Stories for December 2009

Thursday, December 31

Pow! Entertainment Expands Ties with Disney

On the same day Walt Disney Co. took over another company he founded, Stan Lee’s Pow! Entertainment Inc. said that the entertainment giant will take a 10 percent equity stake in the Marvel founder’s latest comic character venture.

This Week’s Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of the 200 largest local public companies closed down 0.17 percent for week ended Dec. 31. Since the beginning of the year, the index has risen nearly 14 percent to 111.54.

Pacific Energy Resources Sells California Assets

Pacific Energy Resources Ltd. said that it had turned over its remaining oil and gas businesses in California to entities formed by its secured lenders.

Update: Disney Acquires Marvel

Walt Disney Co. said it has completed its $4.3 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, owner of an extensive comic character catalog that includes Spider-Man and the X-Men.

Wednesday, December 30

City National Pays Back TARP Money

City National Corp. said that it repurchased half of the $400 million in preferred shares it sold to the U.S. Treasury last year during the TARP bailout of the nation’s financial institutions.

Center Financial Plans Private Placement

Center Financial Corp. said it has entered into agreements with certain institutional investors, insiders and friends of the company for a preferred stock sale it expects will raise $73.5 million.

Netflix vs. the Hollywood Studios

The popular subscription service wants to deliver films directly to your TV or PC. Studio heads are balking,

Preferred Bank to Restate Quarter

Preferred Bank said it will restate its third-quarter results and report a wider loss after a regulatory examination found that additional credit losses and charge-offs should have been taken. But it now expects a fourth quarter profit.

Tuesday, December 29

Northrop Delivers Sub Early

Northrop Grumman Corp. said its shipbuilding unit has delivered to the U.S. Navy its sixth Virginia-class submarine, four months ahead of schedule.

DirecTV May Offer 3D Channel

Satellite TV provider DirectTV plans to launch the first 3D high-definition television channel in the United States early next year, according an industry online blog.

GetFugu Receives Financing Commitment

Mobile search platform developer GetFugu Inc. secured $10 million in funding through a private placement of shares with an Asian institutional investor. It so far has received $800,000 in gross proceeds from the commitment.

Monday, December 28

OneWest Establishes Foundation

OneWest Bank FSB announced the creation of non-profit corporation that will invest in organizations that help build stronger communities in areas served by the bank.

Aecom Wins Canadian Light Rail Contract

Aecom Technology Corp. said that it was awarded a $20-million contract in Canada to provide program management services for a light-rail transit extension in Edmonton, Alberta.

Hythiam's CFO Maurice Hebert Resigns

Hythiam Inc. said in a regulatory filing that Chief Financial Officer Maurice Hebert is resigning from the company as of Jan. 15 to take another job.

Investors Reshape IndyMac

OTHER NEWS

A group of billionaires, hedge-fund managers and ex-Goldman Sachs executives are building a banking empire in California — with assistance from Uncle Sam.

Update: Arrowhead Subsidiary Sells IP Portfolio

Arrowhead Research Corp. of Pasadena said that its Tego Biosciences subsidiary has agreed to sell its intellectual property for fullerenes, which have potential for creating medicines using nanoparticles.

Thursday, December 24

Blueprint for Local Recovery

With Los Angeles County struggling with double-digit unemployment, the Economic Development Corp. released its first-ever strategic plan calling for a more business-friendly environment to spur jobs.

Neighbors Concerned Over Planned Luxury Rehab Center

Plans for a 27-bed West Hollywood rehab center have neighbors demanding to know how a luxury facility offering drug and alcohol treatment to an elite clientele could end up within blocks of one of the city's most famous nightlife scenes.

Disney Chief’s Compensation Dips Slightly

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger received total compensation valued at $29 million this year, according to regulatory filings. That’s about 5 percent less than the $30.6 million he made in 2008.

DoubleLine Gets SEC Approval

DoubleLine LLC has received regulatory permission to be a financial adviser, nine days after being founded by Jeffrey Gundlach, TCW Group Inc.’s former investment chief.

