiative Taking Shape as Biggest Battle in Special Election

Should union members have the ability to stop their dues from being used for political causes? That's at the center of what's expected to be one of the most heated battles in the November special election.

CNOOC Welcomes Scrutiny in Unocal Bid

CNOOC's CEO wrote in a letter to Congress Monday that the company is eager to have the U.S. government scrutinize the national security implications of its $18.5 billion offer for Unocal Corp.

Fire's Skirts Become Summer's Hottest Item

Scrap those minis full-bodied peasant skirts are the must-have for the summer and local apparel manufacturers and retailers are rushing to keep up with the trend.

Stocks Mixed in Late Afternoon Trading

Stocks barely budged Monday as Wall Street steadied itself after last week's losses and waited for the Federal Reserve's meeting on interest rates.

Honda Gearing Up for Run on Prius in a Battle for the Hybrid Market

Honda Motor Co. has made it clear that it intends to retake the lead in sales of gas-electric cars from Toyota Motor Co.'s Prius.

Schools Turning Out Scores of Newbies in Real Estate Market

Are business schools turning out a glut of property professionals who might not be able to continue their careers if the bubble bursts?

L.A. STORIES

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

ValueClick Ups Financial Outlook

ValueClick Inc. on Monday raised earnings and revenue forecasts after completing the acquisitions of Web Marketing Holdings Inc. and E-Babylon Inc.

Update: Hollywood Praises Grokster Ruling

Hollywood studios praised Monday's Supreme Court decision that Grokster and L.A.-based StreamCast Networks could be liable for copyright infringement if users illegally trade copyrighted material.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Gas Prices Up for Second Week

With oil topping $60 a barrel, gas prices in the L.A. area rose for the second straight week since mid-April, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Staying on the Ethical Track

When faced with ethical challenges, employees need to be motivated to follow the ethical course.

Eminent Domain Decision Spurs Talk of Tighter Guidelines

Developers across the country were encouraged last week when the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled that municipalities can forcibly take private property for economic development projects.

Controversial Issues Mean Vote Will Follow Avalanche of Ads

Local broadcast executives are bracing for a multi-million dollar windfall of ads, courtesy of hot topics on the November ballot.

City National President Emphasizing Customer Service

The newly appointed president of City National Bank, Christopher J. Warmuth, is determined to make relationships and customer service a primary focus of the bank.

Burst of Real Estate Bubble Could Result in Recession, Economists Say

UCLA economists believe that the burst of the housing bubble could result in a recession.

New Faces, Old Name Are Part of Formula for Bank in Valley

When Dave Rainer decided to open his own bank, he hoped to raise $25 million in a private offering. He was shocked when investors lined up to pour money into the new Encino-based California United Bank.

HealthSouth Restates Results

HealthSouth Corp. restated financial results for 2000 and 2001 in its long-awaited 10-K filed on Monday as the rehabilitation services provider works to recover from an accounting scandal.

Bid for Unocal Points to New Era

CNOOC Ltd.'s unsolicited bid for Unocal Corp. raised a political outcry. But it's likely to be followed by other offers from overseas.

Broker Takes Second Shot at Intermix

Stockbroker Rafi Kahn has filed a second suit against Intermix Media Inc.

Crude Over $60 on Supply Worries

Oil prices settled at a record high above $60 a barrel on Monday amid concerns that supplies would not meet U.S. demand.

Can Fancy Pants Denim Brands Get Men to Follow the Women?

Local manufacturers of high-end jeans are expanding new lines that they hope will appeal to male consumers.

Spanish TV Networks See Variety as Spice of Late-Night

Univision and Telemundo plan to launch late-night variety shows to replace a mishmash of programming in the formerly neglected midnight slot.

Termination Should Be Handled With Caution

Marla Bradley, chief executive of the L.A.-based consulting firm Bradley/Lambert Inc., said there are two possible scenarios involved in termination, and she explained how each should be handled.

Suddenly, Light Rail Line to Westside Has Gotten Onto the Fast Track

After two decades of failed attempts, the first light rail line from downtown to L.A.'s Westside could begin construction this fall.

Newbies Leaving Their Mark on the Los Angeles Landscape

A look at how three properties the Herald Examiner building, Hollywood & Vine Plaza and the Los Angeles Air Force Base are being developed.

General Litigation Firms Crack A-List With Hollywood Studios

Consolidation in Hollywood has opened up opportunities for larger law firms.

Success Came to Barney's Beanery When Things Didn't Change

When David Houston and Avi Fattal took over Barney's Beanery, they thought they'd have to make some changes. But the more things stayed the same, the better they did.

Business Leaders Pick Up Tab for Villaraigosa's Inaugural

Antonio Villaraigosa is set to take office as the 41st mayor of L.A. this week during a string of inauguration festivities and private donors, many of them with business ties to the city, are picking up the tab.

Starting Out Means Long Days, and No Dream Wheels or Perks

Commercial real estate often brings with it six-figure incomes, but at the entry level, you can forget about the luxury cars.

Video Game Maker Bringing in Executives to Play on Sales Side

Activision has been stacking its management team with executives more accustomed to selling water, coffee and fantasy trading cards

Advice From the Veterans

Veterans say the new generation will have to embrace the values of its predecessors.

Stocks Dip on Record Oil Prices

Stocks ended slightly lower on Monday as Wall Street began to right itself after last week's losses, but investors largely shrugged off record high oil prices that weighed on the markets.

Making Their Names

They're a hardworking but impatient bunch, as these 20 developers, agents and architects describe themselves in a Business Journal survey.

The Youth Brigade

Los Angeles has its share of young high-fliers who have used tenacity, energy, quick wits and an element of luck to score big in what's always a cutthroat market.

Friday, June 24

Business Briefs: Hi-Shear Technology Corp., Semtech Corp.

Hi-Shear Technology Corp. receives a $3.5 million contract to make analog recovery sequencers for the Navy and Semtech Corp. completes its acquisition of Swiss-based Xemics SA.

Home Sales, Durable Goods Orders Up

Sales of new homes in May climbed to the second highest level in history, and orders to U.S. factories for durable goods rose at the fastest pace in 14 months, the government said Friday.

Stockbridge's Hollywood Park Bid Appears to Have a History

The private equity firm that unexpectedly emerged as the lead bidder for Hollywood Park first proposed buying the racetrack last year, long before owner Churchill Downs Inc. formally sought buyers.

Citigroup, Legg Mason to Swap Assets

Citigroup will swap most of its asset-management business in exchange for the broker-dealer business of Legg Mason, as well as Legg Mason stock and a loan to the financial-services firm.

