Stories for September 2006

Saturday, September 30

Cecilia Wilkinson, Investor Relations Expert, Dies at 57

Cecilia A. Wilkinson, who worked with some of Southern California's leading companies in investor relations and corporate communications, has died.

Friday, September 29

Senate OKs C-17 Funding

The U.S. Senate on Friday approved $4.4 billion in funding for 22 C-17 military transport aircraft

Aspen Sold to CRC

Aspen Education Group, a Cerritos-based provider of programs for troubled teens, has been acquired by CRC Health Group, an organization specializing in detoxification.

Amgen Makes Acquisition

Amgen Inc. said Friday that it plans to buy Avidia, a small privately held biotech drug developer in Northern California, in a $290 million deal.

Mergers Slow in August

Local mergers and acquisitions remained in summer doldrums in August, with only 67 deals worth an estimated $4.4 billion.

Thursday, September 28

Lawmakers Grill HP on Spying

The saga of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s spying scandal -- which has toppled the company's chairwoman, two other directors and at least two high-ranking executives -- deepened in intrigue Thursday as lawmakers exploring the imbroglio summoned comparisons to Wate

Abraxis Files for European Approval

Los Angeles-based biotech company Abraxis BioScience Inc. reports that the European Medicines Agency has accepted for review the company's application to market its Abraxane drug for the treatment of breast cancer.

Warner Bros. To Shutter On-line Division

Warner Bros. is closing what was one of the first studio-backed ventures to create original entertainment content for the Web, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Capitol Records Tower Sold

The Capitol Records Tower, one of Hollywood's most enduring landmarks, has been sold, but it also will retain its original use as an office building.

Audit Criticizes CRA

A follow-up audit by City Controller Laura Chick cited the Community Redevelopment Agency for being slow to implement loan program reforms for developers and affordable housing projects, Chick's office announced on Thursday.

Kerkorian May Increase Stake in G.M.

The largest shareholder in General Motors said today that he may buy up to 12 million more shares in the company, and he urged its board to conduct a "strong" review of his proposal for a global alliance with two rival automakers, Nissan and Renault, afte

Countrywide Sues Group for Fraud

Countrywide Financial Corp. has sued organizers of an investment group that allegedly duped people into taking out mortgage loans, the Wall Street Journal reports.

ESPN Pulls Plug on Cellular Network

ESPN has decided to pull the plug on its much-hyped Mobile ESPN cellular phone service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

CSC Lands U.K. Health Pact

Computer Sciences Corp. said Thursday that it has taken over a $3.7 billion contract with the United Kingdom's National Health Service from Bermuda-based Accenture Ltd. after that company forecast losses from the work.

Slowdown on the Way, Forecast Says

Led by a real estate slowdown, the California economy will continue to slow into 2007 but avoid an outright recession, according to the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast to be released Thursday morning.

Wednesday, September 27

Amgen's Colon Cancer Treatment Gets OK

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday cleared Amgen Inc.'s Vectibix as a treatment for advanced colon cancer.

Warner Music After EMI Again

Warner Music Group Corp. is preparing a new bid to buy the world's third largest music company, EMI Group Plc, the British newspaper The Times reported.

Gov. Leads Boeing in Celebration

As Congress neared approval of a massive Pentagon budget that includes triple the number of C-17s than originally thought, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday led Boeing Co. workers in a rally to celebrate.

Baltimore Sun Presses Tribune CEO

Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of the embattled Tribune Co. media giant, met employees of the Baltimore Sun yesterday and faced some tough questioning.

City, Developer Reach Deal on W Hotel

A deal has been reached between a group of local officials and Hollywood business owner Robert Blue to incorporate his Bernard's Luggage Co. store into the planned Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street development that will feature a W Hotel.

Health Care Costs Rise Outpace Inflation

The cost of living keeps going up, but the cost of healthy living is going up even faster, the New York Times reports.

Aug. Home Gains Seen As Temporary

Sales of new homes, after falling for three months, rose in August. But the gain was expected to be temporary as the battered housing industry struggles with a near-record level of unsold homes.

Lion's Gate, After Dark form Pact

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. said Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement with After Dark Films to produce and distribute movies together for the next three years.

Univision Board Approves Sale

Univision Communications Inc. said its shareholders have approved its acquisition by an investor group that includes Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Saban Capital Group.

MySpace #2 in Video Viewing, Study Says

MySpace is the second-most popular Web site for downloading or streaming video content, a study released Wednesday said.

Tuesday, September 26

Intel, DirecTV Team up for 'Missing Link'

Intel Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc. said Tuesday that they will collaborate to build a digital set-top box that can connect televisions to personal computers.

Reliance Ups 3Q Estimates

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said on Tuesday that it is raising estimates for the third quarter ending September 30.

Health-Care Premiums Rise 7.7%

The health-care premiums of employers and their workers have climbed twice as fast as wages and inflation in 2006 -- to nearly double their cost in 2000 -- and look to rise at a similar clip next year, two nationwide surveys show.

Alexandria Real Estate Offers More Stock

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. said late Monday that it will sell 2.5 million common shares in a follow-on public offering.

Tribune Empire Could Crumble

Imagine buying the most expensive house on a good-looking block that appears to be on the upswing. Within three years, the neighborhood craters, your oldest kid starts backtalking and your spouse pesters you to sell the house and get out. Meanwhile, you'r

AEG Names Head of L.A. Live

AEG, owner and operator of the Staples Center, said it has appointed Lisa Herzlich to manage its L.A. Live sports and entertainment district project across the street from Staples Center.

Southwest Water Gets OK for Rate Hike

Southwest Water Co. said Tuesday that the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a multi-year rate increases for the company's southern California service region.

CPK Opens First Japanese Restaurant

California Pizza Kitchen Inc. opened its first location in Japan, the company said Tuesday.

Hopeful Glimmers in the Housing Slump

If you're a homeowner, the recent movement of home prices is as sickening to watch as a mountaineer falling off a cliff, BusinessWeek reports.