Wednesday, December 23

Facebook Exec. Nominated to Disney’s Board

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been nominated as an independent director of Walt Disney Co. If elected, Sandberg would bring significant social network expertise to the Burbank entertainment giant.

BridgeCo Raises VC Money

Networked entertainment technology developer BridgeCo Inc. said it has raised $7.5 million in a new venture capital round.

SolarReserve Signs Power Contract with PG&E

SolarReserve, a Santa Monica developer of utility-scale solar power projects, said it signed a 25-year agreement to sell electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. from SolarReserve’s proposed Rice Solar Energy Project.

Wrestling Product Dispute Settled

THQ Inc. and JAKKS Pacific Inc. said they will end their joint venture to produce toys and video games based on World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. characters, with THQ entering into a separate agreement with WWE.

Tuesday, December 22

Amgen Resolves Roche Patent Dispute

Amgen Inc. said a U.S. district court issued a final injunction that bars Swiss drug maker Roche Group from selling its anemia drug Mircera in the United States until 2014. The ruling brings to an end a five-year patent infringement dispute.

U.K. Regulators Clear Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger

The proposed merger of Live Nation Inc. and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. has cleared one more hurdle, with the United Kingdom’s antitrust regulators saying they have decided to clear the deal.

Private Equity Firm to Invest in Image

Image Entertainment Inc. said that a San Francisco private equity firm plans to invest up to $30 million in the struggling home entertainment distributor, in a preferred stock deal that will require nearly all of the current board to resign.

ReachLocal Files for IPO

ReachLocal Inc., a Woodland Hills online advertising agency targeting small- to medium-sized business, has filed for a $100 million initial public offering.

Monday, December 21

Image to Fight Delisting

Image Entertainment Inc. said it intends to file an appeal with Nasdaq regulators in hopes of keep the home entertainment distributor from being delisted.

AeroVironment Gets Order to Upgrade Military Drone

AeroVironment Inc. said that it received a $23.9 million order from the Army and Marine Corps to cover upgrades to the company’s Raven Systems unmanned aircraft systems.

National Amusements Closes Theater Sale

Sumner Redstone's family-owned movie theater circuit has closed a deal to unload 29 of the 35 non-core cinema assets it is selling to Rave Cinemas.

Landlords' Pullback Puts L.A. Toy District at Risk

Landlords in downtown L.A.'s Toy District landlords declined to renew the 10-year-old business improvement district, which collects property assessments to pay for trash pickup and security patrols. Some say the district's future is uncertain.

State Puts 2 Downtown L.A. Buildings on the Block

The state of California is selling the Ronald Reagan State Building at Third and Spring streets as part of an effort to make up a $21 billion deficit.

Thomas Properties Announces Stock Sale

Thomas Properties Group Inc. signed an agreement with some institutional investors to sell 5.14 million shares of its common stock, with proceeds to pay down debt. The company also is suspending regular quarterly dividends to conserve money.

Xcorporeal Sells Nearly All of Its Assets

Medical device developer Xcorporeal Inc. said it signed an asset purchase agreement with kidney dialysis company Fresenius USA Inc. to sell substantially all of its assets for $8 million and royalty payment rights.

Picking Up The Pieces

SPECIAL REPORT: Banking & Finance Quarterly

2009’s financial services scene featured a lot of struggles for survival and even a few success stories.

Philadelphia Firm Blooms in Southern California

LAW: Six lawyers join Drinker Biddle’s new office in Century City.

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP has expanded its presence in Southern California with the opening of a Century City office.

Long Beach May Jump Line on Alcohol Sales Ban

City may beat state in restricting use of self-checkout lanes

Long Beach looks to be first in line in the state to ban alcohol sales at market self-checkout stands.

Sporting Goods Investors Can’t Follow Bouncing Ball

Sport Chalet’s heady gains clouded by odd spike and drop.

Sport Chalet may have dropped the ball as its stock has plunged after a previous steady run.

Seasonal Returns

Redondo Beach’s Living Christmas keeps trees alive for repeat holiday usage.

Living Christmas hopes to keep the season’s spirit alive with reusable trees.