CNOOC Makes Case for Unocal Bid

The head of Chinese oil company CNOOC made a case for its $18.5 billion cash bid for El Segundo-based Unocal Corp., and said he would be willing to sell some U.S. assets.

L.A. Gas Prices Reverse Course

The nine-week decline in L.A. gas prices has ended and prices are heading back up, reflecting a sharp jump in crude futures, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Fire's Skirts Are Summer's Hottest Item

Scrap those minis full-bodied peasant skirts are the must-have for the summer and local apparel manufacturers and retailers are rushing to keep up with the trend.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Sports Club Gets AMEX Delisting Notice

The high-end gym operator has been hit with a notice from the American Stock Exchange, warning that it may delist the company for not filing its latest annual and quarterly reports.

Angels' Name-Change Decision Looms

The Angels and the city of Anaheim are awaiting a key appeals court decision due Monday on owner Arte Moreno's name change of the baseball team.

Oil Prices Settle Near $60

Crude oil futures settled at a record near $60 a barrel Friday as prices rose on speculative buying and fears of supply disruptions due to refinery glitches.

Caruso Resigns From L.A. Board of Police Commissioners

Citing a need to focus more on his business activities, developer Rick Caruso resigned today from the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. The resignation is effective July 1.

Stocks Take a Beating on High Oil

The Dow Jones Industrial Average weathered its second straight loss of more than 100 points on Friday as investors became pessimistic about the impact of oil prices near $60 a barrel.

Thursday, June 23

Existing Home Sales Near Record

Sales of existing homes slowed slightly in May but still came in at the second-highest level on record with home prices hitting an all-time high.

Stocks Plunge on Surging Oil

Stocks lost substantial ground Thursday, as crude oil futures briefly rose to $60 a barrel for the first time, stoking anxieties about the drag on the economy by rising energy prices.

GE Realigns Businesses, Affirms Forecast

General Electric Co. on Thursday said it is streamlining its businesses to six units from 11 to cut costs, and it affirmed its second-quarter and full-year profit forecast.

Oil Briefly Hits Record $60

Oil prices surged on Thursday, briefly touching a record $60 a barrel as dealers worried that continued strong demand growth would strain global production capacity.

Hedge Funds Spur Private Equity Offerings

The amount of hedge-fund money flowing into public companies has skyrocketed in the past year, thanks to a financing mechanism known as "private investment in public equity."

Update: Chick Prods Port for Leasing Improvements

In a new audit, City Controller Laura Chick criticized officials at the Port of Los Angeles for slow progress in cleaning up port leasing policies. Harbor Commission President Nicholas Tonsich responded that Chick was "unqualified."

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Jobless Claims Decline by 20,000

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, signaling that job growth should remain strong in the months ahead.

Business Briefs: Maguire Properties, Hilton Hotels, Ameron International

Maguire Properties, Inc. strikes a deal for two new leases totaling 270,000 square feet in Irvine, Hilton Hotels Corp. sells two of its hotels, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Wednesday, June 22

Mortgage Applications Down Last Week

Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week due to a decline in purchasing and refinancing as mortgage rates rose slightly, an industry group said Wednesday.

Stocks Mixed on Earnings, Ford Warning

Stocks ended mixed Wednesday as disappointing earnings from Morgan Stanley and a profit warning from Ford eclipsed a slight drop in crude-oil prices.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Truck Drivers Could Put Brakes on Easing of Harbor Congestion

Less congestion is expected at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during this summer's peak shipping season, but a potential shortage of port truck drivers could lead to problems.

Update: CNOOC Makes Bid for Unocal

CNOOC Ltd.'s offer late Wednesday to buy Unocal for $18.5 billion puts pressure on Chevron to up its $16.6 billion offer and sets up a showdown between U.S. politicians over whether Chinese-owned CNOOC ought to be able to purchase Unocal.

Oil Prices Below $59 on Supply Dip

Oil prices traded lower on Wednesday after the U.S. government released data showing a decline in crude inventories but a build in gasoline and distillate fuels.

Morgan Stanley's Profit Dips 24 Percent

Profit at Morgan Stanley fell in the second quarter, the company said Wednesday, due to market conditions and higher legal expenses in connection with lawsuits.

Barbie Stage Show Aims to Boost Brand

Mattel Inc. announced Wednesday it has teamed up with Clear Channel Entertainment Productions to stage a live-action Barbie musical tour based on characters from a popular direct-to-video movie.

Tuesday, June 21

Oil Prices Just Below $59

Oil prices dipped from record highs on Tuesday but stayed close to $59 on global supply fears as the market once more brushed aside an OPEC pledge to add barrels.

UCLA Economists Expect Housing Downturn to Pack Wallop

The end of an inflated housing market will likely lead to a recession after April 2006 that hits hard in Southern California, according to the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

William Lyon Buyout Offer Rejected

A special committee formed by William Lyon Homes said that an offer by the homebuilder's controlling shareholder and chairman to take the company private is "inadequate."

Chain Store Sales Up in June's Third Week

U.S. chain store sales rose in the third week of June, as Father's Day, graduations and warmer weather drove sales, a report said on Tuesday.

China's Haier Bids for Maytag

Haier Group and private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone Group have bid $1.28 billion for Maytag Corp., topping Ripplewood Holdings LLC's offer for the U.S. washer maker.

AMC, Loews Cineplex to Merge

AMC Entertainment Inc. and Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. said Tuesday they plan to merge, and will be led by AMC Chief Executive Peter Brown.

Stocks Mixed on Near-Record Oil

The Nasdaq got a lift on Tuesday from semiconductor shares that gained on a brokerage upgrade, but near-record oil prices weighed down the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500.

Business Briefs: ValueClick, Gamma Medica, HCL Inglewood Village

ValueClick raises its earnings outlook, Gamma Medica combines its operations with Ideas ASA, and HCL Inglewood Village gets a $25.3 million construction loan from GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

CNOOC's Unocal Bid Likely This Week

China National Offshore Oil Corp. reportedly may bid nearly $20 billion in cash for Unocal Corp. sometime this week, trumping Chevron Corp.'s $16 billion stock-and-cash offer made on April 4.

Monday, June 20

Working Couples Change the Rules

While the wife as breadwinner, and husband as "daily dad" may not be for everyone, it's a lifestyle choice whose time has come.

Atlantic Crossing

Northrop Grumman's plan to team up with the European parent of Airbus carries the potential for real gains along with major risks.

Truck Drivers Could Put Brakes on Easing of Harbor Congestion

Less congestion is expected at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during this summer's peak shipping season, but a potential shortage of port truck drivers could lead to problems.