Gov: Ports `Shortchanged' on Security

The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will receive more than $12 million in federal grants to protect against land and sea attacks during the coming year, about half the amount received for similar purposes last year.

Monday, September 25

Newsmakers

Who's who in L.A. business this week.

Taking a Village

Kent Thiry, chief executive of DaVita Inc., has been using teambuilding and training to improve the dialysis service company.

Northrop Undeterred

Northrop Grumman Corp. missed out on more than $16 billion worth of government contracts in two weeks.

Office Building Is A Hollywood Hit

Ground is about to be broken for the first office building in Hollywood in years.

Hansen Expands Stock Buyback Program

Hansen Natural Corp. said Monday that its board of directors has voted to increase its existing $50 million stock repurchase program to $75 million.

Guidance Software, in Growth Sector, Preparing Its IPO

Pasadena-based Guidance Software Inc., which makes software used for digital forensics and investigations, is going public

L.A. City Attorney Urges Council to Axe Business Tax

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo last week became the first citywide elected official to call for the complete elimination of the city's business tax.

Limbo's Not So Bad for Satellite Broadcaster DirecTV

DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite broadcaster, finds itself planted firmly in the middle of a battle between two media moguls.

Heart of Los Angeles Soccer League Gets an Assist From Fox Sports en Espanol

Now that the Heart of Los Angeles has support from Fox Sports en Espanol, kids in the organization's soccer league will have the clothing and equipment they need.

'Black Dahlia' Isn't Exactly Putting L.A. on Tourist Maps

Los Angeles has served as backdrop for hundreds of movies, but few films make a star of the city like "The Black Dahlia" does.

OSI Gets $3.5 Million Contract

OSI Systems Inc. said Monday that its Rapiscan Systems subsidiary has received a $3.5 million order for baggage and parcel inspection X-ray systems.

The UCLA Way

The UCLA Facial Aesthetic Center allows university doctors the opportunity to build thriving private practices.

Dawn of a New Ray

Venice is on its way to getting its first upscale hotel, a boutique establishment with a rooftop pool in the heart of the Abbot Kinney shopping district.

You've Got To Have Faith

Charles Crumpley is surprised it took Hollywood so long to realize that films with religious themes will result in big box office.

Beverly Hills May Hop on the Butt-Out Bandwagon

Once home to famous cigarette lovers like Humphrey Bogart, Beverly Hills may prohibit smoking on restaurant patios and other outdoor places.

Helping Image-Conscious Firms Cut Through the Latest Blog Fog

The days of focus groups and expensive research projects are gone. They've been replaced by blogs and other Internet tools.

Producer Sues Former President Clinton

Hollywood producer and co-founder of Stan Lee Media, Peter F. Paul, has filed suit against former President Bill Clinton, accusing Clinton of cheating him out of a multimillion-dollar Internet venture, the Washington Times reports.

Honda to Pitch Diesel to Americans

Honda Motor Co. is betting a newly developed engine will win over American consumers to diesel-powered vehicles.

Size Made All the Difference For Hilton Honcho Bollenbach

The Chief Executive and Co-Chairman of the Beverly Hills-based Hilton Hotels Corp. said that size and the clout that comes with it are essentials for success in the hospitality business

Existing Home Sales Fall for 5th Month

Sales of existing homes fell for the fifth consecutive month in August as the once-booming housing market slowed further.

Portable People Meters Finding Greater Number of Football Fans

Two weeks into the 2006 NFL season, there are more games on than ever before and they are more popular than ever before.

Regional Report

Business news from around L.A. County.

Cigna Puts L.A. Medical Costs Under the Microscrope

Cigna Corp. is hoping that by providing its 170,000 Los Angeles area members the information needed to do real comparison shopping, it will lower costs for patients and attract additional workers.

Lions Gate Missive to Image Shareholders a Tough Love Letter

Executives at Image Entertainment and its big shareholder, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., have exchanged angry letters over the latter

Younan Buys $280 Million Portfolio in Dallas and Chicago

Younan Properties Inc., a national office properties investment group, has completed its exodus from the California market that has been three years in the making.

Cheaper Gas Helping Put Zing Back in Guitar Center Strings

Guitar Center Inc.

Gas Crunch Has Wheels Coming Off at Superior

The downturn in the car industry has hit Superior Industries Inc. In its third round of cuts this year, the Van Nuys wheel maker is closing a plant in Tennessee.

Attorney Lives Lennon's 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?'

The recently released documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" is rekindling interest in the events surrounding the late Beatle's bid to gain U.S. citizenship in the early 1970s.

Nasdaq Delisting Latest Headache For Global ePoint

The problems of Global ePoint Inc., a City of Industry-based maker of aviation and surveillance equipment, culminated with its delisting from the Nasdaq.

Set Abstractions Aside, Focus on the Real Issues in Immigration

Brian Doherty writes about how raids on chicken processing plants can devastate the economies of small towns with large populations of undocumented workers.

Arched Rivals

Valerie Sarnelle and Anastasia Soare are competitors in the world of elite eyebrow shaping.

The Ship Has Come In on Laws Regulating Water Pollution

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week signed two bills by state Sen. Joseph Simitian, D-Palo Alto, to clamp down on water pollution.

Palm Piloting

Mike Kirban was in Brazil visiting the home of a friend when they started talking about a favorite local liquid coconut water. The result was Vita Coco, a sports beverage.

Options Return to Haunt Executives in Backdating Scandal

Linnea McCord details the back-and-forth over expensing options that led to the current backdating investigations.

Friday, September 22

IndyMac Signs New Deal With CEO

IndyMac Bancorp Inc. said Friday that it has signed a five-year contract, including options for five more years, with current Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Perry.

Schwarzenegger Vetoes 'Job Killers'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Firday that he has vetoed two bills business groups had labeled as "job killers."

ISO Gains Power to Prevent Blackouts

Federal officials Thursday approved new rules for California's electricity-transmission grid that can be summarized this way: No more 11th-hour scrambling for power.

