Stories for December 2006

Friday, December 29

Living Wage Ordinance Challenged

L.A.-area business leaders announced Friday that they were submitting more than 100,000 voter signatures to place a referendum on a citywide ballot intended to overturn a set of ordinances extending the city's living wage law to a dozen hotels near Los An

Pixar Targeted in Options Probe

Pixar is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its stock option awards.

KB Drops New Orleans Project

Amid a slumping national housing market, KB Home is dropping its plans to build about 12,000 homes on 3,000 acres of farmland west of New Orleans.

Reed's Goes Public

Natural soda maker Reed's Inc. said Friday it has received approval to be listed on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board as of today.

Stock Markets to Close for Ford Funeral

The New York Stock Exchange said Friday it will close on Tuesday as part of a national day of mourning to mark the funeral of President Gerald R. Ford. The NYSE joined the Nasdaq Stock Market, which made a similar announcement on Thursday.

State to Study Pension, Health Policies

The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had proposed a partial privatization of the state's public pension funds, set up a commission on Thursday to study how to meet pension and health care obligations.

Thursday, December 28

Boston Hospitals Cuts Use of Amgen Drug

The city of Boston's largest hospital system plans to reduce doses of anemia medicines made by Thousand Oaks-based Amgen Inc. for kidney-disease and chemotherapy patients after a study linked them to heart risks.

Reliance Buys Canadian Company

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said Thursday that it has agreed to acquire Encore Group and all of its assets. Financial terms were not disclosed.

CSC Announces $643 Million in Contracts

Computer Sciences Corp. on Thursday announced that it has been awarded 110 contracts totaling more than $643 million if all contract options were exercised.

United Online Extends DSL Offering

United Online Inc. said it has entered into an agreement with Covad Communications Group Inc. to expand United's NetZero DSL broadband Internet service to Covad's network.

Nov. Home Sales Inch Up, Prices Fall

Sales of existing homes managed to eke out a small increase in November but the price of homes sold fell for a record fourth consecutive month, a real estate trade group reported Thursday.

LAUSD to Sell More Bonds

Los Angeles Unified School District said Thursday that it plans to sell as much as $1.6 billion of tax-exempt bonds in an effort to refinance higher-interest debt.

Wednesday, December 27

ArtistDirect to Restate Earnings

ArtistDirect Inc. said Wednesday that it intends to amend its previously filed consolidated financial statements for the year 2005, as well as for three quarters of 2006.

President Ford Dies at 93

President Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House, has died. He was 93.

Farmers to Cut Homeowner Rates

Farmers Insurance is proposing an average 18 percent rate cut for nearly 1 million California homeowners in response to pressure from Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi.

Woodland Hills, Tarzana Chambers Merge

The Woodland Hills and Tarzana chambers of commerce will join forces in a merger that will take effect Jan. 1.

DirecTV Offered on Cell Phones

Cell phone service provider MobilePro Corp. said Wednesday that a subsidiary will offer DirecTV Group Inc.'s satellite TV service to its customers.

Doctors Seek to Sue Blue Cross

California's largest physician organization on Tuesday asked to join patients in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Blue Cross illegally dumps policyholders after authorizing expensive medical treatment and then refuses to pay the bills.

Superheroes, Sequels Boost Hollywood

The big-screen returns of Captain Jack Sparrow, Superman, Wolverine, James Bond and, yes, Rocky Balboa, all contributed mightily to Hollywood's comeback year at the box office.

99 Cents Gets Extension

99 Cents Only Stores has received an extension from the New York Stock Exchange until April 2 to submit all of its regulatory filing or face delisting, the company announced Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 26

Holiday Sales Disappoint

Retail sales increase, but at a slower rate than last year as discretionary income tightens due to the weakened housing market and higher energy costs.

L.A. Tops Bay Area in Charity

The L.A. area is the No. 1 region of the state when it comes to charitable giving, according to a study by the NewTithing Group.

'Night at the Museum' No. 1 at Box Office

The Ben Stiller movie performs above the studio's expectations. "Pursuit of Happyness" slips to No. 2.

Friday, December 22

L.A. Jobless Rate Hits 30-Year Low

Buoyed by seasonal hiring in the retail sector, L.A. County's jobless rate in November fell to its lowest level in at least 30 years.

Wall St. Sleeper Hits for 2007

Homebuilding, technology and health care did more to hurt portfolios than help this year, but they may well emerge as the sleeper stocks of 2007.

Consumers Boost Holiday Buying

Keeping the nation's cash registers ringing, consumers boosted their spending in November by the largest amount in four months, raising hopes shoppers will act more like Santas than Scrooges during the holidays.

Northrop Gets $5.2M Air Force Deal

The Air Force said that it has awarded a contract worth nearly $5.2 million to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for logistics support.

Mess Lingers as Airport Reopens

Denver's snowed-in airport reopened Friday for the first time in two days, but the backlog of flights around the country could take all weekend to clear.

Stock Swap Deal Confirmed

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will swap its controlling stake in the satellite TV service DirecTV Group Inc. with Liberty Media Corp. in exchange for Liberty's stake in News Corp., the companies announced.

