Stories for April 2009

Thursday, April 30

Disney, Hulu Deal Announced

Walt Disney Co. has taken a stake in Hulu, the video streaming site operated by NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners.

Abraxis BioScience Names New Chief Executive

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, chief executive of Abraxis BioScience Inc., said he's stepping down to focus on a spinoff company targeting cutting-edge personalized medicine technologies.

Studios Forced to Delay Mexico Openings

Hollywood movie studios, about to enter the most crucial time of the year for ticket sales, are being forced to delay the Mexico releases of their big early-summer movies as theaters there close because of the swine flu epidemic sweeping the country.

OSI Systems Shares Rise on Outlook

OSI Systems Inc. said its fiscal third-quarter net income fell 62 percent from a year ago, largely due to lower medical equipment sales and one-time restructuring charges. But shares rose in Thursday trading after the maker of X-ray security and other scr

Platinum Equity Buys IT Company

Platinum Equity said it acquired a majority stake in Canvas Systems LLC, a global supplier of used and refurbished enterprise-class IT equipment and services.

Earl Scheib Goes Private Following Acquisition

Kelly Capital LLC said it had completed its $16.7 million acquisition of Earl Scheib Inc. a Sherman Oaks chain of automotive paint and collision repair shops.

Update: Ryland Group Sells Senior Notes

The Ryland Group on Thursday sold $230 million in 10-year senior notes, according to an industry source. The sale came a day after the homebuilder reported its first quarter loss more than doubled, driving down shares 14 percent.

Wednesday, April 29

East West Bancorp Cuts Dividend After Loss

East West Bancorp Inc. shares gained more than 17 percent Wednesday, despite reporting a worse-than-expected first quarter loss and slashing its quarterly dividend. The owner of L.A. County's second largest locally based bank also raised its provision for

CalPERS, CalSTRS Stand Up to BofA Management

California's biggest pension funds have turned up the heat on Bank of America Corp.'s board, saying they would vote their million of shares against all 18 directors at Wednesday's annual meeting.

Skechers Surprises Wall Street with Good Quarter

Shares of Skechers USA Inc. jumped nearly 20 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday after the trendy shoe maker said inventory reductions and lower operating expenses enabled it to report a first quarter profit that was better than expected.

Update: FBI Arrests OC Financier

Danny Pang, founder and ex-chief executive officer of Private Equity Management Group Inc. in Santa Ana, was arrested on federal charges that he evaded transaction-reporting laws by cashing checks for amounts of less than $10,000.

CB Richard Ellis Slips to Loss

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. said it suffered a first quarter loss as the global commercial real estate market continued to slump. The results failed to meet Wall Street expectations.

American Apparel Loses Evidence Bid in Allen Case

American Apparel Inc., the retailer sued by director Woody Allen for using his image on billboards without permission, can't force him to turn over fan mail and other evidence of his public image, a judge ruled.

Tuesday, April 28

Jacobs Tempers Outlook Despite Earnings Growth

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. reported a higher first quarter net income, but cut its outlook for the full year.

Avery Dennison Reports Loss

Large restructuring and asset impairment charges moved Avery Dennison Corp. to a first-quarter loss. Adjusted for the charges, results for the adhesive label maker were still worse than Wall Street expected, although revenue was slightly better than antic

MGA Goes Into Receivership

A federal judge in Riverside ordered MGA Entertainment Inc. into receivership as a result of the company's loss of the Bratz franchise to rival Mattel Inc.

Update: Source Interlink Files for Bankruptcy, Will Privatize

Source Interlink Cos., the publisher of Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Street Chopper magazines controlled by L.A. billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos., sought bankruptcy protection as it moves to become a private company.

Update: Preservationists Advance on Century Plaza Hotel

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has added the Century Plaza Hotel to its list of endangered historic places, setting up a legal battle between preservationists and the landmark hotel's new owners, who plan to tear down the building and redeve

Christian Audigier's Branding Machine Grinds On

Deisgner Christian Audigier is building, slowly and frighteningly, a 360-degree brand bubble for his clientele. The latest entry: wine emblazond with a tattoo-themed Ed Hardy label.

Update: A Merger of Agencies Shakes Up Hollywood

After months of discussion and rumors, two of the entertainment industry's largest talent agencies, William Morris and Endeavor, have agreed to merge as William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

DreamWorks Animation Beats Expectations

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said its net income more than doubled in the first quarter due to strong revenue growth from the sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."

Monday, April 27

Road to Recovery

When a family member or loved one is addicted to drugs and refusing treatment, who are you going to call? One possibility is Mike Bayer, 29, who turned his own addiction into the business of helping others overcome theirs.

Broker's Family Affair

Daniel Negari was an early entrepreneur. He started selling computers at age 12 through a Web site called GetaPCNow.com that he and his friends built. But Negari was intrigued by another industry real estate.

REGIONAL REPORT

JBL Inc. has formed a partnership with has formed a partnership with a unit of Quicksilver Inc. to create a line of branded headphones and other audio accessories.

Updated: Split Decision in 'Clean Trucks' Suit

A federal judge has ruled that the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports can't require the use of employee drivers or charge registration fees to work at the ports, pending a trial on the matter. But the judge did uphold other aspects of the the ports' Clean T

Tapping Captive Audience

Video gamers are powering up sales of a local duo's drink products.

Friendly Skies

Ben Marcus and Cyrus Sigari met at age 12 at Santa Monica Airport while serving as cadets in the Civil Air Patrol, a U.S. Air Force-sponsored program that educates youth about aviation.

Virtually Always Available

Jaspar Weir and Bryce Maddock developed the idea for virtual personal assistant company TaskUs while eating at a burrito stand in Argentina.

Global Consultancy Stays Rooted in Century City

Santa Monica developer and landlord Watt Cos. has kept a large and longtime tenant at Watt Plaza, its twin-tower Century City office development.

On the Hit List

The local radio market is rocking as Arbitron's Personal People Meters revise ratings and ad rates.