Crude Futures Reach New High

Oil prices hit a new intraday high near $60 a barrel even as the president of OPEC said Monday the group will consider raising its output ceiling by 500,000 barrels as early as this week.

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

Dark Horse Sets Pace in Race for Hollywood Park

Stockbridge Capital Partners, owner of Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, has emerged as the leading candidate to acquire Hollywood Park with a bid of about $275 million.

Architectural Technology Firm Poised to Benefit From Boom

American Reprographics Co., the low-profile company that sells architectural drawing software and services, is looking to take advantage of new technology.

Election Sets Off Chain Reaction of Contests

A series of unexpected political events has created two openings on the L.A. City Council, and several vacancies in other chambers could materialize before the year is out.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Puck's Cooking Up Business at Museums, Other Cultural Sites

The Hollywood-based catering arm of Wolfgang Puck's food enterprise has recently added the Griffith Park Observatory, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Indianapolis Museum of Art to its list of clients.

Lawmakers Want Probe of Unocal Bid

Two U.S. congressmen asked the Bush administration to review and potentially block any effort by China's CNOOC Ltd. to acquire Unocal Corp., The Wall Street Journal reported.

Warner Alleges Banks' Footage Held Hostage

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. has sued a New York ad agency, alleging that the firm withheld newly made videotapes of Tyra Banks.

Curse of Haunted House Results in 'Amityville Horror' Litigation

George Lutz, whose family's stay in a Long Island house was the basis for the "The Amityville Horror," has filed a libel suit against the producers of this year's profitable remake of the classic horror picture.

Easy Listening? Not Today's Radio

Radio stations, already facing slow growth, are now figuring out how they can compete with non-stop music offered by iPods.

Hedge Funds Spur Private Equity Offerings

The amount of hedge-fund money flowing into public companies has skyrocketed in the past year, thanks to a financing mechanism known as "private investment in public equity."

Family to Take Cablevision Private

Cablevision Systems Corp.'s controlling shareholders on Monday offered to take the cable operator private in a $7.9 billion deal that would also spin off its cable networks and sports team businesses.

Business Briefs: Disney, International Aluminum, Homestore, Tarrant Apparel, Evergreen Realty

Broadcom Chairman Henry Samueli completes the purchase of the Mighty Ducks from Walt Disney Co., International Aluminum Corp. names a new CEO, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

After Merger, Profit Sharing Battle Leads to Exodus From Akin Gump

In the latest of an ongoing series of departures, the L.A. office of Akin Gump has lost two key partners in recent weeks.

City Whittling Down Funds for Convention Center Hotel

The developers of a proposed convention center hotel are getting a little less public support to get the project off the ground.

FBI Chief's Departure Raises Questions Over L.A. Office Leadership

Many top-level FBI supervisors and agents have retired early in L.A., where housing prices and the cost of living make it more challenging for the FBI to retain both agents and managers.

United Online Tries to Prove It Can Outlast Cheap Broadband

When SBC slashed its price for DSL Internet service to $14.95 per month, investors knew United Online Inc. was in trouble; the Woodland Hills-based company now has to prove it has a future.

Have Answers Ready When It's Time to Sell

Mike Dunkel, a broker for Sunbelt Business Brokers of Southern California, said that deciding to sell a small business is the first step in a complex process.

Web Sites Launch Search Party to Target Local Advertisers

Search engines are all the rage but the technology behind them has made it difficult for local companies to stand out from the crowd. That may be changing.

Leading Indicators Decline in May

A closely watched gauge of future business activity fell in May, a private research group announced Monday.

Timing Was a Decisive Factor in End of Strike at Coca-Cola Plant

It only took two weeks of picket lines for drivers, bottlers and warehouse workers to reach an agreement with the nation's largest Coca-Cola bottling operation. How did they do it?

Shooting Stars

For all the negative attention L.A.'s paparazzi have received in recent weeks, here's the truth about the incessant photographing of celebrities: It actually helps many local merchants.

MTV Networks Buys Online Site NeoPets

Viacom's MTV Networks has acquired Glendale-based NeoPets Inc., owner of the teen site NeoPets.com., for an undisclosed sum, though the deal has been pegged at $160 million in news reports.

L.A Gas Prices Up for First Time in Two Months

L.A.-area gas prices rose by about 3 cents a gallon in the past week, the first weekly rise since mid-April, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Adelphia Founder Gets 15 Years

Adelphia founder John Rigas was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison for his role in the looting and debt-hiding scandal that bankrupted the cable company.

She's Matching Mansion Owners With Producers and Secret-Location Parties

Sherri Milligan was offered $60,000 for a film shoot at her house. Thus was born her business, Sunset Locations, where she markets mansions to production companies.

McKay to Play the Field With New Post at Jeffer Mangels

John McKay has been involved in sports as a player, manager, and attorney, and he brings that expertise to his new post at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP.

Record Oil Prices Drag Down Stocks

Stocks ended the day slightly lower on Monday as investors appeared to take in stride oil prices that closed at a record high near $60 per barrel.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Business Journal Wins Top Honor

The Business Journal was recognized by the Alliance of Area Business Publications and the Los Angeles Press Club.

Practice Test

Antonio Villaraigosa may have played a key role in the settlement of a hotel contract battle, but business leaders say he will keep the city's interest above his loyalty to labor.

Chip Makers See Shares Rally as Tech Sector Begins Recovery

Semiconductors were quite the spectacle in May. Could this be the start of a bigger tech rally?

Wrapping Up Wrap Years, Tacone Brings Back the Cone

Besides reintroducing its taco-in-a-cone concept, Flavor Firm is broadening Tacone's menu offerings in a bid for a bigger bite of the fast-casual sector.

Bank Shot

Sung Won Sohn wants to diversify Hanmi Financial Corp.'s activity beyond the Korean community and real estate lending.

Friday, June 17

CNOOC Near Unocal Counterbid

China National Offshore Oil Corp. moved closer to making a counter-offer to trump Chevron Corp.'s $16 billion bid for Unocal, the Financial Times reported.

Mayor-Elect Names Kramer Chief of Staff

L.A. Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa made several high-level appointments on Friday, including veteran City Hall aide Robin Kramer as his chief of staff.

Stocks Rise on Confidence Jump

Stocks ended higher on Friday, as investors cheered a jump in consumer confidence and shrugged off concerns over soaring oil prices and a rising trade deficit.

U.S. Current Account Gap Widens

The deficit in the broadest measure of international trade rose to an all-time high January through March of this year as the U.S. sank deep into debt to Japan, China and other nations.

Oil Prices Climb Above $58

Crude oil prices surged to a record above $58 a barrel Friday on fears of insufficient gasoline supplies during the high-demand U.S. summer driving season.