Edison Signs Major Wind Deal

Southern California Edison said it has signed the largest wind energy contract ever for a U.S. utility.

Thursday, December 21

Chandlers Explore Joint Tribune Bid

The Chandlers have separately approached Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad, Ron Burkle and David Geffen as well as at least one private equity firm or group about bidding for all or part of Tribune Co., the Chicago Tribune reported.

Web Recruiting Dips Slightly

Online recruiting activity in L.A. County dipped slightly in November, reflecting a quieting labor market as slowdowns in real estate/construction and defense industries take their toll.

Live Nation Explores Venues Sale

Live Nation Inc. said it has hired CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. to explore the possible sale of the Germain Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio.

National Lampoon Earnings Grow

Thanks to proceeds from a royalty's settlement, National Lampoon Inc. said it saw huge jumps in profit and revenue for the first quarter of 2006.

Mixed Earnings for Electro Rent

Electro Rent Corp. reported second quarter net income of $4.9 million (19 cents per share), a 12.5-percent drop from $5.6 million (22 cents) for the same period a year earlier.

LAUSD Reform Legislation Overturned

Just 10 days before it was to take effect, a state judge on Thursday overturned the law that gave Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more control over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

A Taste of Cuba in California

A long-term consequence of Fidel Castro's policies in the early 1960s is a thriving Cuban- & #233;migr & #233;-owned food processing industry in the Los Angeles area that serves a growing market nationwide for Hispanic foods.

Sony BMG Settles With 39 States

Sony BMG Music Entertainment will pay $4.25 million as part of a settlement with 39 states to resolve investigations into problems caused by music CDs loaded with hidden anti-piracy software, state officials announced.

Bee closes S.F., L.A. Bureaus

The Bee is closing its San Francisco and Los Angeles news bureaus, saying it needs to focus its resources more fully on the Sacramento area.

Arden Makes San Diego Acquisition

Arden Realty said that it has acquired five properties in San Diego from New York-based DRA Advisors LLC for $162 million.

Investment Fund to Buy Van's Foods

Van's International Foods Inc., a Vernon company known for its organic frozen waffles, is being acquired by an investment fund seeking to profit from the growing popularity of natural foods.

DirecTV Extends Phone Deal

DirecTV Group Inc. said Thursday that it is adding an extra year to its deal with AT & T; Inc. to receive toll-free 800 service and voice and data-network technology. The pact is worth $33 million.

Wednesday, December 20

CSC Lands $320 Million in Contracts

Computer Sciences Corp. said Wednesday that it has won six information technology outsourcing and systems integration contracts worth as much as $320 million.

Engineers, Architects Reach Tentative Pact

A tentative settlement was reached Wednesday in the long-running and contentious labor dispute between the Engineers and Architects Association and the city of Los Angeles.

Southland Ports Still Bustling

Import and export traffic at the nation's largest port complex in November continued to far outpace that of a year ago, according to monthly statistics from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Vulcan Volunteers to Limit Pollution

Vulcan, which maintains local operations in Irwindale and Azusa, has joined the California Climate Action Registry, a coalition of businesses and environmental leaders committed to addressing climate change.

Stater Bros. to Offer Earthwise Bags

Earthwise Bag Co. Inc. today announced that Stater Bros. will begin selling the company's reusable shopping bags in all of its 162 full-service supermarkets.

Foreclosure for 1 in 5 Subprime Loans

About one in five subprime mortgages made in the last two years are likely to go into foreclosure, according to a report released yesterday, ending the dream of homeownership for millions of Americans.

On Assignment Buys Staffing Firm

On Assignment Inc. said Wednesday it plans to buy Vista Staffing Solutions, a privately owned physician staffing firm.

Cheesecake Factory Back in Compliance

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. said that it has formally notified the Nasdaq that the company is now in compliance with the exchange's requirements for continued listing on the stock market.

Edison Seeks to Call Off Rate Hike

Southern California Edison is seeking to cut its electrical rates for businesses and put off a scheduled rate increase for residential customers, citing unexpected revenue gains during last summer's heat wave.

Vitesse Reveals More Options Troubles

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. said late Tuesday that an internal review by the company found that former executives manipulated financial information in addition to illegally issuing stock option grants.

Ticketmaster Buys Stake in Music Site

Ticketmaster said Wednesday that it has agreed to buy a 25 percent stake in iLike.com for about $13.3 million.

Tuesday, December 19

Earl Scheib Posts Disappointing Earnings

Earl Scheib Inc. reported second quarter net income of $100,000 (2 cents per share), a 68 percent drop from $315,000 (7 cents) for the same period a year earlier.

ESPN Buys Stake in Arena League

Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN network has bought an equity stake in the Arena Football League and has a new five-year broadcast rights agreement with the league. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Former Playboy Building Sold

The former headquarters of Playboy Enterprises Inc. has been sold to Palo Alto-based Broadreach Capital Partners along with an adjoining shopping center for $100 million.