Ameron Stock Dips, Despite Solid Q3

Ameron International Corp. reported third quarter net income of $18.7 million ($2.02 per share), a 72 percent jump from $5.7 million ($1.58) for the same period a year earlier.

Superior Finalizes Sale

Superior Industries International Inc. said Friday that it has completed the sale of its suspension components business to French manufacturer Saint Jean Industries.

Thursday, September 21

Gemstar Moves Into Italy

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. said it has signed a deal with Italian media company TI Media Broadcasting to supply analogue and digital bandwidth to provide Gemstar interactive program guides in the Italian market.

Producer Makes Record Contribution

Movie producer Stephen L. Bing is believed to have set a new California campaign contribution record with Thursday's announcement that he has donated an "unprecedented" $40 million to Proposition 87, the oil tax initiative on the November ballot.

Inglewood ER to Close

Investor-owned Centinela Freeman Health System is taking heat from community activists over its decision to close the emergency room at one of its Inglewood hospitals in an effort to make both facilities more profitable.

Games on a Plane

Electronic Arts Inc. said it has formed a partnership with Montreal-based DTI Software to provide video games for use on airlines.

Hilton Gets Two Irish Hotels

A day after selling five Canadian hotels, Hilton Hotels Corp said on Thursday that it will begin managing two hotels in Ireland.

Edison Lauded for Diversity

Southern California Edison has been recognized by two national Hispanic-focused magazines as one of the best employment opportunities in the United States for Hispanics.

Blue Cross Fined

California Department of Managed Health Care on Thursday said it had assessed a $200,000 fine against Blue Cross of California for inappropriately canceling coverage for enrollees.

Feinstein Nets C-17 Funding

In what could be a reprieve for 5,500 workers at Boeing Co.'s Long Beach C-17 plant, funding for seven additional C-17 military transport planes has been included in the latest defense appropriations bill, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein announced Thursday.

Wednesday, September 20

Northrop Loses Bid, May Layoff Workers

Northrop Grumman Corp. failed to land another billion dollar contract Wednesday, and may have to lay off workers in New York.

California Sues Automakers for Global Warming

The state of California has filed suit against General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and four other automakers for making vehicles that contribute to global warming, Bloomberg News reports.

California Pools Named #1 Builder

California Pools, a West Covina-based company, was ranked the number one pool builder in the West by the trade publication Pool & Spa News, the company said Wednesday.

Nine Spinach Fields in Spotlight

California's vegetable industry began the daunting work of regaining consumer trust, even as government investigators focused on nine Salinas Valley spinach farms in their search for E. coli bacteria.

MGA to Acquire Times Site

A deal has been struck to sell the Los Angeles Times' Chatsworth facility to MGA Entertainment, the makers of Bratz dolls.

Countrywide May Cut Jobs by 10%

Staff reductions announced by Countrywide Financial Corp. this week will not affect its sales force or 4,000 to 5,000 employees overseas, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Internet Ad Spending Down

Internet advertisers are cutting back on spending in the first two weeks of September, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Sylmar Company bought By PPG

Sylmar-based aerospace glass maker Sierracin Corp. has been acquired by PPG Industries.

Hilton Sells Canadian Properties

Hilton Hotels Corp. announced Wednesday that it has sold five of its Canadian hotels to Westmont Hospitality Group for about $204 million.

California Sues Over Global Warming

The state of California has filed suit against General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and four other automakers for making vehicles that contribute to global warming, Bloomberg News reports.

Fed Leaves Interest Rate at 5.25 Percent

The Federal Reserve left a key interest rate unchanged on Wednesday as falling energy prices helped to restrain inflation pressures.

Tuesday, September 19

OSI Systems Wins Contract

Hawthorne-based X-ray inspection equipment maker OSI Systems Inc. said on Tuesday that one its divisions received a $9.1 million contract from an undisclosed government agency for its line of machines used for airport screening and cargo inspections.

Amgen Gains Key Patent License

Amgen Inc. said late Tuesday that it has received licensing rights to a patent important both to ImClone Inc.'s cancer drug Erbitux and a competing Amgen drug that could gain U.S. regulatory approval next week.

Health Net Names Controller

Woodland Hills-based managed care provider Health Net Inc. said Tuesday it has named Bret A. Morris as senior vice president and controller, corporate finance, effective Oct. 9.

Gauge of Inflation Falls in August

A widely watched gauge of inflation fell again in August, providing fresh evidence that prices, which have climbed steadily for most of the year, may now be settling down.

Workers' Comp Bills Vetoed

California employers breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills that threatened to increase workers' compensation costs.

HP, DirecTV Continue Outsourcing Deal

Hewlett-Packard Co. said late Monday that it has extended an existing contract with El Segundo-based DirecTV Group Inc. to provide IT services for additional seven years.

Gov. Signs School Bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday signed legislation giving Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more control over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

OnLine Job Demand Sags

In another sign that the local economy may be softening, online job demand in Los Angeles County slipped in August as openings for technical and retail positions dwindled.

MGA, Sony to Bring Game Shows to Videogame Consuls

MGA Entertainment Inc. said Tuesday that it has signed a licensing agreement with Sony Pictures to create DVD video games based on game shows "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune."

Napster Exploring Sale, Merger

Online music retailer Napster Inc. said it has hired UBS Investment Bank to assist the Los Angeles-based company in a possible sale.

Farm Water is Suspected in Outbreak

As spinach consumers continued reporting more E. coli sickness on Monday, government investigators expanded their hunt for the cause beyond processors to Salinas Valley farms where E. coli has been found previously.

Senate OKs C-17 Funding

The U.S. Senate on Friday approved $4.4 billion in funding for 22 C-17 military transport aircraft

Jacobs Lands Two More Contracts Overseas

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said Tuesday that one of its subsidiaries has received a contract related to the design of the new Qatar Petroleum complex in Doha, Qatar.