Second Roast May Get Toastier for Levine

It wasn't your typical house party April 16 when Hollywood's elite gathered to roast public relations guru Michael Levine for his 55th birthday.

A Call for 'Action!'

Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer and Aram Tertzakian met three years ago at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.

High Flier Joins Big Boys at LAX

Low-profile, low-cost airline Allegiant Air has been cleared for takeoff at LAX.

Guiding Force

Digital Domain CEO Cliff Plumer credits "Star Wars" with launching his career in crafting movie special effects.

Staying Image Conscious

Ari Mir and Ophir Tanz may only be in their 20s, but they're no strangers to starting their own companies, or to each other: GumGum Inc. is in fact the second startup on which the two have joined forces.

Legal Tab Spurs Lawsuit From Insurance Company

Lawyers at large firms are notorious for hefty bills, but $450 per hour for an associate who hadn't even passed the bar?

Surfing Synergy

When two USC students met about two years ago, they knew they shared a passion for surfing.

Customized Treatment

A new program at LAX helps frequent business fliers speed through security checks.

Ad Firm Still Sees Internet As Growth Opportunity

The economy may be crimping revenue at Internet giants such as Yahoo and Google, but several local companies remain bullish on online advertising.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

L.A. County's jobless rate soared to 11.4 percent in March, the highest level since World War II.

Biotech to Bet on Healthy Prognosis, Plans to Buy Back Shares

Abraxis hopes to give its stock a shot in the arm with a buyback program.

Occidental Signs Bahrain Agreement

Occidental Petroleum Corp said it had signed an agreement with the National Oil and Gas Authority of Bahrain for further development of the Bahrain Field, which is expected to cost $1.5 billion over five years

Network Connection

When most 14-year-old boys were playing video games or pickup basketball, Robby Berthume was pursuing his dream of becoming an entrepreneur: He launched a Web design company in 2000 for the real estate industry.

Hollywood Hook-Up

Jason Peterson always knew he wanted to do something in the movie business. Today, at 27, the self-proclaimed entrepreneur at heart already has two companies in the entertainment field under his belt.

Lions Gate Signs Deal with Relativity Media

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. said it has signed a multiyear deal to distribute Relativity Media productions in the United States.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Events of interest to Los Angeles' business community.

Iowa Native's Relocation to Los Angeles a Shore Thing

Some people who run into Abby Oliver in Los Angeles might think "fish out of water" when they hear she hails from Maquoketa, a small Iowa town with a population of 6,000. But they couldn't be further from the truth.

Time for Self-Inflicted Cuts

Some sacrifice on the part of Californians is required if the state is to sever ties with its history of budget crises, writes Clive Hoffman.

Lawmakers Cross Aisle to Save Boeing Jet, Jobs

A groundswell of local bipartisan support is building to save the C-17 military cargo plane assembled in the aerospace industry's last remaining large plant in the L.A. area.

Far East Foothold

For James Requa, the road to starting a business went through China.

Newsmakers

Villa Esperanza Services, a Pasadena-based non-profit organization offering services for individuals with disabilities and their families, has appointed Kelly White chief executive.

TV Contract Accents Spanish-Speaking Viewership

Chivas USA has signed a deal with local TV station KAZA-54 to broadcast eight games in Spanish during the current season, filling in a potentially large coverage gap for the soccer club.

Never Too Young for the Old College Try

Alvaro Huerta has learned it's never too early when it comes to your kid's collegiate future.

Research Ads Up

Say you're an executive with a $50,000 advertising budget you don't want to blow. Ali Salomi will tell you how to spend it.

Countrywide Name Goes Away

As expected, Bank of America Corp. has officially dropped the Countrywide Home Loans name from its Calabasas mortgage and home equity lending operations, which it acquired last year after Countrywide collapsed during the subprime loan crisis.

Flex Space

A gym designer helps customers get in shape by fitting exercise equipment into apartment buildings and home dens.

Business Groups Back Tax Levies

In a twist, many L.A.-area business groups are backing state propositions that will raise taxes.

SAG Sinks After Split

Charles Crumpley wonders if the Screen Actors Guild will ever get its act together when it comes to contract negotiations.

Sticking to Script

Some Screen Actors Guild members are still holding out for a Hollywood ending to their contract dispute with producers.

Fattened-Up Venture Fund Looking to Fit in L.A.

While venture capital firms across the country are tightening their purse strings, DFJ Frontier announced this week the close of a $55.4 million fund to invest in media, information technology and other startup companies along the West Coast.

Healthy Future Takes Shape

Cell accessory lets users phone in lab analyses from remote locations.

Motion Picture Assn. of America Faces Difficult Scene

Budget cuts by member studios and their parent firms' self-interests have created new challenges for the big studios' trade group.

Best Wurst Idea

If you have a hankering for rattlesnake, there's a place for you in Los Angeles.

Saturday, April 25

Newhall Ranch Project Moving Forward

The long-planned Newhall Ranch project has entered its next phase, with developers promising Friday to take a more environmentally sensitive approach as they build the 21,000-home mini-city between the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

Failed Home Depot Site for Sale

The site of a failed Home Depot design center proposal near Los Cerritos Wetlands is up for sale.

RealNetworks, Hollywood in Court Battle Over Software

Hollywood calls it "rent, rip and return" and contends it's one of the biggest technological threats to the movie industry's annual $20 billion DVD market - software that allows you to copy a film without paying for it.

Friday, April 24

Regulators Seize First Bank of Beverly Hills

First Bank of Beverly Hills, the Calabasas institution battered by losses on condominium construction loans, has been seized by regulators, becoming the second bank in Los Angeles County to fail this year.

Wetherly Capital Group Tangled in Probe

A Los Angeles investment firm run by a well-known Southern California political operative has become ensnared in a widening probe into the fees paid to advisors who help place investments in public pension funds.