Dark Horse Sets Pace in Race for Hollywood Park

Stockbridge Capital Partners, owner of Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, has emerged as the leading candidate to acquire Hollywood Park with a bid of about $275 million.

Bank of America Buys into China Bank

Bank of America said it would pay $3 billion for a 9 percent stake in China Construction Bank, the largest single foreign investment in China's banking sector.

L.A. Gas Price Drop Likely Ending

Gas prices in L.A. and much of Southern California dipped the past week, but the nine-week decline is likely ending as the summer driving season kicks off, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Stocks Up on Consumer Confidence

Stocks moved higher Friday, boosted by stronger-than-expected consumer sentiment in early June as higher oil prices lifted energy shares.

County Unemployment Rises Even as Employers Add Jobs

L.A. County's unemployment rate inched up in May to 5.8 percent, even as employers added more workers to their payrolls, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

Ex-Tyco Executives Convicted

L. Dennis Kozlowski and Mark H. Swartz, accused of looting hundreds of millions of dollars from Tyco International Ltd., were convicted Friday of grand larceny and other charges.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Thursday, June 16

Hotel Workers Approve New Contract

Unionized workers at nine major L.A. hotels ratified a new contract that puts an end to a 14-month dispute and aligns expiration dates in 2006 with other union locals around the country.

Volcom Prices IPO Shares

Surfwear maker Volcom Inc. on Thursday took a step closer to going public by pricing its shares at $15 to $17. The company expects to raise between $63 million and $71 million.

KB Home Profit Surges 78 Percent

KB Home on Thursday said its quarterly profit rose 78 percent, boosted by higher sales and improved margins in its homebuilding business. The L.A.-based company also raised its earnings guidance.

NHL Approves Sale of Mighty Ducks

The National Hockey League's Board of Governors approved Walt Disney Co.'s sale of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to Broadcom Corp. Chairman Henry Samueli and his wife, Susan.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Summit Sells Major Oakland Property

Summit Commercial Properties and its parent Highridge Partners, both of El Segundo, sold the 900,000-square-foot Kaiser Center in Oakland to Swig Co. for a reported $200 million.

Stocks Up a Bit After Tepid Reports

Stocks ended higher for the fourth straight day Thursday after lukewarm housing starts and jobless claims reports didn't give investors much direction about the economy.

Pfizer to Buy Vicuron for $1.9 Billion

Pfizer Inc. agreed on Thursday to acquire biopharmaceutical company Vicuron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $1.9 billion in cash, the companies announced.

Tishman Sells Oft-Traded Tower Burbank

A partnership led by Tishman Speyer Properties Inc. has struck a deal to sell its 473,000-square-foot, 32-story Tower Burbank for $167 million.

Oil Hits Two-Month High

Oil rose to a two-month high on Thursday, paced by a rally in gasoline as dealers focused on rising demand for fuels and a lack of new refineries to push up production.

Housing Starts Up, Jobless Claims Rise

U.S. housing starts rose in May, but fell shy of expectations, while a report on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits edged higher.

Business Briefs: Chad Therapeutics, Image Entertainment, CarsDirect, Computer Sciences Corp.

Chad Therapeutics Inc. and Image Entertainment Inc. release fourth-quarter results, CarsDirect selects Internet Brands, Inc. as its new parent company name, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks Up on Housing Numbers

Stocks were little changed Thursday as tepid housing start and jobless claims reports gave investors few clues about direction of the economy and interest rates.

Wednesday, June 15

Business Briefs: National Lampoon, Capstone Turbine, VU Games, Kilroy Realty, DirecTV, Jakks Pacific

National Lampoon Inc. releases third quarter results, Capstone Turbine Corp. says it can't file its annual report on time and asks for a 15-day extension, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Crisis Manager Sues Over Financial Crisis

PR executive Mike Sitrick is suing two financial institutions to recover $6.5 million in investments he made on behalf of his family's trust, alleging the full risks of the portfolios were hidden.

Napster, Ericsson Launch Music Service

Napster and Ericsson announced Wednesday they are launching a digital music service for mobile phones, a move seen as an effort to cut down Apple's dominance in the online music arena.

Oil Prices Climb as Domestic Supply Falls

Oil prices rose Wednesday after OPEC's decision to boost its output target and a government report showed domestic supplies shrank last week amid higher demand.

Stocks End Slightly Higher

Stocks eked out a third day of gains as the Fed's Beige Book data soothed inflation worries. Surging oil prices had kept the major indexes down for most of the day.

MCI Stakeholder Files Proxy Against Verizon

Deephaven Capital Management filed with regulators on Wednesday to solicit shareholder votes opposing Verizon's $8.4 billion acquisition of MCI.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Viacom Approves Split Into Two Companies

Viacom Inc. has approved a plan to separate itself into a company centered on broadcast TV and another one built around cable networks.

IHOP Gets Wireless Internet

IHOP Corp. signed a deal with Wayport Inc. to provide wireless Internet access in select restaurants in 21 states. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Consumer Prices Drop in May

Consumer prices fell 0.1 percent in May, the first decline in 10 months, as energy prices retreated after a big run-up in the previous three months.

Tuesday, June 14

Wholesale Prices Dip, Retail Sales Fall

Wholesale prices fell 0.6 percent in May, the biggest decline in more than two years, and retail sales slipped by 0.5 percent, the first decline in nine months.

Inflation Data Raises Stocks

Stocks ended slightly higher for a second straight day Tuesday after the government released mixed economic data and Best Buy Co. Inc. reported a huge jump in quarterly profit.

Intermix Settles With Spitzer

Intermix Media Inc. agreed to pay $7.5 million to the State of New York to settle a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accusing the company of peddling spyware.

Disney Suit Sets Date

A lawsuit filed by former Walt Disney Co. director Roy Disney that seeks to void the company's last board election will go to trial Aug. 10.

Business Briefs: Tracinda, Mattel, Reliance Steel & Aluminum, FirstFed Financial, Tetra Tech

Tracinda completes its purchase of General Motors Corp. shares, nearly 34,000 scooters and mini-bikes made by Mattel's Fisher-Price are recalled, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Chain Store Sales Up in Latest Week

U.S. chain store retail sales rose in the latest week, helped by warmer weather in the eastern United States, a retail report said on Tuesday.

Jackson Rehired as Lakers' Coach

Phil Jackson, who coached the L.A. Lakers to three world champions in five seasons, was rehired Tuesday by owner Jerry Buss, just a year after pushing Jackson into retirement.

Blackstone Group Snags Wyndham

Hotel owner Wyndham International Inc. on Tuesday said it will be bought by private equity firm Blackstone Group in a deal it valued at $3.2 billion.