Housing Starts Drop Sharply in August

Construction of new homes dropped a bigger-than-expected 6 percent in August, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Sacramento Real Estate Chief Leaves

CB Richard Ellis said Tuesday that commercial real estate broker Al Gianini, 51, is leaving his post as regional manager for the Sacramento area to start his own real estate consulting firm.

Monday, September 18

GM, Ford Could Merge or Form Alliance

Executives of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have discussed a possible merger or alliance, reports say. Both companies declined comment.

Label on Table

The Shriners are selling the naming rights to the Shrine Auditorium.

Televisa Denies Second Bid for Univision

Grupo Televisa has denied it will make a second bid for Univision Communications Inc.

Let Your Fingers Keep Walking Into World of Digital Directories

Organizers expect 450 advertising executives to converge on Century City this week for a conference to discuss the future of yellow pages.

FCC Chairman Puts a Chill on DirecTV- EchoStar Merger

DirecTV took two hits: It was dealt a setback in both its merger plans and its future as a News Corp. property.

Why Spy? Just Say 'Hi'

Charles Crumpley wonders why companies have to spy on employees when executives can learn so much so easily, and without prosecutable espionage.

Lofty Preservation Plan

Mark Weinstein found a way to save money for condo buyers in a downtown project pass along tax breaks to them.

Reform Act Won't Send Flood Of Cash Into American Funds

Because L.A.'s American Funds sell through brokers and advisers, it won't benefit much from the rush to put retirement money into mutual funds.

Westwood One Letting Listeners Download Popular Shows

Westwood One Inc., the largest radio network in the United States, is setting its sights on digital dominance, too.

Jakks to Make Deal or No Deal Games

Jakks Pacific Inc said it has signed a licensing agreement with Endemol USA Inc. to produce a line of products based on the game show "Deal or No Deal."

Convergence of Forces Leads to Renewed Vigor of Labor in L.A.

UCLA sociologist Ruth Milkman writes that immigration and changes in the political culture have led to a new ascendancy of organized labor in Los Angeles.

Standard Plans Losing Money and Viability

The traditional defined benefit pension plan is becoming an endangered species.

Magnetek to Stay Listed on NYSE

Magnetek Inc. said Monday that the New York Stock Exchange will continue to list the Los Angeles-based company's stock.

Ba-Da-Ba-Baaaaaa!

ESPN commissioned three new versions of the theme for "Monday Night Football" with Associated Production Music LLC.

Warner Music, YouTube Partner

Warner Music Group said it has entered into a deal with YouTube to offer music videos for download for the first time on the popular video sharing Web site.

Experts Offering Strategies for Management of Pension Funds

With pensions becoming riskier for employers, firms that specialize in managing retirement plans are offering their expertise.

As Market Softens, Countrywide Chief Decides He'll Stay

Angelo Mozilo's announcement that he won't retire from his position as head of Countrywide is seen as a reflection of a souring housing market.

Kearny's Quick Pickup Shows Nissan Exit Left No Skid Marks

Nissan's move to Tennessee was seen as a tough blow to the L.A. area, but the surprising sale of its campus last week bodes well for future employment.

Defined Benefits or Defined Contributions?

Dallas Salisbury of the Employee Benefit Research Institute believes that defined contribution plans may not be as good as some executives believe.

Electric Elected

Bob Foster, Long Beach's new mayor, brings the experience from his years at Southern California Edison to the city's economic challenges.

Firm Gives a Hand to Honda With Sales Prep Events

The launch of the new Honda CR-V ranks as a prime assignment for Santa Monica-based Campos Creative Works Inc.

O'Donnell Shifting Focus to Represent Katrina Victims

Just a week after losing a partner, Pierce O'Donnell has a new firm and focus.

Condos Priced at Record $14 Million

Fifield Cos. is pushing ahead with what it says will be the priciest condo project ever to hit the market in Los Angeles County $2,000 a square foot on average.

Failed Water Deal Driving Cadiz Into Desert Real Estate

Cadiz is considering real estate development of its property in the Mojave.

High-Rise Real Estate From Chicago to the West Coast

Michelle C. March of Fifield Realty Co.

Iris International Rebounds With $2 Million Supply Contract

Iris International Inc. scored a win last week with a lucrative urinalysis equipment and supply contract.

Newsmakers

Newsmakers for the past week in L.A. business.

Insulin Inhaler Advances

Mannkind Corp. said Monday that a study has found that its inhaled insulin therapy product was safe and effective in treating patients with type 2 diabetes.

DirecTV Makes Another Phone Deal

BellSouth Corp. has agreed to offer DirectTV Group Inc.'s satellite-television service in apartment and condominium buildings in an effort to fend off competition from cable operators.

Nasdaq De-Lists Global ePoint

Global ePoint Inc. said that it received notice from the Nasdaq Capital Market that the company will be de-listed from the stock exchange because the company violated shareholder approval rules.

Creatable Media Reaches Mall Deal

Creatable Media Inc. has reached deals with the four largest shopping mall real estate investment trusts in the country to place ads on the tables in the nation's 20 largest markets.

Investing in Quake Safety Now Will Pay Dividends Later

A modest investment in disaster readiness will pay huge dividends when the next big earthquake hits L.A., says seismologist Lucile Jones.

Ad Network, Cash Flow Make ValueClick Look Undervalued

Shares of ValueClick Inc., one of the world's largest online marketers, received a nice bump in the wake of last month's report of solid second quarter results. The stock rose from around $14 per share to about $18.

Tribune Faces Pressure To L.A. Times

Tribune Co., already under pressure from its largest shareholder, the Chandler family, is facing a growing challenge on another front: a push by some rich and powerful citizens in Los Angeles for a sale of the Los Angeles Times to local interests.

Of Sound Mind

Fabric Wallmount is hoping to get more business because of the boom in home theaters.

Going Once, Going Twice ... Two Bedrooms, One Bathroom

BidRent allows landlords to seek tenants willing to pay the highest price for rentals.