Good Cycling Vietnam

PAGE 3

When attorney Dan Grunfeld left his job as deputy chief of staff for policy for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in September, he decided he needed a vacation before starting his new gig with Kaye Scholer LLP.

Rubbed Wrong Way

Hotel Bel-Air files suit over contractor’s work on new spa.

A spa project has been a major source of tension for Hotel Bel-Air.

STOCKED UP

YEAR IN REVIEW: Investors sent shares soaring across sectors

In 2009, hungry investors fueled a surprising stock surge across a variety of companies in Los Angeles.

Accenting Tequila in Los Angeles

Maker of PaQui sees prime market to grow Mexican spirit.

Tequila maker PaQui is taking shots at the L.A. market.

Restaurateur Runs the Tables in Hollywood

Owner to open sixth eatery on one-mile strip.

Hollywood restaurateur George Abou-Daoud has a sixth eatery on the menu.

Demand Media Torpedoes Latest Talk of Acquisition

TECHNOLOGY: CEO says there is no interest in selling firm

Internet media company Demand Media Inc. was the subject of a billion-dollar acquisition rumor last week.

El Segundo Firm Cashes In With a Focus on Change

BANKING & FINANCE: Marlin scoops $650 million despite tough fundraising scene.

Fundraising may be down in the private equity world, but it’s going strong for firms in the right niches.

Some Port Truckers Face End of Year, End of Road

TRADE & TRANSPORT: Many older rigs won’t meet clean air standards kicking in Jan. 1.

It will be an unhappy new year for thousands of truck drivers who work the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with older vehicles: The latest stage of the Clean Trucks Program takes effect Jan. 1, banning as many as 8,000 of their rigs.

Court Toying With Bratz’s Future?

Rulings leave Mattel, MGA both making the dolls.

Rivals Mattel and MGA are both making Bratz dolls thanks to an appeals court ruling that complicated the long-running doll brawl.

2009 Sees Deals Decline and ‘Zombies’ Rise

SPECIAL REPORT: Banking & Finance Quarterly

The drastic drop-off in deals has conjured memories of the dot-com bust.

Tough Lending Market Put Firms in Tight Spots

SPECIAL REPORT: Banking & Finance Quarterly

L.A. firms found it a tough go as stricter lending standards tightened credit markets.

Boutiques Boost Staffs as M&A Activity Grows

SPECIAL REPORT: Banking & Finance Quarterly

Despite a shaky start, merger and acquisition activity picked up as the year progressed.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and a powerful force behind the scenes of Walt Disney Co., died after a yearlong battle with stomach cancer.

L.A. Pecking Order Reshuffles as Banks Shutter

SPECIAL REPORT: Banking & Finance Quarterly

The past year saw several local banks go under and larger national players enter the market.

Retail Center in Glendale Homes In on Condo Deals

REAL ESTATE: Caruso finally sells enough units to open condo complex at Americana.

Though Americana at Brand opened in May 2008, the 100 condos at the mixed-used property developed by Rick Caruso have remained dark. That’s about to change

New Eatery Gets Down To Business

Hansong Buffet offers private rooms to lure Korean clientele.

A new Koreatown buffet is serving up private rooms for the business crowd.

Companies Can Cut Greenhouse Gases and Expenses

OP-ED

Paul Blagbrough writes that businesses can cut greenhouse gases and costs at the same time.

Talking Green, Feeling Blue

COMMENT

Charles Crumpley fears no jobs will grow out of the L.A. mayor’s expansive green plans.

Popeil Home on Block ... But Wait, There’s More!

CHIEF DWELLINGS: Ronco’s TV pitchman seeks $6 million for Beverly Hills mansion.

Ron Popeil’s Beverly Hills mansion is for sale for the low, low price of $5.99 million.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Events of interest to Los Angeles business community.

You Can Take It With You

OP-ED: Holiday dining offers the perfect opportunity to share your leftovers with L.A.’s homeless people.

John T. Boal urges Angelenos to share their holiday dining leftovers with L.A.’s homeless.

Saturday, December 19

West L.A. Event Producer Looks North for Expansion

ACQUISITION: Canon buys Canadian plastics and packaging shows.