Jackson Returns as Lakers' Coach

Phil Jackson is back as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, whom he guided to four Finals appearances in five seasons, the Associated Press reported.

OPEC Looks to Ease High Oil Prices

With its clout and credibility at stake, OPEC leaders said Tuesday they will attempt to lower soaring oil prices by raising the cartel's production target.

Jakks Buys Pet Pal Line

Toymaker Jakks Pacific Inc. said Tuesday that it acquired a line of pet toys through the Pet Pal Corp. from an unnamed privately held seller. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Monday, June 13

Federal Case

Richard Garcia, who has handled some of the FBI's highest-profile cases, is retiring after a year and a half as the Los Angeles bureau chief.

Joking's Over in Radio Litigation

An all-comedy radio network has sued its former founder over financial problems, claiming he left to start a new business and negotiate a venture with National Lampoon Inc.

Morgan Stanley CEO Purcell to Retire

Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO Philip J. Purcell, acknowledging that calls for his ouster have hurt the investment firm, said Monday he will retire as soon as a successor can be found.

Transformation of Miracle Mile

Several construction projects are under way in a wave of development that will transform the area by adding many new businesses and residences.

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

Chinese Radio Rides Demographic Wave

They're affluent. They're well educated. They're populous. And they listen to the radio a lot. Those are the findings of a study of L.A.'s Chinese radio market.

At Staples Center, Some Suite Holders Get Credit for Lost Season

Some Staples luxury box holders got reimbursed for the lost hockey season, depending on whether they signed extensions of their original contract.

Tribute to a Dad Who Followed a Perfume Path to Los Angeles

Dad was a broad-shouldered, blue-collar guy, a six-footer with a Brooklyn accent. I still get a kick out of thinking of him learning the art and science of fragrances.

Geek Support

When you're at the office, you've always called IT. Now, when you're at home, retailers send a "geek" to find the glitch in your computer or your flat-screen TV.

Keeping Them Happy

Local businesspeople entertain their guests all sorts of ways, from a game at Dodger Stadium to a beach bike ride.

Pave the Way

Driveway paving stones has led to a comeback for Terry Morrill, who was wiped out by the 1990s real estate bust.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Makes Call for Special Election

California voters will be asked Nov. 8 to make decisions on eight proposals, including three from the governor on legislative redistricting, the budget and teacher tenure.

FirstFed Bets Lower-End Loans Will Survive Property Downturn

Babette Heimbuch has a theory on who will bear the brunt of a real estate downturn, if it comes: It will be borrowers who stretched themselves thin to purchase multi-million-dollar homes.

Tishman Sells Oft-Traded Tower Burbank for $167 Million

A partnership led by Tishman Speyer Properties Inc. has struck a deal to sell its 32-story Tower Burbank for $167 million.

Software No Fix For Billing Fraud

While billing programs are common, the indictment against P.R. executive Doug Dowie affirms an open industry secret: these systems do little to prevent fraud

Drinking, Eating and Getting Faxed at L.A.'s Best Hotels

A subjective evaluation of some of the best Los Angeles has to offer on a business trip, from wonderful workouts to potent potables.

Play That Funky Music, Just Not on That Emmis Antenna

KPWR-FM has filed suit over KLOX-FM's lease for use of an antenna owned by its corporate parent.

Leasing Requires Care at Several Key Phases

Mark E. Robinson, corporate managing director of Studley, a national commercial real estate firm specializing in tenant representation and advisory services, discusses the key phases of selecting office space and signing a lease.

Investors Reposition Amid Uncertainty of Real Estate

Real estate investors are showing tentative signs of getting out or at least lightening up on assets deemed vulnerable to a market drop, even as prices continue to rise.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Welcome to L.A.

It's not your fault if the 405 is backed up or the hotel is overbooked, but any business experience good or bad could reflect on the host. So what can you do to make sure your clients enjoy their trip?

'Die Hard' Architects Shift Focus From Office Towers to Hot Housing Market

Scott Johnson and William Fain have moved from designing office towers to mixed-use projects, with skyscrapers rare and urban complexes everywhere.

Holiday Inn Reaches for New Sense of Style

Joining the trend of lower-priced hotels that retain a stylish veneer, a San Francisco-based operator of boutique hotels is transforming the 211-room Holiday Inn Brentwood/Bel Air.

L.A Gas Prices Continue Decline

Los Angeles-area gas prices continued slipping, falling nearly 4 cents a gallon last week, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Oil Surge Limits Stock Gains

Stocks ended higher on Monday, as investors weighed the departure of Morgan Stanley CEO Phil Purcell against surging oil prices.

L.A. Times Takes Web Page Out of Craigslist

With Craigslist.org and other Web sites siphoning classified ads from newspapers, the L.A. Times is coming up with new Web sites and a planned revamp of classified ads on latimes.com.

OPEC May Increase Production Ceiling

OPEC is expected to raise its daily output quota by 500,000 barrels when it meets Wednesday, though the move should have little impact on oil prices.

Financial Pressure Rises at L.A. Area's Hospitals

A study shows that more than a quarter of L.A.-area hospitals have limited access to capital, while even the best performing facilities are overleveraged.

Cargo Theft on Rise, Despite Increase in Enforcement

The ports have boosted security, but cargo theft remains a big problem, with trucks vulnerable after leaving the terminals.

Improvements Planned With Sale of Promenade at Howard Hughes

In California's largest retail center transaction this year, the Promenade at Howard Hughes is being sold.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Crisis Manager Has Financial Crisis of His Own

PR executive Mike Sitrick has filed a lawsuit over investment losses, alleging the full risks of the portfolios were hidden.

ValueClick to Acquire Two Web Firms

ValueClick Inc. said Monday that it agreed to buy privately held companies Web Marketing Holdings Inc. and E-Babylon Inc. in cash and stock deals worth nearly $156 million.

MannKind Shares Fall on Downgrade, Suit

Shares of MannKind Corp. tumbled today after an analyst downgraded the company over several concerns, including a recent lawsuit accusing it of making false statements to the FDA.

News Corp Buys Back $3 Billion in Stock

News Corp. on Monday said it planned to buy back up to $3 billion of its stock, responding to calls from shareholders to put its cash to work.

It's Easier Done Than Said When in Need of Directions

It can be difficult to describe how to get from here to there, so the Business Journal road-tested local folks' knowledge of their city.