AT & T; Off to the Races

AT & T; Inc. and TVG Network, an interactive horse-racing network owned by Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., said Monday that they have reached an agreement to deliver TVG's horse-racing programming as part of the AT & T; U-verse TV cable lineup.

Companies Must Provide More Information to Employees

Companies will have to disclose more information about their pensions to employees.

Transamerica Signs $75 Million Lease at AT & T; Center

One of the largest lease deals of the year has closed in downtown Los Angeles.

With Costs Rising, Local Firm Ends Defined Benefit Pensions

Reinhold Industries is among the companies that froze its pension plan and encourages employees to put money into 401(k) retirement funds.

Murdoch to Bid Satellite Goodbye

News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said he's ready to get rid of News Corp.'s stake in the DirecTV satellite business.

Tiki Torpor

Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton is disappearing. While local fans are disappointed, they don't seem inspired to launch a preservation effort.

Santa Monica Seeks Strategies to Build Better Beaches

The Santa Monica Beach Summit will be a venue for residents to throw in their two cents about what might make the city a better beach destination.

Concept of 'Content Wrap' Commercials Is an Old Story

Fourth Wall will roll out "content wrap" advertising, a new incarnation of old story-based marketing.

High-End Publisher CurtCo Hasn't Found A Big-Bucks Buyer

Robb Report Luxury Hotels has named Beverly Hills' Peninsula Hotel as one of the world's most exclusive city escapes.

Friday, September 15

Activision Gets Nickelodeon Deal

Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom Inc. said Friday it has entered into a distribution agreement with a subsidiary of Santa Monica-based Activision.

Murdoch May Swap DirecTV

Rupert Murdoch spent more than a decade trying to gain control of DirecTV Group Inc., the nation's leading satellite TV operator.

Superior to Close Plant

Superior Industries International Inc. said Friday that it will close a factory in Johnson City, Tenn., eliminating about 500 jobs.

My Movie Space

MySpace.com said Friday that it has teamed up with Twentieth Century Fox to launch MySpace's first international film screening event.

Engineer Shortage is Costing the State

Faced with aging engineers and not enough children interested in math and science, where will California find the brain power to maintain its stature in the aerospace industry?

Palladium Back on the Block

The Hollywood Palladium is officially back on the block -- and CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. has been selected by the Palladiuma's ownership group to manage the sale of the Sunset Boulevard concert venue.

Live Nation Sells Sports Business

Live Nation Inc. said on Friday it has sold its SFX Baseball division to a newly formed company, Northbrook, Ill.-based NBK Baseball Group LLC. Terms were not disclosed.

Mayor Moves to Boost Housing

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced plans to place another $100 million into the city's housing trust fund to boost the stock of affordable housing.

L.A.'s Economy Hit Bump in August

While the state's economy picked up steam in August, L.A.'s economic expansion hit a bump in the road as the unemployment rate shot up and payroll job growth stalled out.

Dole Faces E Coli Suits

Two federal lawsuits have been filed against Dole Food Co. Inc., both claiming the company's bagged spinach sickened consumers with deadly e coli bacteria.

LA Times Editor: No Editorial Cuts

The editor of the Los Angeles Times said he does not want to make any more job cuts in his newsroom, defying the newspaper's corporate parent, which has asked for a budget-trimming plan.

Thursday, September 14

Mortgage Foreclosures Rise in 2Q

Mortgage foreclosures climbed in the spring as higher interest rates and energy prices made monthly payments harder for some homeowners.

Pacific Energy Buyout Clears Hurdle

U.S. and Canadian utility commissioners have given Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline L.P. the go-ahead on its acquisition of Long Beach-based Pacific Energy Partners L.P.

Gov. Vetoes Health Care Bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have required large employers to spend up to 8 percent of their total payroll on health care.

Lampoon Adds Board Member, Services

National Lampoon Inc. said today it has added producer Robert Levy to its board of directors effective immediately.

IMF: Housing Market Could Slow GDP

The U.S. economy is headed for a slowdown caused by a cooling housing market, the International Monetary Fund warned Thursday, and that could drag on global growth.

Retail Sales Slow, Jobless Claims Drop

Retail sales in August posted the weakest showing in two months as worried consumers curbed their spending habits.

Drop in Natural Gas Sends Oil Down

Natural gas futures declined sharply on Thursday after U.S. government data showed higher-than-anticipated levels of the winter fuel in underground storage facilities.

DirecTV Teams up With Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. and DirecTV Group Inc. said they have entered into an agreement to provide Internet access, telephone services and satellite TV content and service in a bundled package in select locations.

Gemstar and Yahoo Join Forces

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. said Thursday that it has signed a license agreement with Yahoo Inc. to offer interactive program guides on Yahoo's Web site called "Yahoo Go TV" service.

Two More Insurers Join in on Rate Cuts

21st Century Insurance Group and Safeco Insurance Cos. are seeking to reduce rates for policyholders statewide, State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said Thursday.

Wednesday, September 13

UPDATE: Lion's Gate vs. Image

The takeover battle between Image Entertainment Inc. and Lion's Gate Entertainment Corp. raged on Wednesday as Image accused the Santa Monica-based film company of releasing misleading information to intentionally drive down Image's stock price.

Nissan Sells Old Headquarters Building

Nissan North America Inc. said it has agreed to sell its former headquarters in Carson to Los Angeles-based Kearny Real Estate Co., which plans to convert the campus into a business park.

OSI Shares Down, Earning Up

Shares of OSI Systems Inc. slipped despite posting a strong thrid quarter.

Entertainment Cos. Sue Over Piracy

Walt Disney Co. has joined forces with five other media heavyweights to file piracy lawsuits in China against a handful of stores for selling pirated material.

Oil Prices Up After 7 Days of Losses

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, gaining some ground after seven straight days of drops as the U.S. government reported a decrease in the nation's crude inventories.

Ducommun Lands NASA Contract

Ducommun Inc. said Wednesday that a subsidiary of the Carson-based engineering and manufacturing services company signed a deal with NASA to develop sensors for a new interplanetary launch vehicle.