Sony Settles CD Suit

Sony BMG Music Entertainment said it will pay $1.5 million plus thousands more in refunds to customers to settle lawsuits over hidden software included in its compact discs.

Report: LAX to Buy Radisson

The agency that runs Los Angeles International Airport has begun negotiating in secret to buy a high-rise hotel just outside the airport's main entrance.

Live Nation Makes Big Move into Europe

Live Nation said Tuesday that it has purchased the largest concert promoter in Spain and has also entered into an agreement to buy a majority stake in a leading concert promoter in France. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Frederick's Goes Public

FOH Holdings Inc., the parent company of Frederick's of Hollywood, struck a reverse merger deal Tuesday that allows the lingerie retailer to become a publicly traded company while bypassing a public offering.

New Dispute Over Regan Firing

With Judith Regan's authors still reeling from their publisher's abrupt dismissal, the sparring between the headline-making Ms. Regan and her former employer, the News Corp. grew more intense.

LAX to Increase Fees, Rents at Terminals

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners unanimously approved drastic increases to fees and rents for discount airlines in what the carriers say is the largest increase in the history of the industry.

True Religion Opens Chicago Store

True Religion Apparel Inc. said it signed a lease for a branded store in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Warner Bros. Signs Game Deal

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group said it has signed an agreement to distribute and sell video games beginning in April 2007.

Monday, December 18

Chandlers, Tribune Poised for Showdown

With little outside investor interest in Tribune Co., the Chandler family and management could be near a fight over all or parts of the media company.

The Mountain May Remain Open, but Is the Magic Gone?

Magic Mountain will remain open, but Six Flags Inc. could sell the Valencia site to another operator.

Business Fires Back on Wage Mandate

Momentum is building for a referendum that would overturn a living wage requirement for LAX-area hotels.

Teaching Ethical Decision-Making Is Crucial to Progress

Anthony J. Buzelli writes that ethics education is essential to assure that tomorrow's business leaders know the value of honesty.

Newsmakers/Kudos

Hirings, promotions and honors.

A no-frills Rose Bowl

Renderings released last week show a post-NFL renovation plan for the Rose Bowl that is stripped of the additions and adornments that critics found most objectionable.

More Stock Options Trouble

Nearly 1,400 corporate board members appear to have profited from the manipulation of stock option grant dates over a 10-year period, according to a study being released today.

UPS Too Busy to Notice Retailers' Soft Holiday Sales

UPS claims holiday shipments are up even as big-box retailers report soft sales.

CSC, Northrop Win Missile Contract

Computer Sciences Corp. said Monday that the New Mexico Technology Group has been awarded a $422 million contract to provide mission support services to the White Sands Missile Range.

Animation Legend Joe Barbera Dies

Joseph Barbera, co-founder of the ground-breaking animation house Hanna-Barbera Studios, died Monday at his Studio City home. He was 95 years old.

Drug Treatment Patent Comes at Prime Time for Hythiam

A patent for a cocaine treatment couldn't have come at a better time for certain shareholders.

Keeping an Eye on the Environment in Private Practice

William Wesley Carter views his recent move from the U.S. Attorney's Office to the law firm of Musick Peeler & Garrett LLP as a natural progression.

Comic Library Forms Alliance With Site That Tracks Predators

Platinum Studios has just signed a new content deal.

Drug Data Boosts Abraxis Stock

Shares of Abraxis BioScience Inc. got a good push on Monday after the drug developer presented weekend data that favorably compared its Abraxane cancer drug with a leading competitor in a head-to-head trial.

Liberman Finds Strength in Strategy of Local Programming

Liberman Broadcasting Inc. finds its strength in locally produced programming for the Hispanic market.

Regional Report

Regional news from the Los Angeles County area.

American Apparel Sold for $385 Million

The retail chain headed by controversial co-founder Dov Charney is being acquired by Endeavor Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded investment firm started only last year.

Inflation Station

Vision Experience Inc. makes large inflatable screens designed for projecting movies outdoors and at special events.

Showing Holiday Presents of Mind

Charles Crumpley lists the gifts he'd like to give to the people and institutions of Los Angeles. It would be better if they didn't need them, though.

Whyville Starting to Captivate Young Internet Audience

Whyville.net, the popular "virtual world" designed by Caltech scientists to give children 8 to 15 years of age a safe online spot to interact, play and learn, has caught fire.

Cosmos Couture

While billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson battle to find a way to get people into space affordably, Rick Tumlinson wants to make sure they look good when they get there.

YouBet Share Offering

Youbet.com, Inc. said it will offer 6.2 million shares of its common stock in an offering this week.

Environmentalists Trying to Hijack Funds Meant for Freeways

Funding was approved by Californians who want new roads, but Michael Pattinson says it could be raided by environmentalists for their own causes.

End of the Line

L.A. County manufacturing has undergone a sweeping transformation from assembly line work into niche specialties.

Hotel Remodels Completed With Finishing Touch of Spas

A number of Los Angeles' most prominent hotels have recently completed remodels, and in several cases a spa opening has provided the crowning touch.