Event producer Canon Communications LLC has acquired three Canadian trade shows in the plastics and packaging industries.

Friday, December 18

FirstFed Fails; Among L.A.’s Oldest and Biggest Lenders

Unable to repair a loan portfolio filled with billions of dollars in decaying adjustable-rate mortgages, FirstFed Financial Corp., one of L.A.’s oldest and largest financial institutions, was closed by federal and state regulators.

Update: City National Buys Failed La Jolla Bank

City National Bank has regained its status as the largest local bank by acquiring the assets of Imperial Capital Bank, a La Jolla institution closed by regulators. Shares jumped 15 percent on the first trading day after the announcement.

Wednesday, December 16

Roy Disney Dies of Cancer

Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and a powerful force behind the scenes of Walt Disney Co. who campaigned for the ouster of two chief executives, has died at age 79.

PC Mall Buys Assets

PC Mall Inc. said that one of its units had acquired certain assets of Data Systems Worldwide Inc.

PR Firms to Merge

The union combines PMK/HBH, one of Hollywood's biggest celebrity public relations agencies, with BNC, a firm that has specialized in corporate clients. The new agency will be named PMK-BNC.

Tuesday, December 15

Exports Up at Ports

A weaker dollar drove up exports at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November, according to new figures, but overall traffic remained down.

Rentech Loss Widens

Rentech Inc. said that its fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened, hurt by lower fertilizer shipments and lower corn prices in the weak economy. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations.

Guess Co-founder in Financial Difficulty

Guess co-founder Georges Marciano is poised to lose an empire worth as much as $500 million because he is convinced that some employees stole from him.

Image Entertainment Defaults

Image Entertainment Inc. said that it defaulted on a $4 million payment, moving the company closer to a possible Chapter 11 reorganization.

Monday, December 14

KB Home Dropped from S&P 500

Standard & Poor's Inc. announced a reshuffling of its S&P 500 Index, dropping beleaguered Los Angeles homebuilder KB Home and two other companies from the influential equity benchmark.

Gundlach Forms New Investment Firm

Jeffrey Gundlach, the star investment manager ousted from TCW Group in a shakeup earlier this month, said he has formed a new firm whose backers include Oaktree Capital Management. The firm’s leaders look to lure away many of their former TCW clients.

Cereplast Receives Additional Funding

Cereplast Inc., a manufacturer of bio-based, sustainable plastics, said that it closed a $2.23 million private placement.

Alarcon Proposes Film Commission

With Los Angeles still strugging to stem runaway production, City Councilman Richard Alarcon has proposed creating a film commission that would promote the city to the entertainment industry.

Disney Toys Get Pixar Animation Guru's Touch

John Lasseter champions better-quality merchandise that stays true to the films.

Marlin Equity Raises Third Private Equity Fund

Marlin Management Company LLC said it closed a new $650 million institutional private equity fund that will invest in businesses “undergoing varying degrees of operational, financial or market driven change,” such as restructuring or bankruptcy.

Held Up

LACMA wants delayed ‘Train’ to roll; critics say it’s off track.

A proposed suspended-train artwork at LACMA may be left hanging by funding issues.

Allegations Skewer CEO of Lampoon

ENTERTAINMENT: Durham surprised by FBI raid on offices.

The CEO brought in to straighten out National Lampoon has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

Local Firms Make Case for Discounts

LEGAL: Alternative fee panels help clients cut big legal bills.

Some local law firms are courting clients with alternative fee arrangements.

Fixture Makers Must Get the Lead Out

PLUMBING: Suppliers benefit by going with the flow.

An L.A. maker of plumbing fixtures literally got the lead out to meet a state deadline.

Looking For Some Momentum

Venice startup hopes to roll up sales for its foldable skateboard.

The maker of a foldable, skateboardlike product says the “stowboard” is the wheel deal.

Cracks at Comedy Store

Pauly Shore files suit over brother’s control of Sunset Strip venue.

Comic actor Pauly Shore is in a serious feud with his brother over the Comedy Store.