The Week's Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed up slightly for the week ended April 24. Markets were boosted after the government unveiled its criteria for "stress testing" the health of banks, which could force

Cheesecake Factory Earnings Beat Expectations

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. reported first-quarter net income that was 30 percent lower than a year ago but still much better than Wall Street expected.

MySpace Names Facebook Veteran as CEO

In a nod to the success of its archrival, News Corp. has appointed a former Facebook executive to be the new CEO of social networking site MySpace.

City National's Net Income Falls

City National Corp. said it will cut its dividend after reporting first quarter net income had plunged. The bank holding company's results were better than Wall Street expected.

Thursday, April 23

Occidental Petroleum Profits Fall 80 Percent

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said its first-quarter net income fell 80 percent from a year ago as results were crushed by lower oil and natural gas prices. The results were still better than Wall Street estimates.

Anemic Sales Lowers Amgen's Profit, Expectations

Amgen Inc. cut its full-year revenue outlook after reporting a continued sales decline in its flagship anemia drug and other products, which lowered first-quarter net income.

Air Board OKs Fuel Rule

California air regulators on approved a sweeping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuel produced and sold in the state.

Low Expectations for Downtown's Concerto Condo Project

Profits? The developer of the $300-million Concerto project in downtown Los Angeles would be happy to break even.

Lower Sales Result in Jakks Pacific Loss

Jakks Pacific Inc. shares dropped nearly 16 percent Thursday after the Malibu toymaker reported a larger-than-expected first quarter loss, caused by lower sales and also costs related to recent acquisitions. The company lowered its guidance for 2009.

KIIS Stays at Top

Not much changed for the top five radio stations in Los Angeles as KIIS FM (102.7) held onto its top spot, according to March rankings from Arbitron Inc. released on its Web site Thursday.

VCA Antech Net Income Helped by Acquisitions

VCA Antech Inc. said its first-quarter net income increased 3 percent as some of its recent animal hospital acquisitions helped boost revenue. The company's profit was slightly better than Wall Street estimates but revenue was lower.

Reliance Steel's Profit Drops More Than 80 Percent

Shares of Reliance Steel & Aluminum fell more than 11 percent early Thursday after the metals processor and distributor said its first-quarter net income plunged 82 percent as demand for its products fell due to the weak economy.

Judge Tosses Suits Against Dole

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has dismissed two lawsuits filed against Dole Food Company Inc. by Nicaraguan banana plantation workers.

Wednesday, April 22

Canyon Capital Takes Over Namvar Property

Canyon Capital Realty Advisors LLC has emerged as the new owner of Lake Tahoe's Cal Neva Resort hotel and casino, a property previously owned by bankrupt Brentwood businessman Ezri Namvar.

Foreclosures Rise Sharply in L.A. County

Foreclosure filings in Los Angeles County rose 47 percent in the first quarter, though that was at a slower pace than many inland areas of the state, according to new data from RealtyTrac Inc.

Report: Kerkorian Considering Mirage Sale to Hold Off Icahn

Casino mogul Kirk Kerkorian is fighting to save his MGM Mirage empire from the clutches of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn -- and may go as far as selling The Mirage casino in Las Vegas to fend him off, according to news reports.

Teledyne Profit Falls but Beats Expectations

Teledyne Technologies Inc. reported better-than-expected net income in the first quarter but its outlook for the current quarter fell on the low end of Wall Street expectations.

Icahn Extends Lions Gate Bond Offer to May 1

After getting a frosty response from bondholders for his bid to buy up Lions Gate's convertible debt, activist shareholder Carl Icahn has extended his tender offer to May 1.

Northrop Reports Good Quarter; Raises Outlook

Northrop Grumman Corp. reported first quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, thanks to higher sales in its electronic systems and shipbuilding units.

He's Behind the Guffaws and the Gore

If the stalker thriller "Obsessed," which opens on Friday, tops the box office, Clinton R. Culpepper will cement his reputation as Hollywood's king of the schlockbuster.

Update: MySpace CEO Resigns

Chris DeWolfe, the founder and chief executive of MySpace, will step down, the Beverly Hills company said Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 21

Alexandria Selling $175 Million in Senior Notes

Real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. said it is privately offering $175 million in senior convertible notes to pay down debt.

Harman Denies Lobbying Justice Department

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice, is denying that she agreed to lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage charges against two officials of a powerful pro-Israeli lobby in exchange for help landing the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee.

Wilshire Bancorp Reports Drop in Net Income

Wilshire Bancorp Inc. said its first quarter net income fell 39 percent as the Los Angeles bank holding company set aside more money to handle an increase in non-performing loans.

Hilton Gets Grand Jury Subpoena

Federal authorities in New York are investigating allegations that Hilton Hotels Corp. used information stolen from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. to create a new luxury hotel brand.

Dole Counters Claims in Pesticide Lawsuit

Dole Food Co. has gone on the legal offensive in the latest cases accusing it of using a banned pesticide at its Nicaraguan banana plantations three decades ago, causing sterility among workers.

Jacobs Wins Contract in India

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said it had been awarded a contract by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. for project management consultant services on a refinery project.

Abraxis BioScience Plans Share Repurchases

Abraxis BioScience Inc. said its directors authorized a program to repurchase up to $100 million of the company's common stock.

Lions Gate Makes Deal With Bondholders

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. made an eleventh-hour deal with two bondholders that will keep about 28 percent of $316 million in convertible debt out of the hands of activist shareholder Carl Icahn.

Karatz Trial Date Set

A federal judge in Los Angeles set a Nov. 3 start for the stock options backdating trial of KB Home's former chief executive, Bruce Karatz, over the objections of defense attorneys who said they need more time to prepare for the "complex case."

Monday, April 20

Breitburn Energy Suspends Partnership Payments; Stock Price Dives

Breitburn Energy Partners LP on Monday announced it was suspending cash distributions to its investors, sparking a sell-off that drove down the price 39 percent.

TRI-CITIES: Glendale Benefits From Tax-Averse L.A. Transplants

Real Estate Quarterly: Pasadena pushed up its vacancy rate up to 15.5 percent in the first quarter.