Diamond Deal Puts Brighter Shine on Internet Ad Company

Cable ad firm Spot Runner has linked with Diamond Promotional Service as it mounts a national push.

WMG Buys Dutch Metal Label

Warner Music Group Corp. said it agreed to buy a majority stake in Roadrunner Music Group BV for $73.5 million.

Private School Changes Hands in $9 Million Transaction

A 100-year-old Christian school near South Pasadena was sold after being shuttered two years ago.

Good Samaritan to Sell 4-Acre Property

Good Samaritan Hospital hopes to sell a full city block near downtown to a residential developer.

Cingular, MySpace Strike Deal

Cingular Wireless said Monday that it has signed an exclusive agreement with MySpace.com to give Cingular customers access to their MySpace profiles from their mobile phones.

Pacoima Back in Enterprise Zone

Following intense lobbying from local officials and business leaders, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday added the Pacoima/northeast San Fernando Valley area to the Los Angeles Enterprise Zone.

L.A. Home Prices Still Sending Mixed Signals on Market Trend

Sales volume and home prices are sending mixed signals as to whether the market has finished its correction or will continue its decline.

With Its House Back in Order, Korean Bank Looks to Expand

Nara Bancorp Inc. has begun an expansion push under new senior management.

Motor Mouth

L.A. disc jockey Rick Dees reflects on the highlights of his career as he returns to the air after a two-year hiatus.

Trammell Board OKs CBRE Deal

Trammell Crow Co. said Monday that its stockholders have voted to approve the merger agreement with CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.

'Lil' Bush' Makes the Transition From Telephones to Televisions

Comedy Central has picked up new show initially created for broadcast on mobile telephones.

Frederick's Shift From Fantasy to Fashion Pushes Up Sales

Frederick's of Hollywood still displays its signature deep-red corset, but the merchandise inside is far less racy.

Fox Sports Stars Revving Up as Auto Racing Owners

Athletes John Salley, Rodney Peete and Tim Brown were fast in their time, and now have a taste for investing in speedy race cars.

Friday, December 15

Utility Users to Foot Bill For Cleaner Air

Customers of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. would be able to pay more on their monthly bills to fight greenhouse gas emissions under a program described as the first such arrangement by a U.S. utility.

J2 Finds Options Errors, May Restate

J2 Global Communications Inc. said that it uncovered accounting errors on past stock option grants and may need to restate previous earnings.

Obagi Makes Wall Street Debut

Long Beach prescription skin product maker Obagi Medical Products got off to a slow start in its Wall Street debut, with its stock closing lower than the initial public offering Thursday and unchanged on Friday.

Northrop Wins Contract, Ups Buy Back

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it has been awarded a contract from Boeing Co. to upgrade all four of Japan's E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Disney to Get Crafty

Mega Brands Inc. said Friday that it has partnered with Walt Disney Co. to make a line of Disney-branded arts and crafts products featuring Disney Princess, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hannah Montana and Little Einsteins.

Officials Say E. Coli Outbreak Over

Recent E. coli outbreaks have put produce-related illnesses in the media spotlight, and companies that help test and sanitize food are getting investors' attention.

Thursday, December 14

OSI Gets $10 Million in Contracts

OSI Systems Inc. said Thursday that it was awarded multiple contracts totaling $10 million for its Automated Hold Baggage Screening System.

Nation's Aerospace Industry Flying High

The aerospace industry enjoyed record-high sales and profits this year, with a surge in orders for commercial aircraft, engines and parts adding to modest gains in spending on defense and government equipment.

LAX Hotel Breaks Ranks on Living Wage

American Property Management Corp, the new owner of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, rehired 12 fired workers and urged fellow LAX hotels to drop their living wage referendum plan.

State of the Region Report Bleak

The Southern California Association of Governments released its annual State of the Region report Thursday giving the region's economy a "B" grade for its improving employment picture.

Dream Works CFO to Leave

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said Chief Financial Officer Kristina Leslie is leaving the company before February of next year.

Live Nation Makes Board Posts

Live Nation said Thursday that it has elected Harvey Weinstein and R. Ted Enloe to its board of directors.

PS Business Parks Buys Properties

PS Business Parks Inc. said it acquired two assets in Palm Beach County Florida for a combined purchase price of $46.5 million.

Port Suit Settled for $27 Million

Resolving a long-running dispute over a controversial petroleum coke terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, the City Council voted Wednesday to settle a lawsuit with Los Angeles Export Terminal for $27.7 million, the Daily Breeze reports.

Tide Turning for Subway to Sea

The proposed extension of the Purple Line subway to Santa Monica beach is gaining traction because of strong support from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and possible funding from transportation measures Californians approved Nov. 7.

Geffen's Offer for The Times: $2 Billion

Entertainment mogul David Geffen has made a $2-billion all-cash offer for the Los Angeles Times, but the newspaper's corporate owner has declined to accept or reject the bid as it continues to seek offers for the entire company, a source said.

Wednesday, December 13

Ready Pac Loses in E. Coli Scare

In the wake of an ongoing investigation into the source of an E. coli outbreak, Taco Bell has dropped Irwindale-based Ready Pac Produce as its produce supplier and switched to Taylor Farms in Salinas.