Moral Victory

Mount St. Mary’s puts a premium on ethics for its first M.B.A. grads.

Mount St. Mary’s believes its first class of M.B.A.s has an edge over other business grads.

Father and Son Make Camp Their Cause

PAGE 3

Larry Kurzweil has made a big push for charity work since he became president of Universal Studios Hollywood 10 years ago.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Film Department Holdings Inc., an independent film finance and production company, plans to go public in an initial public offering that backers hope will raise $85 million to $100 million.

Holed Up

DEVELOPMENT: South L.A. projects languish as developer is linked to pension fund scandals. CIM denies any wrongdoing.

The developer of South L.A. projects has come under scrutiny for its use of pension fund money.

Smaller Film Studio Hopes to Pounce on MGM

ENTERTAINMENT: Shares in Lions Gate have climbed on takeover talk.

Lions Gate investors have roared with approval over the company’s interest in buying MGM.

L.A. Law Firms Contend Celeb Clients Fit the Bill

LEGAL: Collection efforts under way against rapper, rocker and video maker.

Some L.A. law firms have ramped up bill collection efforts against celeb clients.

Biotech Stock Gets Shot in Arm From Drug Tests

HEALTH CARE & BIOTECH: Shares of West L.A.’s CytRx rise on positive news from FDA.

Public companies in Los Angeles that tumbled into penny stock territory during the recession can look to CytRx Corp. as an example of how there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

Luxury Ship Hopes to Float Homebuyer’s Boat

RESIDENTIAL: Local firm gambles on return of high rollers.

Utopia is homing in on customers who want to live on a luxury ship.

Audio Tech Firm Sees Sound Strategy in Blu-ray

SOUND: Shares rise for Calabasas’ DTS as demand for new disc players grows.

The picture looks bright for the Calabasas maker of audio technology for Blu-ray disc players.

Dodgers Offer Some Suite Deals for 2010 Season

SPORTS BUSINESS: Team will also offer more low-price ticket packages.

The Los Angeles Dodgers next year will make the ticket-buying experience for companies a more recession-friendly one.

Soda Company Making Four-Packs for Pharmacies

MANUFACTURING: Reed’s will also double capacity for more private-label beverages.

People who drink Reed’s Ginger Brew have long been telling Chris Reed that his beverage cures what ails them.

Hispanic Female Ad Exec Looks to Nurture Her Peers

ADVERTISING & PR: Owner of Power Media to set up incubator in Santa Clarita.

Patricia Gracia, owner of ad agency Power Media Group in Santa Clarita, plans to open a business incubator for Hispanic women-owned businesses that can benefit from her savvy in the Latino market.

REGIONAL REPORT

Agoura Hills-based video game publisher and developer THQ Inc. has selected Montreal as the site of its new development studio.

Going Against Type

PROFILE: Hamilton Chan turned to online services to boost business at his family’s Hollywood print shop.

Turnaround: Hamilton Chan turned to Internet services to help his family’s Hollywood print shop.

Marketing Executive Keeps Things Social on Internet

FEATURED NEWSMAKER

For Julie Spira, the Internet is all about connecting.

NEWSMAKERS

The Hollywood Entertainment District Business Improvement District has named Jim McPartlin to its board and Thaddeus Smith president.

Video Game Maker Buttons Up El Segundo Site

REAL ESTATE: South Korea’s Nexon signs five-year deal valued at $4.4 million.

A South Korean video game company is moving from Koreatown to Class A digs in El Segundo to get closer to the airport.

Restaurateur Hungry to Lock Up Mansion Buyer

CHIEF DWELLINGS: Saddle Ranch chain founder cuts price by almost two-thirds.

Listings and sales of elite L.A. executive homes.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Events of interest to Los Angeles' business community.

L.A. Live Closes In on Times Square

COMMENT

Charles Crumpley marvels at AEG’s success in turning L.A. Live into the center of Los Angeles.

Jumping Through Hoops

OP-ED: UCLA’s drive for a new basketball arena is reaping dollars at the expense of longtime loyal fans.

Ted Lux believes UCLA has dropped the ball in its fundraising drive for a revamped basketball arena.