Tuesday, September 12

HP Chair to Step Down

Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn will step down in January and be succeeded by CEO Mark Hurd amid a widening scandal involving the computer and printer company's possibly illegal probe into media leaks.

BP Warned About Fixing Pipeline

Federal regulators warned BP PLC on Tuesday that it must supply detailed and credible evidence that a temporary fix to resume oil production on Alaska's North Slope can be done without environmental risk.

Oil Drops for 7th Straight Session

Oil prices fell for the seventh straight trading session on Tuesday, dipping below $65 a barrel at a time of year when demand for gasoline traditionally tapers off and winter fuels consumption has yet to ramp up.

Mozilo to Stay Past '06

The architect and innovator that helped build the largest mortgage company in the country said he isn't ready to give up his seat at the head of the table yet.

Demonstration Planned for End of Month

Local labor leaders are planning a major rally and civil disobedience march that will close down Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport during rush hour later this month.

Reliance, Kaiser Team up With Boeing

Two of the Southland's largest players in the finished metal and aluminum business announced a $105 million agreement Tuesday to supply heavy and light gauge plate, sheet and coil products to Boeing.

Lion's Gate Pressures Image Ent., Again

Lion's Gate Entertainment Corp. sent a letter to Image Entertainment Inc. shareholders on Tuesday urging them to replace the company's current board with six Lion's Gate candidates.

Amgen Lawsuit To Move Forward

A U.S. District Court judge in Delaware has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Amgen Inc. against Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm said Tuesday.

Activision Games to Go Mobile

InfoSpace Inc. said it has signed an agreement to create mobile versions of a handful of Activision Inc. games.

iTunes to Offer Disney Movies

Apple Computer Inc. said Tuesday that it will begin selling full-length Disney films on the company's iTunes store - that can be viewed on a brand new iPod.

Gov. Raises Minimum Wage to $8

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1835 Tuesday, raising the minimum wage in the state to $8 an hour by 2008.

Televisa Makes Second Try for Univision

Grupo Televisa wants a second chance to acquire Los Angeles-based Univision Communications Corp., the dominant Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States, according to a report in the New York Times.

Monday, September 11

Trial Powerhouse Hunton & Williams Opens L.A. Office

Last week Hunton & Williams LLP became the fourth East Coast law firm in six months to establish a Los Angeles office.

L.A. Council Pushes Ahead on Business Tax Simplification

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and business groups are pushing to resolve unfinished issues on reforming L.A.'s costly and burdensome business tax.

Sport Chalet Staying Fit

Sport Chalet has carved a solid niche for itself despite being in the midst of a leadership transfer and a developing strategic growth plan.

Hospitals Keep More Nurses Thanks to Residency Program

With a chronic nationwide nursing shortage especially acute in Southern California, hospitals can't afford to lose a single nurse.

United We Stand

United Online CEO Mark R. Goldston survived the "nuclear winter" of 2000 and now heads a thriving company.

Lampoon Rolls Out Video Site

National Lampoon said Monday it is launching a user-generated video site that will also have social networking features named KnuckleheadVideo.com.

Caruso Finally Breaking Ground on Americana at Brand

Caruso Affiliated Holdings has broken ground and released an early list of retailers to be housed at Glendale's Americana at Brand.

Emission Caps Roil German Business

Last year, to help combat global warming, Europe started charging industry for the right to spew hot air. For the first time on such a scale, governments slapped limits on the carbon-dioxide emissions of power plants, steelworks and other factories.

Never-Say-Die Napster Takes on Giants Again

Napster is rolling out an ad-based business model and a mobile distribution plan for its famed download service.

Newsmakers

Newsmakers for this week in L.A. business.

Pancake Chain Pouring It On as Gas Prices Batter Competition

Establishments such as IHOP and its brethren at the lower end of the casual dining spectrum are eating the lunch of higher priced venues.

Rolling Along

Trucking is the most essential mode of the goods movement chain, says Stephanie Williams of the California Trucking Association.

Contractor Must Pay Back Wages

Pacific Housing Diversified, a Los Angeles-based general contractor, has agreed to pay $385,800 in back wages to 164 employees and $61,000 in civil penalties.

Sluggish Economic Growth Predicted

The economic expansion, which began in late 2001, still has staying power although growth will be sluggish through the rest of the year, business economists predict.

Accruent Expands Client Base

Accruent, Inc. said Monday that it has signed agreements with 10 companies for its real estate performance management software.

Let's Hope Santa Doesn't Leave Lumps of Coal in the Stockings

Holiday television programming is a strange animal. For example, a broadcast loop of logs burning in a fireplace accompanied by a Christmas carol soundtrack burns up ratings in New York and on KCAL-TV (Channel 9) in Los Angeles.

Femme-Angled Radio Programs To Skip Politics

GreenStone Media LLC will produce a radio program of news, practical information and humor aimed at women.

Style Diary Posting Fashion Fun From Both Near and Far

Style Diary.net, a Los Angeles-based online social and fashion network, provides a clearinghouse for fashion-minded men and women to see and be seen in the latest styles.

Branched Out

Beverly Hills Bancorp Inc. recently announced the sale of its Beverly Hills branch, First Bank of Beverly Hills, leaving the firm without a Beverly Hills location.

Picante-sicles

Michel Algazi and Roni Goldberg are making frozen concoctions such as chili lime popsicles and sweet corn ice cream, finding success at Whole Foods and Wild Oats markets.

Amgen Patent Case Expedited

Amgen Inc. has been granted an accelerated hearing in its pending patent-infringement lawsuit against the Swiss firm Roche Holding AG.

Confidence Game

Charles Crumpley questions whether a drop in home prices will really hurt the economy.

Colorado Senators Calling for Probe In DirecTV Feud

A long-running feud between the nation's two largest satellite television companies has spilled onto the national stage.

S & P; Ranks Top Growth Firms

Fifteen Southern California companies are on the list of the Standard & Poor's Global Challengers, which was released last week.