Small Minority-Owned Businesses a Path to New 'Main Street'

Jorge C. Corralejo feels that not enough is being done to exploit the strength of L.A.'s small minority-owned businesses.

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY: Investors Wait for Prices to Fall Further

Real Estate Quarterly: The market declined while investors waited for prices to drop even further.

Bus Terminal Basks in Bright Idea

Lili Lakich's metal-and-neon sculpture lights up the Van Nuys FlyAway Bus Terminal.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Upcoming dates of interest to the business community.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Comedian Woody Allen has accused American Apparel Inc. of trying to harass him in retaliation for his $10 million lawsuit.

REGIONAL REPORT

RJ Feder & Associates Inc., a commercial real estate services firm, has opened its doors in Encino.

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY: Tower Sale High Point in Down Market

Real Estate Quarterly: Brokers experienced yet another quarter of rising vacancies.

Downturn Brings '90s Flashback to Lending Pioneer

It's d & #233;j & #341; vu all over again as pioneering financier Ethan Penner deals with a down market.

Mall Owner's Bankruptcy May Send Investors on Shopping Spree

Mall owner General Growth's bankruptcy likely means for-sale signs on some local shopping centers.

Long Beach Harbor Commissioners Delay Fee Collection

By FRANCISCO VARA-ORTA Staff Reporter

Regulators, Oil Businesses Divided on Carbon Cuts

This week's California Air Resources Board hearing on plans to reduce the carbon content of fuels will pit the regulators against the oil companies.

Anchors Away

Marina del Rey has been hit by a wave of slip vacancies as boat owners try to shore up their finances.

Wing Man

Director Mario Rodriguez is seeing blue skies at Long Beach Airport after overseeing New Orleans' facility during Katrina.

Local Investment Company Cashes In on Tight Market

BH Properties avoids the tight loan market by paying cash for real estate.

Downgrade Hurts City National Shares

City National Bank on Monday suffered a double-digit decline in its stock price after Goldman Sachs downgraded the bank to "sell."

WILSHIRE CORRIDOR: Aggresive Landlords Slash Class A Rents

Real Estate Quarterly: The recession finally hit hard in one of the last remaining real estate strongholds.

Change In Store for Vending

Utique Shop has brought change to vending machines by offering high-end beauty products.

Capital Levels Crash at Lender

Data shows Cal National is one of the worst capitalized banks in California.

SAG Board Approves Studio Deal by Slim Margin

The national board of the Screen Actors Guild voted Sunday to approve a two-year agreement covering film and TV projects by a slim 53 percent to 47 percent vote margin.

Venture Funding in First Quarter Drops 50 Percent

The flow of start-up money has reverted to levels not seen since before the dot-com boom of the last decade.

Updated: Villaraigosa Presents $7 Billion Budget

The mayor proposes a 10 percent reduction in personnel costs and the leasing of city-owned parking garages to close an estimated $530-million shortfall.

Idle Rail Cars in San Gabriel Valley Draw Graffiti, Ire

If in doubt as to how much the economic downturn has slammed trade, look at the three-mile stretch of unused freight cars in the San Gabriel Valley.

SOUTH BAY/MID-CITIES: Vacancy Dips Buck Countywide Trend

Real Estate Quarterly: One of the county's few bright submarkets for the quarter saw its vacancy rate fall.

Reinventing Politics on a Budget

Propositions on the May ballot address the state's dysfunctional budget process, writes Carol Schatz.

Channeling Growth

DirecTV hopes premium content on its 101 Network will channel subscribers to the satellite service.

SANTA CLARITA VALLEY: Rate of Returned Office Space Slows

Real Estate Quarterly: Valencia's office market continued to weaken in the quarter.

Grocery Store Mogul George Torres Convicted of Murder, Conspiracy

During a three-week trial, prosecutors alleged that Torres was a ruthless entrepreneur who made millions in the grocery business by hiring illegal workers, failing to pay taxes, bribing a public official and arranging to have people killed when they cross

Prime Time for Private Push

Charles Crumpley feels there's no time like the present for Los Angeles to privatize city facilities and services.

DOWNTOWN: Tenants Get Upper Hand in Bids for Lower Leases

Real Estate Quarterly: Vacancy rates ticked up just one-tenth of a point to 13.9 percent in the first quarter.

Rushin' Into It

An Arcadia homebuilder has dialed up long-distance business with work on a Moscow megamansion.

Investors Prepare to Dine On Distressed Properties

Vulture investors are piling up funds they'll use to pounce on distressed properties.

Want Fries With That New Industry Contact? Yes

Here's a recipe for a night of networking: live music, beer and executives from some of the top record labels and music companies.

The New Loan Mechanism

Commercial developers are banking on a new group of private lenders to fill a financing void.

W Hollywood Debut Sold With 'Golden Age' Theme

How do you sell luxury condos in the middle of a real estate crash? With a Depeche Mode street concert.

HOLLYWOOD: Pools of Potential Tenants and Buyers Drying Up

Real Estate Quarterly: Vacancies were below 4 percent during the first quarter.

WESTSIDE: Vacancies Soar as Sublease Space Swamps Market

Real Estate Quarterly: Every segment of the Westside submarket charted double-digit vacancies in the first quarter.

Having Patients Pays Off

Healthcare Communications has a winning prescription in rounding up patients to participate in clinical trials.

COUNTY: First Quarter Piles Up Record Return of Office Space

Real Estate Quarterly: The first three months of 2009 was a bad time for Los Angeles.

Clean Truck Plan On Rocky Road?

A judge is expected to throw up a roadblock in front of key elements of the ports' Clean Trucks Program.

Another Namvar Business Pushed Into Bankruptcy

Brentwood businessman Ezri Namvar's Namco Financial has been forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Supplement Supporter Gets Tenacious About D

Dr. Soram Khalsa wants vitamin D to get more respect.