Health Net Resumes Stock Buy Back

Health Net Inc. has resumed its share buyback program, purchasing 2.8 million shares and spending more than $123 million during its fourth quarter, the Woodland Hills company announced Wednesday.

Magic Mountain to Remain Park

Magic Mountain in Valencia will remain an amusement park and will not be converted into a housing development or retail complex under a new strategy outlined by owner Six Flags Inc.

Ducommun Lands Boeing Deal

Ducommun Inc. said that it has won an eight-year contract from Boeing Commercial Airplanes to supply spoilers for the 737 family of commercial aircraft.

Chandlers Seek Part of Tribune

The Chandler family, which long owned The Los Angeles Times, has begun holding talks with several private equity firms about forming a consortium to bid on part of the Tribune Company, people briefed on the discussions said yesterday.

Amgen to Buy Back Shares

Amgen Inc. said it will buy back as much as $5 billion in common stock under a new stock repurchase authorization plan the company announced Wednesday.

Perata Unveils Health Plan

Opening the Legislature's debate over health insurance, Senate Democratic leader Don Perata on Tuesday outlined a plan for covering the uninsured by requiring employers and employees to bear a share of the cost.

Chandlers Lining Up Tribune Bid

The Chandler family has started talking with private equity firms in an effort to make a bid for part of the Tribune Co., according to a report in the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 12

Jacobs Lands Three Deals

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said Tuesday that it has received two new contracts and an extension on an existing contract. No financial terms were released for any of the contracts.

Northrop to Bid on New Navy Ship

Northrop Grumman Corp. said Tuesday that it has teamed with Aluminum Chambered Boats Inc. to bid for an anticipated U.S. Navy contract to construct a boat to be used for fighting in rivers and coastal areas.

Real Estate: How Bad Will 2007 Be?

Americans are increasingly nervous about the real estate market in 2007 -- and they have good reason to be.

Countrywide Lending Lags in November

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Tuesday that mortgage loan funding fell 11 percent for November to $38 billion as the housing market continued to weaken.

National Lampoon Executive Resigns

National Lampoon Inc. said Tuesday that its interim Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Gonzalez, will resign.

Sony Has Record Year at Box Office

Sony Pictures Entertainment said Tuesday that for the first time in the history of the studio, its annual worldwide box office take exceeded $3 billion.

Sony Rules the World

Despite losing the multiplex battle over the weekend with "The Holiday" finishing just behind Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto," Sony Pictures Entertainment is unquestionably winning the 2006 box-office war.

MySpace Beats Yahoo for First Time

The online hangout MySpace got even more popular in November, beating Yahoo in Web traffic for the first time, a research company said Tuesday.

Monday, December 11

They're Banking On Your Banking Online

Intuit Inc.'s $1.35 billion purchase of Digital Insight of Calabasas could be a good deal if consumers warm up to online banking.

Parties Set for Battle Over Reform of Program

Democrats and Republicans will be facing off in Congress next year over reform of the SBA.

Sterling Says He'll Push Ahead With Homeless Project

Donald Sterling will move ahead with plans for a homeless services center in Skid Row.

Sporting Life

Anita DeFrantz started out as an Olympic rower. Now she's serving on the International Olympic Committee, which could decide if the Games return to L.A.

Good Samaritan Takes a New Path for Homeless Patients

One downtown Los Angeles hospital has reached out to a homeless services provider outside the downtown core.

On Assignment CFO Resigns

On Assignment, Inc. said Monday that its Chief Financial Officer, Michael Holtzman, resigned from his position on Dec.8 due to medical reasons.

From Tokyo to Torrance

A survey shows that Torrance is home to at least 246 Japanese-affiliated companies, more than any other local city.

Cubicle Quest

Strategic Facilities Group provides software that allows companies to map their offices, both for design purposes and emergency preparedness.

Aggressive Lenders Redrawing SBA Turf

Once the province of small firms that needed $250,000 or so to purchase equipment, SBA loans now are for smaller and larger sums and for a wider variety of uses.

Will Traffic Stall Sweeping Development Plans for Universal City?

Traffic could be the downfall of the master plan for a big build-out on Universal City land.

Hear the One About the Crowded Club?

The Laugh Factory's call to halt use of the N-word has helped the business bounce back after the Michael Richards debacle.

Acting Out

Angela Bertolini learned from painful experience and launched Hollywood OS, a casting assistance service.

Companies Contracting With County Forced to Hike Pay

Vendors and contractors that do business with Los Angeles County will have to pay more in wages as early as next month after the Board of Supervisors approved a hike in the county's living wage last week.

Northrop Expands With London Bridge

Northrop Grumman Corp. opened a European subsidiary last week to capture homeland security work there.

Duo's Resuscitation Of Historic Tavern Received Key Boost

The former Redwood Saloon served John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and most of the L.A. Times news staff in its heyday. The only problem was the Redwood had been shuttered for over a year.

Tolerance in Large Doses

Charles Crumpley looks at Torrance's welcome of the Japanese and sees evidence that the United States is a more tolerant place than many other countries including Japan.