Ford to Shrink Dealer Network

Ford Motor Co. is planning to shrink its U.S. dealer network in the next three years to align distribution better with its current market share, Cisco Codina, the company's North American sales chief, said on Monday.

Waiting Game

Rick Hodges, known as the Godfather in the field of providing custom messages that companies play when callers are on hold, rolls out a new business.

Crude Oil Prices Sink Below $66 a Barrel

Oil prices fell below $66 a barrel Monday as concerns over supplies eased in expectation that OPEC ministers would not change their production targets.

Future of L.A.'s Glass Tower Project Becomes More Clear

Amir Kalantari acknowledges that when he took 10 months to revise and revamp his plans for his downtown Glass Tower project some in the real estate industry began to question the fate of the idle project.

M2B Hopes Viewers Will PONY Up for On-Demand

A leading Internet TV company is Los Angeles-based M2B World Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of a Singapore company, which has inked a 500-picture deal with Sony.

Exec Returns to His Record Label Roots

Danny Goldberg, the former head of progressive but troubled Air America Radio, has resurfaced.

Real Estate Market Continued Its Cooling Trend in August

August housing sales continued their cooling trend even as prices held. Condo sales took a hit, too.

... But Increased Use of Trains Could Help Get More Traffic Off L.A. Roads

More trains would get trucks off the freeways and ease life for L.A. commuters, argues Wendell Cox of Demographia.

Friday, September 8

Edison Suggests Postponing Rate Hike

Southern California Edison said Friday that it is proposing a further postponement of a 6 percent hike in residential rates for the state.

New Macy's Debuts Saturday

The transformation is nearly complete. The hulking building at the north end of the Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga Park still bears the Robinsons-May name, but everything inside is Macy's.

Ruling May Open Access to Proxies

Publicly traded companies could be forced to give shareholders a greater say in their board elections under a ruling this week by a federal appeals court

Caltrans: Limit Hybrids in Carpool Lane

Worried about increased congestion, a new Caltrans report recommends capping the number of hybrids that can be driven solo in state carpool lanes at current levels.

Promotion May Point to Mozilo Successor

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Friday it has named David Sambol president and chief operating officer, signaling a possible successor to current CEO Angelo Mozilo who may retire at year's end.

Thursday, September 7

OSI Lands $10 Million Contract

Hawthorne-based OSI Systems Inc. said Thursday that its optoelectronics and manufacturing division has received a $10.5 million OEM contract from a Fortune 500 medical equipment company.

Term Limit Measure Stays on Ballot

A Los Angeles ballot measure that would have lengthened term limits for City Council members remains on the ballot.

FDA Wants New Study From Abraxis

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Thursday told Abraxis BioScience Inc. that it needs to conduct a well controlled randomized clinical trial before it would be allowed to market its Abraxane drug for wider use in breast cancer patients.

California Consumer Confidence Up

California consumers were more upbeat in the third quarter as they responded favorably to the halt in interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, according to a survey released Wednesday from Chapman University.

On Bleak Outlook, KB Lowers Estimates

KB Home cut its full-year profit forecast Thursday for the second time in three months, attributing the move to a difficult housing market and sharply declining orders.

The Forum Sues Staples Center

The ownership group of Inglewood's Forum filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Anschutz Entertainment Group for failing to book enough acts at the arena and diverting potential business to the AEG-owned Staples Center across town.

Calif. Investigates HP Probe

Revelations that Hewlett-Packard Co. officials used questionable tactics in an internal investigation into media leaks have caught the attention of California's attorney general.

Lawmakers Grill BP on Pipeline Spill

BP executives received stern warnings from members of Congress outraged at the company's admittedly deficient maintenance of leak-prone Alaskan oil pipelines.

Wednesday, September 6

Looming Inflation Slows Economy

Economic growth is slowing in the northeastern United States but steady in most other parts of the country, the Federal Reserve said today.

Home Prices Rise, Barely

U.S. home prices continued to rise in the second quarter but showed the biggest slowdown in three decades, federal regulators said Tuesday.

Rate Hike Sends Stocks Down

Stocks fell in early trading Wednesday after the Labor Department said productivity fell and wages increased in the spring, stoking fears that wage inflation will slow an already cooling economy.

Vivendi Buys BMG Music for $2 Billion

German media company Bertelsmann AG said Wednesday it has signed a "definitive agreement" to sell BMG Music Publishing Group to Vivendi SA for $2.09 billion.

FDA to Consider Abraxis Request

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Thursday will consider a request by Abraxis BioScience Inc. to be allowed to market its Abraxane drug for wider use in breast cancer patients.

Governor to Veto Health Care Bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday announced he intends to veto a bill opposed by business that would have set up a single-payer, universal health care system.

Wednesday's Business News

Union Asks for Strike Blessing; Clear Channel Pumps Up Volume of Stock Buyback Plan; Lions Gate Urges Changes to Image Board; Jakks Released Rocky Toys ...

State Farm to Cut Rates for Homeowners

California's largest homeowner's insurer, State Farm General Insurance Co., plans today to announce premium cuts of about 11% for 1.2 million of its policyholders.

Union Asks for Strike Blessing

The head of the Engineers and Architects Association union that struck Aug. 22-23 is asking the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor for its blessing in authorizing a second strike.

Senators Seek Satellite TV Probe

Colorado's two senators have asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to look into the long-running dispute between the nation's two largest satellite television companies.

Tuesday, September 5

L.A. Gas Prices Continue to Drop

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles Area dropped 1 cent to $3.027 for the week ended Sept. 4, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Stocks Eke Out Gain

Wall Street squeezed out a small gain Tuesday as traders got back to work from a three-day break to find oil prices retreating but little other data to guide them.

Bill Ford Out As CEO

Bill Ford is stepping down as chief executive at Ford Motor Co. and the troubled automaker said Tuesday he will be replaced by Alan Mulally, a top executive from the airplane maker Boeing Co.