Friday, April 17

Beverly Hills Bancorp Ends Merger Deal

Beverly Hills Bancorp announced Thursday that its merger agreement with an investment manager has been terminated.

Actors in Tentative Deal

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Screen Actors Guild announced a tentative agreement on Friday that could end a year-long negotiation.

Mattel Reports Loss, Shares Jump

A flurry of sales driven by Barbie's 50th birthday wasn't enough help for Mattel Inc. The company reported a loss of $51 million, or 14 cents a share, during the first quarter.

L.A. City Council Approves Water Rate Hike

Los Angeles businesses, landlords and residents will pay more for water starting June 1 if they don't cut back at least 15 percent on usage under a conservation plan approved Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.

L.A. Jobless Rate Highest Since World War II

L.A. County's jobless rate soared to 11.4 percent in March, the highest level since World War II, according to state figures released Friday morning.

Thursday, April 16

Labor Dept. Fines Maid Service for Contempt of Court

A Gardena housecleaning service has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor after a ruling that the company ignored a court order to pay $4.5 million in back wages and damages to its workers.

Glendale Galleria Owner Files for Chapter 11

General Growth Properties Inc. on Thursday filed the largest real estate Chapter 11 bankruptcy in history, listing debts of $27.3 billion.

Farmers Group Buys 21st Century Car Insurance Unit from AIG

The $1.9 billion deal would make Farmers the nation's third-largest personal lines insurer.

Wednesday, April 15

City Council Approves Oil Terminal at Port

The facility will have initial capacity of 350,000 barrels of oil per day. Storage tanks will hold up to 4 million barrels awaiting distribution to nearby refineries.

Executives at Janitorial Firm Charged in $6.3 Million Workers' Comp Fraud

Two executives with a Sherman Oaks janitorial service company have been arrested, state insurance officials announced late Wednesday.

Paycheck Cut in Half for East West Bank CEO

Dominic Ng, chief executive of East West Bank Corp. in Pasadena, received almost $2.4 million in compensation last year, a 50 percent cut from 2007.

Ryland, KB Home Gain on Sector Stability

Homebuilders surge in early trading Wednesday after an analyst predicted there would be no more mergers in the housing sector.

Tuesday, April 14

Kirkorian May Reset $9 Billion Vegas Deal

Facing his biggest defeat in high-stakes casinos, Kirk Kerkorian is showing a gambler's comeback streak with a possible deal to rescue his celebrated but stalled project on the Las Vegas Strip.

Big Stage Entertainment Secures Venture Funding

Big Stage Entertainment Inc. said it has secured $2.7 million in additional funding from its original investors, bringing the total that the media technology company has raised to $10.6 million.

Image Entertainment Buyer Pays $2.5 Million to Keep Deal Alive

Nyx Acquisitions Inc. has had trouble securing financing; amendment to the merger agreement will extend the deadline to April 20.

Hi-Shear Net Income Rises in Quarter

Hi-Shear Technology Corp. said its third-quarter net income rose 18 percent, largely due to improved efficiencies in manufacturing.

Auction House Reaches Settlement With Jackson

The King of Pop gets to keep his stuff now that the tussle between pop star Michael Jackson and the Los Angeles auction house trying to sell his possessions has finally ended.

Metropolitan Water District to Cut Supplies

Los Angeles-area businesses could face mandatory water conservation measures this summer as the region's water wholesaler voted Tuesday to cut supplies and hike rates for the first time in 18 years.

L.A. Port Activity Picks Up

The Port of Los Angeles saw a 27 percent boost in cargo shipments in March compared to the previous month the first positive news in months amid a bleak outlook for trade in 2009, according to new report.

Mayor Promises Aid to Struggling Small Businesses

In his annual State of the City speech, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised that the city would make $30 million in loans to struggling small businesses and provide assistance to more than 1,000 local businesses as part of a stepped up effort to spur

Monday, April 13

Looks Like Another Year of Staycations for Many

With the economy still on the mat and job anxiety peaking, Angelenos and other Americans are thinking twice about summer travel. That has the travel industry anticipating a summer sequel to last year's recession-driven stay-at-home summer.

California's Latest Debt Sale Defies Academics

California's record $6.5 billion debt sale last month was more successful than that of some other states, in large part because it took advantage of a growing trend toward negotiated deals.

USC Students Score With Angels Campaign Pitch

Three USC water polo players hit a home run with a marketing campaign developed to promote Fox Sports West telecasts of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball.

Positive Charge

L.A. could end up in the driver's seat of the blossoming alternative-fuel vehicle industry.

Malibu Puts Duo Through the Mill For Retail Center

There's a reason why Malibu Lumber Yard is the first commercial project to open in the upscale city since 1989.

Creature Comforts

1933 Group has built a booming business with bars decorated with skunks, angels and Bigfoot signs.

State Finally to Apply Science to Chemicals

Dario Frommer sees the state's Green Chemistry Initiative as a shift to a more comprehensive science-based review of toxic chemicals.

Downtown L.A. Hotels Have Eye On Ritz-y Rival

Korea Air's overhaul of L.A.'s Wilshire Grand is one of several makeovers of downtown hotels.

Maguire Shareholder Plans to Raise Stake

Shares of Maguire Properties spiked sharply on Monday on a report that an investor had filed a request to buy up to a quarter of its preferred shares.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

College Hospitals, which runs psychiatric hospitals in Cerritos and Costa Mesa, has agreed to pay $1.6 million in penalties and charitable contributions over accusations that it sent more than 150 patients to L.A.'s Skid Row over a two-year period.

L.A. Institution Has Big Hopes for Small Business

At a time when many financial institutions are pulling back on their small business lending, one bank decided the time is right to jump in.

Farmers Market Owner Sowing Seeds for New Site

A.F. Gilmore Co., the owner of Farmers Market at West Third Street and Fairfax Avenue, wants to know if there are tenants interested in leasing shops across the street at a center that could be anchored by a 25,000-square-foot space.