Business Briefs: National Technical Systems Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., Disney, CB Richard Ellis

National Technical Systems releases quarterly results, Computer Sciences Corp. buys the shares of CSA Holdings Ltd. it doesn't already own for $42.7 million, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Friday, June 10

FTC OKs Chevron, Unocal Merger

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday cleared the way for Chevron Corp. to acquire Unocal Corp. for $18 billion, voting 4-0 to settle a complaint against Unocal alleging anticompetitive practices.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Gas Prices Lower for Eighth Week

For the second straight month, gasoline prices in LA. moved lower, but local prices may bottom out soon, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Stocks Mixed on Intel Outlook

Stocks finished mixed on Friday. Technology stocks fell after Intel Corp raised its second-quarter outlook by less than some analysts had hoped.

Business Briefs: Be Media, Cogent Systems, Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin

El Segundo-based Be Media agrees to be acquired by Magic Media Networks Inc., Cogent Systems wins a $34 million contract for an I.D. program in Morocco, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Trade Deficit Higher in April

The U.S. trade deficit rose 12 percent in April to $56.96 billion, reflecting a surge in oil imports to the second highest level on record, the government said Friday.

Holiday Inn Brentwood to Get Makeover

Joining the trend of lower-priced hotels that retain a stylish veneer, a San Francisco-based operator of boutique hotels is transforming the 211-room Holiday Inn Brentwood/Bel Air.

Update: Hotels Vote to Lock Out Workers

Six L.A.-area hotels voted to lock out workers after Unite HERE Local 11 called a strike at the Hyatt West Hollywood in a dispute over health care payments. The lockout takes effect at midnight on Saturday.

Citigroup to Pay $2 Billion in Enron Suit

Citigroup Inc. said on Friday it will pay $2 billion to Enron Corp. shareholders who accused it of helping the energy trader in a massive accounting fraud.

Thursday, June 9

Home Affordability in L.A. Falls in April

The number of people who could afford to purchase median-priced homes in the L.A. region decreased sharply in April from the year-earlier period, the California Association of Realtors said.

CarsDirect Buys Financing Unit

CarsDirect has acquired 1-800 Communications in an effort to expand its loan options for people with low credit ratings, the El Segundo-based Internet car-shopping service announced Thursday.

Former Fleishman-Hillard Executive Sugerman Pleads Guilty

A third Fleishman-Hillard Inc. executive was charged today and pleaded guilty with participating in a scheme to overbill the city in a $3 million-per-year contract with the Department of Water & Power.

Oil Prices Rise Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Crude oil futures rose Thursday on concerns about refinery disruptions due to Tropical Storm Arlene and as traders looked ahead to next week's OPEC meeting.

600,000 Become Millionaires in 2004

There were 8.3 million people worldwide with $1 million or more in financial assets at the end of 2004, up from 7.7 million a year earlier, a report said.

Greenspan Says Economy on Fairly Firm Ground

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that with the U.S. economy on a "reasonably firm footing" and underlying prices tame, policy-makers should be able to raise interest rates at a measured pace.

Stocks Rise After Greenspan Testimony

Stocks rebounded Thursday, helped along by a positive view of the economy from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and anticipation of good results from Intel's business update.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Chevron, Unocal Reach FTC Deal

Chevron Corp. and Unocal Corp. said on Wednesday they had reached a proposed settlement of antitrust charges over gasoline patents with the Federal Trade Commission.

Jobless Claims Fall Last Week

The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 21,000 last week, the biggest decline in seven weeks, the government reported Thursday.

Truckers Upset Over Lack of Bonus for Night Duty at Port

Changes to the PierPass program, which is designed to reduce truck congestion at local ports by shifting cargo pick-up hours, leave no funds to pay truckers incentives to work port duty at night.

Business Briefs: UTI Worldwide, Northrop, Activision, DirecTV

UTI Worldwide Inc. reports first-quarter results, Northrop Grumman Corp. is awarded a five-year contract with NASA valued up to $200 million, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Wednesday, June 8

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Rally Fizzles as Oil Prices Fall

Oil prices dipped below $53 a barrel on Wednesday after a rally sparked by a drop in supplies fizzled and brokers locked in profits from a recent runup.

Northrop, Airbus Teaming Up

Northrop Grumman and the parent company of Airbus agreed to join forces to try to break Boeing Co.'s monopoly on supplying refueling planes to the Pentagon, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Stocks Dip on White House Forecast

Stocks slid Wednesday after a lower 2005 GDP forecast from the Bush administration dampened investors' enthusiasm over positive corporate news and lower oil prices.

Kerkorian Extends Stake in GM

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. on Wednesday boosted its stake in General Motors to 7.2 percent after it purchased 18.9 million shares as part of a tender offer launched last month.

Business Briefs: Korn/Ferry, North American Scientific, Disney, DirecTV, Countrywide, OSI Systems, Sew Cal Logo

Korn/Ferry International and North American Scientific release quarterly results, Disney acquires UK-based game developer Minds Eye Productions, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Wholesale Inventories Climb

Inventories at U.S. wholesalers rose 0.8 percent in April, double analyst expectations, as automotive stocks swelled, government data showed on Wednesday.

IAC Sells Vivendi Stake to NBC Universal

Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp said Wednesday it sold its 5.4 percent stake in Vivendi Universal Entertainment to NBC Universal for $3.4 billion.

Tuesday, June 7

Oil Prices Fall Below $54

Oil prices sagged below $54 a barrel Tuesday as the buying frenzy for heating oil eased.

Pasadena Withdraws From NFL Contention

The Pasadena City Council on Monday night withdrew the Rose Bowl from contention to host a future NFL team, leaving the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the city of Anaheim as the remaining two sites.

Western Dig Added to Index

Western Digital Corp. will replace Caesars Entertainment Inc. in the S & P; MidCap 400 after the close of trading on June 13, the agency said.

Disney, Pixar in Talks About Agreement

Disney President Robert Iger said the company has opened talks to extend an agreement with Pixar to continue distributing films made by the computer-animation studio, Bloomberg News reported.

Rate Uncertainty Tempers Market Rise

Stocks reversed early gains Tuesday after Federal Reserve officials sent mixed signals on when the central bank will finish raising interest rates.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Apria Explores Possible Company Sale

Apria Healthcare Group Inc. said it hired Morgan Stanley as a first step toward possibly being acquired, sending its shares surging more than 15 percent.

Business Briefs: Tracinda, Cherokee, Virco Manufacturing, Teledyne, Reynaldo's, Occidental Petroleum

Tracinda's offer to purchase up to 28 million shares of General Motors Corp. stock expires without a word, Cherokee and Virco Manufacturing report first-quarter results, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks Mixed After Fed Official Remarks

Stocks gave up substantial early gains and staggered to a mixed finish Tuesday after a Federal Reserve official warned that interest rates might continue to climb.