Small Business Loan Program in Need of Fuel

OP-ED

Luis Vasquez-Ajmac fears lawmakers will let the SBA 7(a) loan program languish.

Over-the-Counter Culture

OP-ED: Law enforcement campaigns against medical marijuana is rooted in a dated vision of drug dangers.

Ron Shinkman thinks claims about the dangers of drugs are overblown.

Room to Grow

INTERVIEW: S. Gail Goldberg, who attended college in her 40s, has become an advocate for transit-based development as L.A. city’s planning director.

L.A. City Planning Director S. Gail Goldberg launched her career in her 40s after the sudden death of her husband.

Tuesday, December 8

Revolution Capital Makes First Acquisition

Revolution Capital Group announced a definitive agreement to acquire Dove Professional Apparel, a San Diego manufacturer of medical uniforms for the health care and educational industries.

Monday, December 7

New Marching Orders

Shoemaker hopes to give the U.S. Army a chic brand name.

A local shoe and bag maker is gearing up to deploy a line of U.S. Army-branded products.

SBA Loans Evaporate for Area Firms

LENDING: Numbers confirm that banks really are stingy.

Business owners have seen SBA loans dry up as banks have shifted their lending focus.

Big Landlord To Lighten Up

REIT: Maguire seeks to shed more properties.

Maguire Properties’ CEO has made shedding buildings a priority.

L.A. Beefs Up

BURGER: High-Priced Eateries Serve Up Burger Boom

L.A. restaurateurs have been beefing up their upscale burger offerings.

Drop Off Your Car at One Valet, Pick Up at Another

VALET: Sidebar

A potential L.A. City Council measure aims to drive upstart valets out of business.

Will It Be Feast or Famine for L.A.’s New Upscale Eateries?

BURGER: Sidebar

L.A. restaurateurs have been beefing up their upscale burger offerings.

L.A. Puts Valets In the Hot Seat

VALET: Regulation looms for free-wheeling industry.

A potential L.A. City Council measure aims to drive upstart valets out of business.

Too Tempting To Pass Up

High-end chocolate shops see brisk sales despite recession.

Sales remain sweet for artisan chocolate shops.

Spirit Of Giving

L.A. accounting firm redirects holiday party funds to charities.

The L.A. office of PricewaterhouseCoopers has axed its holiday party and instead will donate to charities.

Taking a Shine to Hollywood

PAGE 3

John Peterson is celebrating an important anniversary.

Real Estate Index Has Bad News for L.A. Banks

BANKING & FINANCE: Threat of defaults overshadowed all sectors in third quarter.

A bad situation for local banks is rapidly getting worse.

Litigator Heads to Court Against His Own Firm

LAW: Attorney claims Seyfarth Shaw punished him over celebrity case.

Attorney William Lancaster is suing Seyfarth Shaw LLP, claiming the law firm stripped him of his equity partnership status after alleged slip-ups in a case involving celebrity martial arts instructor Billy Blanks.

Publisher of Video Games Backtracks on Film Licenses

TECHNOLOGY: THQ says DreamWorks deal will help fund original titles.

Executives at video game publisher THQ Inc. have said they want the Agoura Hills-based company to develop fewer games based on movie licenses and more from original content.

REGIONAL REPORT

Hythiam Inc., a West L.A.-based health management services firm, has received a letter from Nasdaq granting Hythiam’s request to remain listed on the board.

Secret Agent

INTERVIEW: Stephen Shapiro became a trusted residential broker for wealthy and celebrity clients through his discretion and behind-the-scenes problem-solving.

Residential broker Stephen Shapiro makes sure to keep his high-net-worth clients free from stress.

November Sales, Median Home Price Slighty Dip

HOME SALES: Some area brokers say county market has yet to find bottom.

L.A. County sales volume and median home price dipped slightly in November.

Area Building Continues to Channel TV Tenants

REAL ESTATE: Reality show producer inks $5.5 million deal in North Hollywood.

Pacific Coast Capital Partners LLC has another headquarters tenant for its 12020 Chandler Blvd. office building in North Hollywood.