Diamond Bar Gets $60 Million to Punt Its NFL Stadium Fight

City of Industry will pay up to $60 million over 30 years for neighboring Diamond Bar to drop its objection to a proposed NFL stadium.

LAX Hotel Agrees to Union Contract

The owners of the Radisson Los Angeles Airport Hotel have agreed to their first contract with the Unite Here Local 11 union, granting workers a $2.3 million boost in wages and expanding the availability of health benefits, union officials and the hotel's

Chaya Brings Centuries of Tradition to Downtown

Chaya makes an energetic move into downtown Los Angeles with Asian-fusion cuisine.

Car designers plugging into surging SoCal scene

The many Southern California car design studios could redraw the look of alternative cars.

Improved State of Competition

Charles Crumpley sees a single-sales tax system in California staving off an exodus of jobs and businesses.

Oprah Winfrey Chooses Home for New Network

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey's newly formed television network has leased space formerly occupied by Variety magazine at Wilshire Courtyard on the Miracle Mile.

Milwaukee Firm Heads to L.A. to Heat Up Business

Out-of-state law firms are moving into the L.A. legal market en masse.

Rubicon Project Adds Venture Funding

The Rubicon Project, an Internet advertising technology company, said that it added $13 million in venture equity and debt funding, bringing total financial investment in the company to $33 million.

Video Games Push All the Right Buttons for CSUN Grad

As a kid, Henrik Markarian loved playing video games, but he never gave the idea of developing his own titles much thought.

Shoring Up Ecological Impact

Prime property in Lake Elizabeth is probably most desirable for its environmental mitigation credits.

Payday Lenders with Ties to Tribes Dodge State Regulators

California business regulators are stumbling in their efforts to find and ban an unlicensed form of high-interest consumer credit: payday loans available on the Internet.

Harbor Commission OKs New Terminal

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a $750 million terminal redevelopment project that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the port.

Healthy Party Pitch

A maker of juice cleanses organizes Tupperware-style parties to pitch the product.

Newsmakers

Brett J. Butler has been named president of Minardos Group, a Santa Monica construction and consulting firm.

Homing In on Discretion

Candy Spelling's plan to sell her $150 million mansion couldn't have been more poorly timed, writes Michael Levine.

Bloodlines

CEO Henry Walker has followed his great-grandfather, grandfather and father into the top spot at Farmers & Merchants Bank.

Time Traveling

The Port of Los Angeles' railcar line offers riders a brief trip into the city's mass-transit past.

Low Interest Rates, Tax Credit Lift March Sales

Low interest rates and a federal tax credit spurred L.A. County home sales in March.

REGIONAL REPORT

Van Nuys-based Flip's Tire Center has received the 2009 Family Business of the Year Award from the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Rate of Reduction

Some attorneys are moving to smaller firms with lower billing rates to keep clients and even bring in new ones.

When Things Are Really Looking Up

Skyscrapers have always held a fascination for local architect Scott Johnson; he's worked on dozens of designs for towers during his 35-year career.

Saturday, April 11

Update: Investor Floats Plan to Complete Las Vegas Project

Dubai World, in an effort to save the troubled City Center development in Las Vegas and its relationship with co-investor MGM Mirage, is proposing the two and their lenders pledge billions still needed to complete the project, according to people familiar

Department of Labor Subpoenas Tribune Co.

The Department of Labor has begun an investigation into Tribune Co.'s employee stock ownership plan, a major piece of Sam Zell's plan to take the parent of the Los Angeles Times private in 2007, the company said in a bankruptcy court filing.

Friday, April 10

Universal, YouTube to Launch Music Video Site

Universal Music Group and YouTube plan to launch an advertiser-supported online music site called Vevo in the next few months in an effort to capture more revenue from the Santa Monica music label's content.

Chamber Supporting Budget Ballot Measures

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce said it has endorsed the six state fiscal reform measures on the May 19 special election ballot.

Earl Scheib Stockholders Approve Merger

Earl Scheib Inc. said that its stockholders have approved its $8 million merger with Kelly Capital LLC.

Trump Sues Developer Over Baja Project

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against a Los Angeles developer that paid to use his name for an oceanfront condominium project in Baja California but then failed to build it.

Thursday, April 9

Red Rock Pictures Acquires Comedy Business

Red Rock Pictures Holdings, Inc. said that it completed its acquisition of the assets of ComedyNet.TV Inc. in a stock deal that also will result in a cash infusion into the company by a new investor.

99 Cents Only Sees Sales Increase

Cost-conscious consumers were good to discount chain 99 Cents Only Stores in its fourth quarter, driving up sales more than 13 percent as shoppers sought out more bargains during the recession.

Update: Driver Who Hit Adenhart Arrested on Suspicion of DUI

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others were killed early Thursday when a minivan driven by an alleged drunk driver broadsided their car after running a red light, authorities said. Police have arrested the driver of the minivan.

Same-Store Sales Slide at American Apparel

American Apparel Inc. said that its same-store sales fell 11 percent in March as overall consumer spending remained weak.

Update: Fake Front Page 'News' Ad at Times Stirs Controversy

The Los Angeles Times came under criticism after it ran a front-page advertisement that resembled a news story. The ad for the NBC drama "Southland" appeared in the left column, starting below the fold and above and beside a banner ad for the television s

National Technical Systems Gets Navy Contract

National Technical Systems Inc. said it had been awarded a nearly $9.6 million contract to provide engineering services and rapid response testing support to a Naval Surface Warfare Center division in Maryland.

Wednesday, April 8

California Pizza Kitchen Boosts Outlook

California Pizza Kitchen Inc. raised its first-quarter earnings forecast, citing higher profit margins due to cost-cutting measures.

Apartment Rents Fall in SoCal

Apartment rents are falling across most of Southern California as unemployed tenants double up with friends or family and the affordability of foreclosed homes makes some renters into buyers, a new survey has found.

Lower Royalty Revenue Hits Cherokee

Cherokee Inc. said a decrease in royalty revenues on its licensed clothing brands led to a 15 percent drop in fourth quarter profits, reflecting slower sales at its customers' retail stores, which include Target and Wal-Mart.