GM to Cut 25,000 U.S. Jobs by 2008

General Motors plans to eliminate 25,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2008 and to close plants as part of a strategy to revive its struggling North American operations.

CNOOC May Challenge Bid for Unocal

China's biggest offshore oil producer, CNOOC Ltd., said on Tuesday it was still looking at buying Unocal Corp., putting it back in contention with Chevron's $16.4 billion bid for the El Segundo-based producer.

Hotel Room Rates in L.A. County Rise

L.A. County visitors paid nearly $126.87 to spend a night in a hotel room this April, up nearly 10 percent from the same month last year, according to data released Tuesday by PKF Consulting.

Monday, June 6

Santa Monica Eyes Mix of Pricey Stores on Promenade

On the Santa Monica Promenade, it's tough to strike the right balance between the major chains and the unique boutiques.

Dowie Pleads Not Guilty to Charges

Doug Dowie, former general manager of Fleishman-Hillard's L.A. office, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges he over-billed the city on a $3 million annual contract with the Department of Water & Power.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

CBRE Shares Hit New Heights Despite Climate of Uncertainty

What are investors to do when a high-growth stock hits a new 52-week high even as insiders have started selling off shares? That's the question being posed about CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., whose share price has doubled since coming public a year ago.

Happy Anniversary?

This week marks the five-year anniversary of Tribune Co.'s $6.4 billion purchase of Times Mirror Co. a deal that hasn't worked out as well as expected.

Steamed Over Electricity Regulation Plan

Talk about re-regulation of the utility business. An initiative almost certain to be on the next statewide ballot would ban most businesses from leaving their utility in favor of independent providers and the state's major manufacturers are fuming.

L.A. Stories

A disparate group of faculty, students, union representatives and activists has petitioned Santa Monica College, asking it to "reconsider" having Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speak at the 2005 commencement ceremonies.

Coca-Cola Bottling Workers End Strike

Workers at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Southern California returned to work following a two-week strike after members ratified a five-year contract over the weekend, a union spokeswoman said.

Planning Man

As Con Howe leaves his post as L.A.'s top planning official, he looks back on the flexibility he helped promote and some of the challenges he faced.

Sharing the Load

New stadiums and convention centers are going up across the nation Boston, New York, San Antonio among them thanks to generous taxpayer subsidies.

Business Booming for Forensic Accountants

In the post-Enron era, forensic accountants are increasingly called upon to untangle complex knots of corporate dishonesty.

Angels Only Latest Bruise to OC Psyche

The Angels are not the only thing that is "officially" part of L.A. According to government bureaucrats, Orange County itself is now part of the metropolitan area that also includes Los Angeles County.

ProLogis to Acquire Catellus for $3.6 Billion

ProLogis has agreed to buy rival real-estate investment trust Catellus Development Corp. for $3.6 billion in a cash and stock deal that will create the largest network of warehouses and distribution services.

Public Private

While Dallas, Houston and Chicago have shelled out millions of dollars in public money to help pay for and attract large developments and sports stadiums, L.A. has been able to get private developers to foot most of the bill.

Hotel Rates Remain Grounded at LAX as They Soar in Region

For L.A. visitors looking for a deal, here's a hint stay at an airport hotel. These hotels haven't been soaring despite airport travel rebounding to levels not seen since before 9/11.

Winning Bidder Objects After Contract Gets Held Up

A large telecommunications company that was close to winning a contract for the city of Los Angeles is complaining of interference from a City Council committee.

Washington Mutual to Buy Providian

Washington Mutual Inc. on Monday agreed to buy credit card issuer Providian Financial Corp. for $6.5 billion, expanding its focus on middle-market consumers.

L.A Gas Prices Down 4 Cents

L.A.-area gas prices continued inching away from record levels, dipping nearly 4 cents a gallon last week, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

Game Creator Claims Idea Stolen in New Twist on Old Plot

With original video games becoming a new source of Hollywood movie ideas, game creators are finding they have something in common with script writers: allegations that their ideas for movies have been stolen.

Business Briefs: Teledyne, Northrop, IRIS, Digital Theater Systems, Creative Computer Applications, Maguire

A subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc. agreed to buy Cougar Components Corp. for $26.5 million, S & P; may raise Northrop Grumman Corp.'s debt ratings, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Non-Profit Veteran Takes Up New Role on the Waterfront

As newly appointed CFO of PierPass, formed to manage the off-peak gate hours at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, Thomas Stephenson becomes a key member of the Southern California shipping world.

L.A. vs. Seattle

Ties between the video game and entertainment industries have forced Hollywood and Seattle to work together: Seattle became fertile ground for video game developers, while Hollywood has always been the world's movie capital.

Biltmore Strikes Deal With Union

In another blow to the local hotel coalition, downtown's Millennium Biltmore Hotel will no longer oppose the efforts of a union to line up a contract with cities across the country.

New Frontiers for Content in Phones

Former Columbia executive Herman Rush envisions a universe in which every cellular telephone, personal digital assistant and laptop computer effectively doubles as a television set.

Apple Switches to Intel Chips

Apple Computer Inc. announced plans Monday to switch its Macintosh computers to the same Intel Corp. chips used in systems that run Microsoft Windows.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Burkle's Low Price Offer Fails to Spur Pathmark Bidding War

Billionaire Los Angeles investor Ron Burkle has managed to avoid a bidding war for Pathmark Stores Inc. because the grocery chain's board doesn't want a buyer to come in who will close and sell ailing stores.

Truckers Upset Over Lack of Bonus for Night Duty at Port

Changes to the PierPass program leave no funds to pay truckers incentives to work port duty at night.

Case Study

Sam Atwood, spokesperson for the AQMD, describes the application process required for a small business that uses certain chemicals or equipment that emit air contaminants.

Agency Not Known for Its Good Taste

The Paris Hilton spot promoting Carl's Jr.'s spicy burger is just another example of Mendelsohn Zien's modus operandi: pushing things to the edge, while trying not to fall off.

Company Bloggers Make It Up as They Go

Blogs have gone from the cutting edge to the mainstream in the space of a few months. Before, they were used for self-expression; today, they're marketing tools for corporations and law firms.

Judge Rules Disney Fraud Lawsuit Can Proceed

Delaware Chancery Court judge refuses to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the Walt Disney Co. committed fraud in conducting its search for a new chief executive, saying the case may have merit.

Rooftop Fire Turns Sunset Tower Into Even Hotter Property

CIM Group Inc.'s principals always thought that their Sunset Tower building was going to become red-hot when they were able to convert the high-rise into condominiums. What they didn't have in mind was the roof catching fire.