Microsoft Plays Hardball With Alleged Software Pirates

Microsoft has launched lawsuits across the nation accusing 30 companies of various copyright and trademark infringements and distributing counterfeit and pirated software.

Los Angeles Still SBA Poster Child

The Los Angeles district office of the SBA has long been the nation's leader in the dollar volume of loans.

Antitrust Concerns Could Slow Media News' Bid for L.A. Times

William Dean Singleton's Media-News Group owns eight newspapers that ring downtown Los Angeles, and with reports of the company talking to Tribune Co. owner of the Los Angeles Times about purchasing assets, the group could buy the center of the doughn

Making Sense

U.S. Small Business Administration loans are federal guaranteed if the borrower fails to repay, making the loans attractive for lenders. However, in order to qualify, borrowers must first be turned down for a commercial loan.

Insurance Commissioner Must Balance Conflicting Interests

As Steve Poizner takes the helm of the Insurance Commission he'll find that he'll have to balance fairness toward consumers against the demands of the industry, writes Douglas Heller.

Newsmakers/Kudos

Hirings, promotions and honors.

Price Hits Record $18 Million for Westwood Penthouse

Price tags are on the rise for the primo condos in Fifield Cos.' and Raleigh Enterprises Inc.'s forthcoming 1200 Club View tower in Westwood.

D-Box Chair Can Bring Action To the Seat of Audience's Pants

D-Box Technologies Inc.'s chairs, couches and loveseats are equipped to literally move DVD viewers.

Profiles of Lenders Specializing in Small-Business Finance

Profiles of lenders that offer SBA loans.

Occidental's Departure From Peru Barely Dents Its Stock

Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s decision to pull out of Peru won't hurt the company much.

Printer Develops New Perspective On Loan Process

Business people discuss their experiences in obtaining SBA financing.

Northrop Wins 4 Contracts

Northrop Grumman Corp. won four contracts, one with the U.S. Army, NATO and the two with the U.S. Air Force, worth nearly $500 million combined.

Eagle Rock Entrepreneur Put His Heart and Soul Into Eatery

When Larkin Mackey quit his job as a medical research assistant to open his own soul food restaurant, friends told him the same urban legend his father and grandfather had heard growing up in Bakersfield.

Will New Ownership Help Get L.A. Times Back on Right Track?

New owners of the L.A. Times might not be any more inclined to invest in the newspaper and improve it than the Tribune Co. is, according to Bryce Nelson.

Regional Report

Regional news from the Los Angeles County area.

Drag, But No Recession in '07

A slowing California economy, but no recession in 2007.

High Court to Rule on Validity of Non-Compete Clauses

California employers and labor advocates will be watching closely when the state Supreme Court takes up the issue of non-compete agreements and their validity next year.

Queen Seeks New Neighbors

Just weeks after the city reached a tentative deal with Queen Mary operators to settle a rental dispute, the City Council on Tuesday will begin talks on how to develop the acres of land surrounding the ship.

SBA Enabled 'Bulldog' to Hang Onto Ownership Stake in Boutique Gym

Business people discuss their experiences in obtaining SBA financing.

Outbreaks Reveal Food Safety Net Holes

Over the past three months, fresh produce has been the culprit in one episode of food-borne illness after another, the latest an E. coli outbreak that appears to be linked to green onions served at Taco Bell restaurants in the Northeast.

TeleFutura's Numbers for November Come in Surprisingly Strong

A surprise strong finisher in November sweeps was TeleFutura.

Calabasas Calling

Calabasas magazine has a circulation of 70,000, even though Calabasas' population is just 20,000. The reason: The magazine is not just for Calabasas.

Friday, December 8

Time Warner Sues DirecTV over NFL Ads

A subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.'s cable division sued DirecTV Group Inc. Thursday, claiming the El Segundo-based satellite TV provider engaged in false advertising about the NFL Network.

Head of Stem Cell Facility to Step Down

The president and top scientist at California's the $3 billion stem cell institute said late Thursday that he will retire within the next six months.

EU to Probe Universal-BMG Music Deal

EU regulators on Friday opened an antitrust probe of Universal Music Group's plans to buy BMG Music Publishing for about $2.1 billion, saying the deal could damage "the already concentrated music publishing market."

Oxnard Farm Linked to E. Coli Cases

Green onions suspected of sickening Taco Bell customers in six states have been traced to one of Ventura County's largest vegetable growers, but authorities said Thursday it was too early to blame anyone for the outbreak.

Hearst to Purchase Daily Breeze

The Copley Press Inc. plans to sell the Daily Breeze to Hearst Corp., which would in turn allow MediaNews to operate the newspaper, according to a court filing.

American Reprographics Buys Small Firm

American Reprographics Co. said Friday that it has acquired privately-held Elite Reprographics. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Virco Shares Soar on 3Q Earnings

Virco Manufacturing Corp. continued the positive trend of the first two quarters of the year by reporting solid third quarter earning, sending its stock up more than 34 percent.