Hot Topic Raises Quarterly Expectations

Hot Topic Inc. raised its first quarter profit target, reporting that same-store sales climbed more than 7 percent in March as the DVD release of the vampire movie "Twilight" boosted sales of licensed items.

Hospitals to Pay $1.6 Million in Skid Row Dumping Case

Two psychiatric hospitals on Cerritos and Costa Mesa sent more than 150 patients to fend for themselves on skid row over a two-year period, according to prosecutors who announced today the largest settlement yet in L.A.'s campaign against patient dumping.

Capstone to Reduce Staff, Expenses

Microturbine maker Capstone Turbine Corp. said that it has eliminated an additional 22 professional positions as it continues to reduce expenses.

Tuesday, April 7

Marciano Throws Hat Into Governor's Race

Businessman and designer Georges Marciano , best-known as co-founder of Guess Inc. , has announced that he is running for governor of California.

Corporate Travel Is in Retreat, Thanks to AIG

Shamed by images of wealthy corporateers cavorting at the expense of ordinary people, U.S. companies canceled an estimated $1 billion worth of conferences in the first two months of this year and trimmed back on others.

Hollywood Revs Up Piracy Push, Aided by 'Wolverine'

The illegal posting of "X- Men Origins: Wolverine" on the Internet last week, a month before News Corp. releases it to theaters, has given studios and their allies in Washington more ammunition to press for federal aid against piracy and highlight the cos

Miramar Hotel Neighbors Drop Caruso Suit

Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso said Tuesday that he and neighbors of the historic Miramar Hotel in Montecito have reached a settlement that should clear the way for redevelopment of the property into a modern upscale resort.

Image Merger Agreement Amended Again

Wall Street sent Image Entertainment Inc. shares up more than a third on Tuesday on new signs that the arduous $100 million acquisition of the Chatsworth home entertainment company by a San Francisco private equity company appeared to be on track.

L.A. County in Crosshairs of Pentagon Shift

Two major military aircraft programs that support thousands of Southern California jobs , including many in the South Bay , could lose their funding if Congress supports Pentagon budget priorities announced Monday.

Monday, April 6

Latino Business Chamber Joins Crowded L.A. Field

A new organization to help Latino businesses in L.A. has entered an already competitive field.

Kentucky-Style Meat and Greet

Andy Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., didn't quite know what to think when the company's research and development team came to him with the idea of a bourbon burger.

Hoteliers Check In to Turnarounds

Area businesses see rooms for improvement by managing or buying up distressed hotels.

Fine-Tuning Background Ambiance

A former DJ tunes up businesses looking for something more appealing than Muzak.

REGIONAL REPORT

RealD, a Beverly Hills provider of digital 3-D technology, has partnered with AMC Entertainment Inc. to add up to 1,500 3-D screens to AMC's circuit in the United States and Canada.

What's in A Name? Money

Work is booming for a local sign maker that handles the name changes for bought-out banks.

Room for Discount

Some hotels are offering an array of discounts including free stays to draw customers.

Career Headed South for Financial Services Executive

Sara Oberlies knew when she was a teenager that she wanted to pursue a job in the public finance sector, so she studied economics and applied statistics at Syracuse University in New York, then went on to earn her master's degree in public sector financia

Has L.A. Finally Had Its Fill?

Charles Crumpley thinks L.A.'s population stagnation means it is time to encourage business growth.

SAG, Studios May Be Close to Reaching Deal

After weeks of back-channel talks, Hollywood's biggest actors union and the major studios appear to have broken their logjam and could be close to striking a deal on a contract, according to people close to the situation.

Taking a Swing

Layoffs in the legal industry have some local attorneys looking far afield to new careers in rock 'n' roll and pro golf.

Hospital Sees Promising Signs With Name Change

Its image tarnished by a Medi-Cal scandal that could send some former executives to prison, the former City of Angels Medical Center was officially rededicated under a new name last week.

Out of the Box

Dick Sittig has bucked ad world tradition by working with only three clients, including Jack-in-the-Box and its popular clown CEO.

A Little Homework by Givers Will Make Charity Better Spent

Antonia Hernandez recommends brushing up on charitable organizations before giving them money.

Terminal Operators Harboring Hopes for Long Beach Expansion

Port terminal operators hope to sell Long Beach officials on a new wave of redevelopment.

Some Work to Do on Unemployment

Work created by the federal stimulus package won't help white-collar and older job-seekers, writes Ted Lux.

Rounding Bend

As bankrupt Santa Anita Park prepares for auction, potential buyers line up to place their bets.

Getting to School Early

Susie Buffett and Molly Munger urge business leaders to ensure that high-quality education begins for kids at an early age.

Pixar's Art Leaves Profit Watchers Edgy

Pixar Animation Studios has never released a movie that was not a commercial and creative triumph, and its 10th feature, "Up," is looking to be no exception , at least artistically. But to the extreme irritation of Walt Disney Co. two important business c

Companies Blow Their Caps Over Pollution Rule

Hundreds of local businesses are steaming mad over a court-imposed freeze on permits issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for new or expanded facilities that add emissions into the atmosphere.

Newsmakers

Howard Kahn has been named chairman of the California Association of Health Plans. Kahn is chief executive of L.A. Care Health Plan.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. will move its Disney Wonder cruise ship to Los Angeles from Florida in 2011 as part of the company's fleet expansion.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Events of interest to Los Angeles' business community.

Cost of Ports' Clean Air Plan Spurs Carrier Union

It's been predicted that the billion-dollar plan by the region's twin ports to clean up their act could lead to consolidation among freight carriers.

Arrowhead Increases Stake in Nanotube Company

Arrowhead Research Corp. said it had agreed to increase its ownership in its majority-owned Unidym Inc. subsidiary through a stock exchange with other Unidym shareholders.