Living Wage Law Generated More Debate Than Benefits

A study showing that L.A.'s living wage ordinance has raised pay for only 10,000 workers points up how small a dent has been made in the effort to address the needs of low-income earners.

Scientists Tackling Devices to Prevent DVD Bootlegging

Researchers at UCLA are trying to find a way to individualize DVDs in order to prevent them from being shared, swapped or pirated.

Stocks Eke Out Modest Gain

Stocks rose slightly on Monday after a wave of big mergers seemed to offer some comfort for investors and oil prices moved back from a six-week high.

Big Spin

Pentadyne is poised to spin into a period of significant growth thanks to its high-speed flywheel technology, which provides seamless backup power with no interruptions.

Amgen's Presence Puts Local Biotech Sector on Map

The region is a leading force in the biotechnology sector, but owes the distinction to the presence of Thousand Oaks-based Amgen.

Striking It Rich

One of few contractors able to build refineries and other massive projects, Jacobs Engineering benefits from the high price of oil and resulting investments in extraction.

Oil Prices Fall Below $55

Crude oil futures fell nearly $1 a barrel Monday in what appeared to be profit-taking following last week's sharp advance.

Friday, June 3

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Payrolls Grow by Just 78,000 in May

Employers added only 78,000 workers to their payrolls last month, the weakest job growth in 21 months, the government said Friday, fanning worries on Wall Street over a slowing economy.

L-3 to Buy Titan for $2 Billion in Cash

L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. on Friday said it would buy Titan Corp. for about $2 billion in cash, expanding its reach in defense-intelligence services.

Service Sector Activity Expands

Business activity in the services sectors of the economy increased in May, though at a slower rate than in April, the Institute for Supply Management reported Friday.

L.A. Gas Prices Slip for Seventh Week

Despite a record number of drivers making Memorial Day getaways, motorists in L.A. paid less at the pump for the seventh consecutive week, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Business Briefs: Univision, Occidental, Keystone, Ampco, Global ePoint

Univision Communications names Andrew W. Hobson its new CFO, Occidental Petroleum is cleared by the FTC to purchase the chemical assets of Vulcan Materials, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Hotel Rates Remain Grounded at LAX as They Soar in Region

For Los Angeles visitors looking for a deal, here's a hint stay at an airport hotel. The average daily LAX-area room rate inched up just 1.5 percent to $78.27 in the January-March quarter.

Oil Prices Climb Above $54

Crude oil futures rose above $54 a barrel Friday, following a brief cool-down in prices after a U.S. government report showed swelling stockpiles in crude and other fuels.

Slow Job Growth, High Oil Prices Drag Stocks Down

Stocks fell on Friday after a government report showed the slowest job growth in nearly two years, sparking investor worry about the health of the economy, and crude oil prices topped $55 a barrel.

Thursday, June 2

Bush Selects Cox to Head SEC

President Bush on Thursday named Rep. Christopher Cox, a conservative veteran in Congress with wide-ranging policy interests, to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Business Briefs: DreamWorks, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Maguire, Guess, Disney

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. faces its first shareholder lawsuit since going public, Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. delays a potential delisting for now, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Productivity, Jobless Claims Up

Productivity rose at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the first three months of this year, but was accompanied by the biggest weekly increase in jobless claims in 14 months.

Oil Prices Stay Above $54

The price of oil gyrated on Thursday after the U.S. government released data that showed a growing domestic supply of gasoline, but also rising demand.

Hilton to Open Starbucks in Hotels

Hilton Hotels Corp. signed a licensing agreement with Starbucks that will enable selected Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites Hotels to operate Starbucks-licensed stores.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Gemstar-TV Guide, Scientific-Atlanta Settle Litigation

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. signed licensing agreements late Wednesday to grant each access to the other's interactive program guide patents.

Stocks Up Despite Lukewarm Data

Stocks ended higher on Thursday, as merger activity gave the tech sector a lift, offsetting a report about higher labor costs that sparked worries about inflation and further interest-rate hikes.

Update: Former Fleishman-Hillard Executive Doug Dowie Indicted

The former general manager of the PR firm's Los Angeles office is accused of submitting more than $300,000 in fraudulent bills to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Living Wage Causes Few Layoffs But Little Gains in Health Coverage

The city of L.A.'s living wage law has boosted wages for thousands of workers while leading to minimal layoffs by companies subject to the city's ordinance, according to a study released Thursday.

Retail Sales Rise, Teen and Luxury Lead

U.S. retail sales rose modestly in May as discount and some teen-oriented retailers reported growth even as weather in parts of the country slowed spending on seasonal goods.

Sun to Buy StorageTek for $4.1 Billion

Sun Microsystems Inc. said Thursday it agreed to buy Storage Technology Corp. for $4.1 billion in cash, bolstering its presence in the market for data storage.

Wednesday, June 1

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Construction Spending Hits Record

Construction spending rose 0.5 percent in April, as office construction surged and activity in the housing market hit an all-time high, the government reported Wednesday.

Business Briefs: Tracinda, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Northrop, WPT Enterprises

Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. won't raise its offer past $31 for GM common stock, Big 5 Sporting Goods receives another non-compliance notice from the Nasdaq, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Garamendi Calls on Workers' Comp Insurers to Cut Rates

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi on Wednesday called on insurers to reduce their workers' compensation premium rates by 18 percent.

Pending Home Sales Index Hits Record

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes rose to a record in April, suggesting home sales in May and June could hit new highs, said the National Association of Realtors.

Reliance Buys Chapel Steel

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. agreed to acquire closely held Chapel Steel Corp., a processor and distributor of carbon and alloy steel plate products.

Stocks Rise as Inflation Fears Ease

Stocks rose Wednesday after a manufacturing report eased inflation concerns and a Fed official suggested the next interest rate hike could be the last but oil prices jumped, limiting gains.

Chain Store Sales Rise

U.S. chain store sales slowed in the last week of May, as cool weather curbed the sales of seasonal goods, a report said on Wednesday.

Lobbying Starts as Cable Merger Nears

Time Warner's pending role on the local cable scene brings with it commitments of improved service and programming, as well as a formidable political force on the L.A. landscape.

Burkle to Lobby Pathmark Shareholders in Support of Bid

Yucaipa Cos., the L.A.-based investment vehicle of billionaire Ron Burkle, got permission from the board of Pathmark Stores to drum up support for its planned investment in the grocery chain.

Crude Prices Move Above $52 Mark

Crude oil futures climbed Wednesday, as some investors' expectations for the next U.S. inventory data report were already factored into the market.

U.S. Manufacturing Slows From April

U.S. manufacturing activity expanded in May for the 24th consecutive month, but the rate was slower than in April, a private research group said Wednesday.