Cheesecake Comes Clean on Filing

Cheesecake Factory Inc. said Friday that it has reported and corrected all of the errors found in previous financial statements after its investigation into its stock-options granting practices has been completed.

Thursday, December 7

Report: Slower Growth, No Recession

Slower growth, but no recession for 2007, says the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast that blames a weakening housing market for a slower economy but also added that it should not be enough to prompt a recession.

Occidental Pulls Out of Peru

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Wednesday that it will pull out of Peru after its efforts to discover more oil reserves in the Amazon jungle were met with environmental protests.

Murdoch, Malone Strike Stock Deal

A stock swap deal between media moguls Rupert Murdoch and John Malone has been reached, giving Malone's LibertyMedia Corp. ownership of DirecTV Group Inc.

WNBA Sparks to be Sold

The NBA Board of Governors said Thursday that it unanimously approved the $10 million sale of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. The deal is expected to be announced Thursday afternoon.

American Monster Trucks In Paris

With a deafening roar, four garishly painted pickup trucks on massive wheels take off, tearing around a dirt track and marking the start of the first-ever Monster Jam truck show in Paris, the City of Light.

CSC Lands NASA Contract

Computer Sciences Corp. said Thursday it has won a contract to provide engineering services to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility through a five-year extension on a signed in 2001. The contract is worth about $44 million.

Mannkind Shares Jump on Stock Offering

Shares of MannKind Corp. jumped Thursday as the Valencia-based developer of diabetes and cancer therapies said it plans a public sale of 20 million common shares in a new offering priced at $17.42 apiece.

News Corp./DirecTV Stock Swap Done

Rupert Murdoch and John C. Malone, who have wrangled for two years over Mr. Malone's challenge to Mr. Murdoch's control of the News Corporation, have made peace.

Scallions in E. Coli Case From Calif.

The scallions suspected in the E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell came from a Southern California grower, an official with the company that washed, chopped and packed them for the restaurant chain said Thursday.

Northrop Lands IT Contract With DOJ

Northrop Grumman Corp. won a contract to upgrade the information technology management and operations systems for the Department of Justice.

Wednesday, December 6

Reliance Acquires Atlanta Steel Company

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. has agreed to acquire Industrial Metals and Surplus Inc., in another of a series of acquisitions the Los Angeles company has made nationwide.

REIT Sells Nursing Homes

Health Care Property Investors Inc. said Tuesday that it has sold 78 skilled-nursing facilities for about $444 million.

Crafting the Cars of the Future

Honda designers wanted a vibrant, bustling backdrop for their new studio, which they found in Old Pasadena.

Vacancy Rates are Lowest in 15 Years

Southern California's office and industrial markets showed improvement this year, with office vacancy rates in L.A. County falling below 10 percent for the first time in more than 15 years.

State Pushes for Workers' Comp Tweaks

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is preparing to punish insurance companies that wrongly delay or deny medical care for workers hurt on the job.

Consumer Confidence, Recruitment Up

Two economic surveys released Wednesday show there's plenty of holiday cheer to go around.

No Bid to Come for Euro Disney

Center-Tainment AG, the Swiss company that sought a hostile takeover of Euro Disney SCA, missed a deadline to register the offer with France's stock market regulator, losing the opportunity to pursue Disney for six months, the French government said Wedne

Korn/Ferry Shares Dip on Strong Earnings

Korn/Ferry International reported growth in profit and revenues in its fiscal second quarter but its stock dipped nearly 7 percent after falling short of analysts' expectations.

Facelift Proposed for Universal City

NBC Universal Inc. is proposing a major expansion and upgrade of its Universal City property.

Tuesday, December 5

Northrop Opens British Outpost

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it has created a United Kingdom-based operation that will spearhead of the company's activities in the UK defense, security, civil government and commercial sectors, the company said Tuesday.

Disney Buys European Sports Network

Walt Disney Co. made a move Tuesday to expand its ESPN coverage in Europe by agreeing to buy London-based cable channel NASN Ltd.

Kroger Reports Strong Earnings

Kroger Co., parent of the Ralphs grocery chain, posted a solid third quarter Tuesday sending its stock rising in early trading.

Countrywide Reaches Deal with Spitzer

Countrywide Financial Corp. will pay back minority borrowers who were unfairly overcharged as part of an agreement announced Tuesday with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Hythiam Treatment to Be Tested in Texas

Hythiam Inc. said that the state of Texas will begin testing its Prometa treatment, designed to treat alcohol, methamphetamine and cocaine dependency, for use as a possible alternative to current probation, corrections and re-entry programs.

Jacobs Gets Water Contract

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said that it received a construction management contract worth $180 million for the Nacimiento Water Project from the San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

Guess? Redeems Notes

Guess? Inc. said it will redeem all of its outstanding, 6.75 percent secured notes due in 2012 on Dec. 20. The transaction is worth about $33 million including principal, accrued and unpaid interest and a redemption premium.

Living Wage for Contractors Raised

Los Angeles County has raised its living wage for contractors for the first time in seven years.

Monday, December 4

Newsmakers/Kudos

Hirings, promotions and honors.