Trustee Sues Former Officials of Payroll Firm

The trustee handling the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Axium International Inc. has sued two former top officials of the defunct Burbank entertainment industry payroll firm, mismanagement and misappropriation of corporate assets after the company changed hands

Company Bankruptcy Includes Array of Properties

The financial troubles of West Millennium Group are casting doubt on the future of several residential projects in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Local Agency to Accent Latin Music Label's Acts

Universal Music Latin Entertainment has signed an agreement with the Axis Agency in West Hollywood to match Latino music celebrities with brand-name products.

Single-Sales Shift Shines Up State

The state's switch to a "single-sales" system could encourage companies to keep or place their facilities in California.

Audits Home In On Real Estate

Declining real estate values and the mark-to-market rule are causing millions of dollars in losses for banks forced to restate earnings.

Social Networking May Pay Off for Business Guide

When MySpace announced a new rating service for small businesses, it was good news for CitySearch.

Local Company Shares Get Downgraded

Wall Street analysts over the weekend gave haircuts to earnings expectations for Los Angeles area companies ranging from Alexandria Real Estate Equities to Walt Disney Co., citing limited near-term upside for shares due to the credit crunch, the ongoing r

Saturday, April 4

KMVN-FM To Turn Spanish-Language

For the second time in less than three months, a local English-language radio station is switching to Spanish-language programming. KMVN-FM, the home of deejay Rick Dees, is handing the microphone over to Grupo Radio Centro on April 15.

Friday, April 3

AIG Subsidiary 21st Century Insurance is Downsizing

AIG subsidiary 21st Century Insurance said it had laid off about 7 percent of its workforce -- nearly 500 workers -- and that it was losing its Long Beach office and three other locations.

Ticketmaster Receives Subpoenas

Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said it has received demands for information from the U.S. Justice Department and other government agencies investigating the company's activities in reselling concert tickets.

Update: Ritz Camera Leaving L.A. Market

Ritz Camera Centers Inc. began liquidating its eight retail stores in Los Angeles County on Saturday, part of the closure of more than 300 stores nationwide in a court-supervised bankruptcy reorganization.

Northrop Settles DOJ Defective Parts Suit

Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed to pay $325 million to resolve allegations it provided and billed the National Reconnaissance Office for defective military satellite parts.

Korean Firm Plans to Redevelop Wilshire Grand

Thomas Properties Group Inc. has been retained by Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. to develop a $1 billion mixed-use project at the current site of the Wilshire Grand Hotel. The project would include the first high-rise office tower built in downtown Los Angeles

Disney Says 1,900 Jobs Eliminated at U.S. Theme Parks

Walt Disney Co., the world's largest theme-park operator, said it eliminated about 1,900 jobs from its Florida and California resorts as part of a reorganization announced in February.

U.S. May Let Rivals Share Tanker Deal

Some leading lawmakers and military analysts are suggesting that splitting a $35 billion contract between Boeing and EADS-Northrop Grumman may be the only way to break an impasse.

The Week's Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed up for the week ended April 3 despite Friday's grim U.S. jobs report. Investors also pushed up the Dow Jones industrial average above 8,000 for the first time in nea

Business Group Makes Council Endorsement

The Central City Association has endorsed former state Assemblyman Paul Koretz in the hotly contested May 19 runoff election on Los Angeles' Westside for the City Council seat being vacated by Jack Weiss.

Thursday, April 2

Countrywide Loses Bid for Suit Settlement

Countrywide Financial Corp. lost a bid to settle a shareholder lawsuit over its $2.5 billion takeover by Bank of America Corp. when a judge ruled the agreement would improperly wipe out some investor claims.

Port Expansion Moves Closer to Passage

The Port of Long Beach is expected to release the final environmental impact report today on a 10-year, $750-million harbor expansion that would accommodate the world's largest ships, reinforce the nation's Pacific Rim trade and create 14,000 permanent lo

Aecom Wins $70 Million Florida Highway Contract

Aecom Technology Corp. said that it has been awarded a five-year, $70-million contract by Dragados USA for design and construction services to upgrade Florida's I-595 highway.

Move's CFO To Leave Company

Move Inc. said Chief Financial Officer Lewis R. Belote III will leave the company later this year, once the operator of real estate Web sites appoints a successor.

Electro Rent Profit Declines

Electro Rent Corp. said that profits had fallen in its third quarter as the economic downturn had slowed the rental, lease, and sales of its electronic equipment and forced the company to cut prices.

THQ Nearly Finished with Cost-Cutting Program

Shares of THQ Inc. jumped 11 percent Thursday after the video game publisher said it had "substantially" completed plans to cut spending by $220 million in the face of lower consumer spending for its products, which includes the "Dawn of War" series.

Wednesday, April 1

Disney Online Acquires Family-Oriented Sites

Disney Online said it has acquired several family online sites from Toronto new media company Kaboose for $18.4 million.

SAG, AFTRA Reach Ad Deal

Negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have reached a tentative three-year deal with the ad industry on a commercials contract, a few hours after the expiration of the current contract.

Tenet Turns Over Hospitals to USC

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has completed the $305 million sale of USC University Hospital and Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital to the University of Southern California.

Disgruntled AIG Shareholder Files Suit in L.A.

In the latest in a series of legal actions taken against beleaguered insurer American International Group Inc., a retired California judge is seeking to recover millions of dollars in executive bonuses on behalf of company shareholders.

Rating Agency Lowers Outlook for Workers Comp Insurer

A.M. Best Co. downgraded its outlook Wednesday for Employers Direct Insurance Co. to "negative" from "stable", reflecting rising medical claims costs that have forced the Thousand Oaks workers' comp insurer to raise its reserves.

One L.A. Real Estate Statistic Not So Bleak

Despite the downturn, the pace of new leases or office expansions in L.A. County barely slowed last year, according to new figures from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

MPAA Stops Disclosing Cost Data

Reversing a long-standing practice, the trade and lobbying arm of the Hollywood studios won't disclose the average costs of making and marketing movies.