Chevron Hits Oil in Gulf

Three oil companies, led by Chevron Corp., have successfully drilled for oil in the Gulf of Mexico's deep waters, suggesting there may be more oil in the region that already provides a quarter of U.S. output.

Daily Grill Owner to Buy Out Partner

Grill Concepts Inc., owner of the upscale casual Daily Grill chain, said it plans to buy out for $2.8 million some of the financial interests of a partner in hotel-based restaurants the companies operate in seven cities.

Home Prices Show Sharp Slowdown

U.S. home prices continued to rise in the second quarter but showed the biggest slowdown in three decades, federal regulators reported Tuesday.

Monday, September 4

Cities Accused of Accelerating Eminent Domain Actions

Some people are charging that municipalities are speeding up condemnation proceedings in case a November initiative containing the restrictions passes.

Barrington Director Modeled Sale to Wells on Foothill Deal

Jim Freedman carefully planned the sale of investment house Barrington Associates to Wells Fargo & Co. in order to remain a stand-alone division of the banking giant.

One Hot Robot

Robby the Robot is Fred Barton's passion, and he grosses about $1 million each year by creating replicas of the famed mechanical figure.

M & A; Cooled Down When Summer Heated Up

July activity for business combinations cooled in comparison to a sizzling June.

Newsmakers & Kudos

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

MySpace Guru Adds Asia To Friends List

MySpace founder Brad Greenspan has launched BroadWebAsia, a venture that could lead to another battle with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

From the East

Golden Coast Bank is set to open late this year or early next, and organizers believe it will be the first Cambodian bank in the nation.

CytRx Hits Home Run With Deal on Lou Gehrig Disease Drug

Executives at CytRx Corp. have proved savvy negotiators in garnering a $24.5 million infusion to develop a drug for deadly Lou Gehrig's disease.

Palladium Deal Collapses but Landmark's Still for Sale

Although negotiations to sell the Hollywood Palladium fell apart, it remains on the market with likely interest from multiple bidders, according to a broker familiar with the property.

Attorney Changes Tracks in Return to Corporate Law

In his new position as associate attorney at Torrance-based firm of Artiano Guzman & Toomey LLP, Joseph Burton will be focusing on transactional and environmental matters in corporate law.

Vacations Go Out of Style

Charles Crumpley notices what seems to be a lost tradition: the two-week summer vacation.

Numbers-Based Methodology Key to Success of Advertising

Legend has it that John Wanamaker, the man who founded the first department store in 1876, once said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."

Watchdog Firm Raises Regulatory Red Flags With Software

Regulatory crackdowns are the bread-and-butter of Audit Integrity Inc., a Santa Monica-based company with programs that dig through financial filings for warning flags.

Google Gobbles Santa Monica Photo Recognition Shop

Search giant Google Inc. has swallowed up another Los Angeles County tech firm.

Regional Report

A round-up of business news from the Greater Los Angeles area.

Circa 55 Makes Its Name as Beverly Hilton's New Eatery

The Beverly Hilton will cap its $80 million renovation by bringing in a new restaurant, Circa 55.

Developers Fear Prop. 90 Clause

An obscure provision of Proposition 90 calls for landowners to receive compensation whenever government downzones land not just in the case of condemnation.

Cutting Class

Los Angeles County has 26 dedicated beauty schools, and there are still more local salon jobs open than there are registered professionals to fill them.

Speed Low-Risk Travelers Through Increased Security

A trusted traveler program would speed business fliers onto planes and give security guards more time to better screen everyone else, according to K. Jack Riley and Henry H. Willis of the Rand Corp.

L.A. Firm Aiding Alaskan School District in Protest Case

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has taken on an unusual pro bono case because it wants to support the public school system.

Law Firm's Entry Adds to Century City's Showbiz Shift

A prominent entertainment law firm is moving to Century City, signaling the area's continued emergence as prime real estate for talent representation companies

Commercials, Prices Are Ruining the Moviegoing Experience

The problem with falling attendance in theaters can be attributed to high prices and commercials, not so much to bad films.

'Below the Radar'

Marshall Geller of St. Cloud Capital has found that investing in companies under Wall Street's radar can bring significant rewards.

Any Way You Slice It, Pizza Chain Is Ready for Extreme Makeover

Shakey's Pizza is reinventing itself as a family-friendly fast-casual grill with a different look and new menu items.

Indie Music Label Immergent Ready To Rock Retailers

By the end of the year, music lovers can start shopping for albums while waiting in line for Chardonnay, draperies or even massages.

Big 5 Making a Rebound With Handling of Bottom-Line Issues

After heavy boardroom drama over the past 18 months, Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. looks to be showing signs of a rebound.

Which Salem?

Salem Communications Inc. has seen its stock fall even though the audience for religious broadcasting is growing.

Friday, September 1

Experts: Big Drop in Gas Prices Unlikely

As gasoline climbed past $3 a gallon this summer, Juan Martinez topped off his tank $10 or $15 at a time to prevent his wallet from hitting empty. Now that pump prices are falling, the strategy is really paying off.

Hollywood Landmark Still for Sale

Although negotiations to sell the Hollywood Palladium fell apart, it remains on the market with likely interest from multiple bidders, according to a broker familiar with the property.

Stocks Rise on August Jobs Data

Wall Street ended an erratic week with a big advance Friday after the Labor Department signaled that an economic slowdown might not be as severe as some have predicted. The major indexes ended the week with gains.

Summa Industries to be Acquired

Summa Industries, a Torrance-based maker of plastic components, has agreed to be acquired for about $58 million in cash by Habasit Holdings AG, a private Swiss company.

Data Point to Cooler Growth

U.S. employers added 128,000 workers to their payrolls in August, evidence of a cooler -- but still solid -- pace of economic growth that could let the Federal Reserve hold interest rates steady.

L.A. Gas Average Drops to $3.215

For the sixth straight week gasoline prices trickled lower across the Southland, according to the latest Automobile Club of Southern California's weekend gas watch.