Scraping Skies, Hitting Bottom

Charles Crumpley writes that Dubai should have seen the bust built into its high-rise hubris.

Los Angeles Needs to Get in Gear on ‘Bicycle Boulevard’

Richard Risemberg is peddling an interesting notion: Turn Fourth Street into a dedicated bicycle boulevard.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Comcast Corp. has agreed to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal in a deal valued at $13.8 billion.

Funny Formula

ENTERTAINMENT: Levity Entertainment’s management methods helped turn ventriloquist Jeff Dunham into a Comedy Central star.

Jeff Dunham’s success proves manager Levity Entertainment is nothing to laugh at.

Dubai? No, Condo Glut’s Stalling Grand Avenue

DEVELOPMENT: Doubts about financing add to real estate project’s problems.

Dubai’s financial woes are only part of the bad news for the languishing Grand Avenue project.

Gas Company Says There’s No Alternative to L.A.

TRADE & TRANSPORT: Seal Beach firm fills up its hottest market with 17 stations.

L.A.’s thirst for energy is pumping the growth of alternative fuel – and that has the industry’s leading provider hoping to burn it up here.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Events of interest to Los Angeles business community.

Step in the Right Direction

John T. Boal sees one large, unified fundraising walk as a shoo-in in Los Angeles.

Thursday, December 3

City National Raising Money

City National Corp., headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, said late Thursday that it is selling $250 million of trust preferred securities due in 2040, some of which might be used to pay back government bailout funds.

THQ to Expand in Montreal

THQ Inc. said late Thursday that it will open up a new video game development studio in Montreal, Quebec that will employ more than 400 people.

Marvel Sets Date for Disney Vote

Marvel Entertainment Inc. said its shareholders would vote Dec. 31 on whether to approve its $4 billion acquisition by Walt Disney Co.

UTi Worldwide’s Quarter Pleases Wall Street

Shares of UTi Worldwide Inc. jumped 12 percent Thursday after the Long Beach logistics company reported higher-than-expected third quarter revenue. Its profit was 52 percent lower than a year earlier but still in line with analysts’ expectations.

NBC Universal Deal Unveiled

After months of negotiation, Comcast Corp. said Thursday it plans to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal for $13.8 billion in a deal with significant implications for Los Angeles’ entertainment industry.

Wednesday, December 2

Xirrus Raises $20 Million in Venture Round

Wi-Fi systems maker Xirrus Inc. said that it has secured an additional $20 million in a financing round led by InterWest Partners. The round brings total investment in the company to $80 million.

KRTH-FM Moves to Top

Classic hits station KRTH-FM (101.1) jumped to No. 1 in November, taking the top radio spot from pop music station KIIS-FM (102.7).

THQ, DreamWorks Sign Games Licensing Deal

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and video game developer THQ Inc. said that they had signed a multi-year licensing deal covering three Dreamworks animation franchises.

Center Financial Makes Private Placement

Center Financial Corp. said that it completed a private placement of 3.36 million new shares of common stock, with gross proceeds of $12.8 million.

Tuesday, December 1

Former East West Bank Executive Returns

East West Bancorp Inc. said late Tuesday that former senior executive Julia Gouw would return to the company as chief operating officer, helping with the integration of the bank’s major new acquisition.

Hotel Bel-Air Divests Furnishings

The plush furnishings of the Hotel Bel-Air, which is undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation, will be offered up to the public in a liquidation sale this week.

Former East West Bank Executive Returns

East West Bancorp Inc. said that former senior executive Julia Gouw would return to the company as chief operating officer, helping with the integration of the bank’s major new acquisition.

Northrop May Drop Out of Tanker Competition

Northrop Grumman Corp. informed the U.S. Defense Department that it may not bid on a $40 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract, which would leave arch rival Boeing Co. as the sole bidder.

Hotel Bel-Air Divests Furnishings

The plush furnishings of the Hotel Bel-Air, which is undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation, will be offered up to the public in a liquidation sale this week.

Jacobs Wins $99 Million FAA Contract

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. said that it received a contract to provide design services to the Federal Aviation Administration.