Forever 21 Takes On New Breed of Rivals With Heritage 1981

Forever 21 Inc. is trying to answer the L.A. County inroads made by its "fast fashion" rival H & M; with a more-focused Heritage 1981 line.

High-End Dry

Increasingly posh facilities, mostly in Malibu, raise the question of whether luxury is eclipsing treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

Ronnie Lippin, Agent to Rock Stars, Dies

Ronnie F. Lippin, president of Los Angeles-based Lippin Group, an entertainment, marketing and public relations firm, died Monday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center from a rare form of breast cancer. She was 59.

Independence Proves Panacea For HealthNet

HealthNet Inc. has taken several measures, including a stock buyback, to retain its independence after mergers that swallowed other major insurers in L.A.

Maverick Developer Building Reputation

When Sonny Astani said he was holding off on building a condo tower downtown, it was seen by some as an admission of his miscalculation. But others see it as an example of Astani's frank nature.

Consumers Remain Wary of Internet Gift Return Process

Online sales for holiday season expected to reach $27 billion.

NFL Agreement Means Fiki Guys Get a Bigger Kick

Fiki Sports is in growth mode thanks to NFL licensing for its flick-it tabletop football game.

India Link

Cadforce Inc. has used 'blendshoring' to combine foreign labor and American expertise for blueprint production.

State Gets Stuck on Loan Limits

It happens every time this year. California gets snubbed. Lumped in with some other states where a typical house doesn't cost more than a half a million bucks. (California's median price in October was $548,680).

Efforts to Address Patient Dumping Problem Move Forward

James Lott of the Hospital Association of Southern California was surprised by the city's lawsuit over "homeless dumping" because of efforts to improve discharge procedures.

Nightmare on Logistics Street

A local film company endured some headaches when it employed a unique distribution scheme for the "8 Films to Die For" horror movies.

Rodeo Drive Tries Putting On Less Ritz

Cash registers are ringing up sales at a record pace on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive as the merchants strip away some of the snootiness of the past and get a little hipper.

Plymouth Health Purchasing Troubled San Diego Hospital

A new company formed by two San Fernando Valley doctors has agreed to take Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s troubled Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego off its hands.

Comprende Your Market

A study suggests that successful marketing to Latino audiences means moving away from conventional presumptions.

PR Expert Says Lawyers Can Advertise Without Complexes

PR expert Carl Terzian is convinced that lawyers needn't compromise their integrity if they choose to advertise.

Wal-Mart Discounts Put Other Retailers on Defensive

It's the holiday season, and while consumers are worrying about what to get finicky aunt Margaret, retailers are worrying about Wal-Mart.

FSN Prime Ticket Scores Touchdown With Prep Football

FSN Prime Ticket will provide coverage of the state championship games.

ValueClick Buys Shopping.net

ValueClick Inc. has purchased online comparison shopping site Shopping.net for about $13.3 million in an effort to diversify its operations and expand its geographic presence, the Westlake Village company said Tuesday.

Wilshire Skyline Achieves Nirvana With Apartment Purchase

The Nirvana, a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument that opened two years before the Chinese Theatre, has sold for $5.9 million.

Disney to Cut 160 Jobs in Burbank

Walt Disney Co. said late Friday that it plans to cut 20 percent of the 800 jobs at its animation studios starting before the end of the year.

Dumping Dilemma

Charles Crumpley thinks that litigating over "dumping" of homeless people is going to make things worse.

Quieter Time

Shereen Arazm, Hollywood's only female nightclub owner, is shifting gears by opening restaurants that will offer a more intimate atmosphere.

Countrywide Financial Driving Into Four More States

Countrywide Financial Corp. is expanding its nascent auto insurance line into four more states in an effort to diversify its business.

All Mall

Rick Caruso has placed his stamp on the region's retail scene with outdoor malls, including the Grove. He's got projects under way in Glendale and Arcadia.

$1 Billion Deal May Result in Job Cuts

A $1.06 billion joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. finalized Friday to supply the U.S. government with launch services for rockets could result in layoffs, the companies said.

Nielsen Turns to Rev. Jackson to Solve Ratings Ruckus

Minority viewers feel they aren't getting thier due with Local People Meters.

Universal Intake Form Would Help Patients Get Needed Services

A universal intake form would coordinate the hand-off of the homeless from hospitals to support agencies, according to Orlando Ward of the Midnight Mission.

Friday, December 1

State Manufacturing Shrinks

U.S. factory activity shrank in November for the first time in 3-1/2 years as new orders, production and employment fell and prices paid rose, according to a survey published on Friday.

Kerkorian Sells Full Stake in GM

General Motors Corp.'s painful process of reinventing itself apparently will proceed without Kirk Kerkorian, whose ownership of almost 10 percent of the world's largest automaker failed to leverage the changes he sought.

Warner Music Posts 4Q Profit

Warner Music Group Corp. said Friday it swung to a profit in the fourth-quarter, bolstered by a hefty settlement benefit. But its results fell short of Wall Street's expectations, and its shares fell more than 2 percent.