Stories for March 2009

Tuesday, March 31

Loan Deal for Spielberg Is Near

The credit crunch means that even a superstar director has to accept some pretty stiff financial terms to fund his new studio's productions.

Disney Becomes Largest Media Company After Time Warner Spinoff

Time Warner Inc.'s spinoff of its cable division has dropped the owner of Time magazine and Warner Bros. to third place among U.S. media companies based on sales, behind Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.

Skechers Expands Brand Into Glasses

Skechers USA Inc. has become the second Los Angeles-area fashion line this month to expand its trendy brand into the world of designer eyewear.

MySpace Unveils New Business Service

MySpace, the Beverly Hills-based social networking site, unveiled a new service Tuesday that will allow users to rate and review local businesses and share that information with friends.

Private Equity Groups Buy Local P & G; Division

An acquisition company backed by two local private equity firms said Tuesday it has acquired a Procter & Gamble Co unit in Woodland Hills that specializes in African American hair care products.

Update: SAG's Ad Talks Stretch Out

Negotiations between Madison Avenue and actors may be headed into overtime, with bargaining continuing a few hours before the commercials contract expires.

Physicians Formula Slips to Loss

Physicians Formula Holdings Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss because of declining sales and a large impairment charge.

Monday, March 30

Actors' Ad Pact Expires Tuesday

Madison Avenue's going down to the wire with SAG and AFTRA, as weekend talks continued ahead of Tuesday's contract expiration date.

Fitting In Perfectly

DAP Worldwide hires the disabled to package its earplug products.

Institution Starting Up Despite Sector's Downturn

With $20 million in capital and 15 full-time employees, California General Bank became the first bank to launch in Southern California this year when it opened with William Hawkins at the helm.

Mergers & Acquisitions Report February 2009

For the third consecutive month, the volume of deals in the Los Angeles mergers and acquisitions market dropped to previously unseen lows, with just 43 transactions announced in February.

Newsmakers

Chris Lewis has been named senior vice president and regional private banking manager in the downtown L.A. office of Wells Fargo Private Bank.

The Business of Gender

Women execs are still under-represented in boardrooms despite their connection to increased profits, writes Peter H. Griffith.

Sean Moriarty Resigns from Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said that Sean Moriarty, chief executive of its Ticketmaster division, had left the company effective last Tuesday.

Update: Local Companies Secure Financing Deals

In another sign that the corporate credit crunch is easing, Los Angeles-area companies ranging from shopping mall operator Macerich Co. to toymaker Mattel Inc. have announced refinancing of debt and credit facilities, albeit on tougher terms.

Give Port Truckers a Break Already

Charles Crumpley feels the Port of Los Angeles and Mayor Villaraigosa should lay off small truck operators.

One Spoon for You!

Darren Ross worries that some businesses and their employees are forgetting to put the customer first.

Businesses Fear Big Losses From Sales Tax Hikes

Merchants fear upcoming spikes in sales taxes will drive off customers or force businesses to absorb the hikes.

Teen Entrepreneurs Build on Foundation

A foundation's entrepreneur course is inspiring local teens to launch ventures.

Unleashed

CB Richard Ellis Group's Lewis Horne came to L.A. with a plan to launch a pet store chain.

Govenor Seeks to Delay Service Station Regulation

Responding to industry pleas, Gov. Schwarzenegger has asked state air regulators to postpone for at least six months a regulation requiring gas station owners to upgrade their pumps and gas pipes,

Moving Images

Cell phone messaging has a different look courtesy of Mogreet's videos.

Update: Disney Signs YouTube Deal; Moves Cruise Ship to L.A.

Walt Disney Co. said has signed an agreement with YouTube to distribute its content on the the popular video-sharing service. In separate news, the Burbank entertainment giant plans to relocate its Disney Wonder cruise ship to Los Angeles from Florida as

Fraiche Brings Fashionable Dining to Culver City

Fraiche serves up some fashionable dining in Culver City.

Dodgers Not Such a Big Hit With Some Sponsors

The Dodgers signed a sponsorship deal with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. But the team lost its deals with Centinela Freeman Hospital Medical Center and California Pizza Kitchen.

Calendar & Events

Events of interest to Los Angeles' business community.

Regional Report

Bellator Fighting Championships, a West L.A.-based producer of mixed martial arts competitions, and Spanish-language sports channel ESPN Deportes have announced a sponsorship agreement with Ford Motor Co.

Angelenos Not Lonely in Lone Star State

If you wanted to find the cream of the L.A. tech community a couple of weeks ago, you didn't need to look farther than Austin, Texas?

Law Firm Likes Current Landlord's Argument

Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP has decided to stay in its Century City headquarters in one of the biggest office deals so far this year in Los Angeles.

Can Platinum Equity Turn Newspapers Into Gold?

Platinum Equity thinks it may be able to press some profits from the San Diego Union-Tribune, which it bought recently.

Seeing How the Other Half Lives

Alvaro Huerta notes that the upper classes are getting financial assistance without the usual criticism attached to aid given the working poor.

That Lived-In Look

Designer Home Tending lines up tenants to give for-sale homes a lived-in look.

Event Producer Partners Up to Cut Tech, Food Costs

Bolthouse Productions, the L.A. event company known for producing high-profile happenings has formed a joint venture with El Segundo's Vox Entertainment.

In Search Of Some Sizzle

A local firefighter hopes sales heat up for his Original Firemans Brew beers and ale.

2008 Brought Brutal Cuts To Ad Firms, PR Agencies

Last year was devastating for the ad business nationwide, and Los Angeles didn't escape the carnage.

Update: Karatz Pleads Not Guilty

Former KB Home Chief Executive Bruce Karatz has pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges that he secretly backdated stock options to enrich himself, then concealed the scheme from regulators and investors.

Boutique Sees Healthy Addition With New Partner

Hooper Lundy & Bookman Inc., which specializes in health law, has added partner Charles Oppenheim, who brings expertise in health care fraud to the firm.

Anderson Forecast Tries to Clear Clouds From Its Crystal Ball

UCLA Anderson Forecast sees the recession lingering in L.A. County because of a reliance on global trade.

Something Cooking

A pair of former MySpace execs are hoping to hatch money-making Web sites for News Corp.

Tax May Feed Unemployment

State lawmakers may raise taxes on unemployment insurance, which ironically could force some businesses to lay off employees.

North American Scientific to Sell Last Product

North American Scientific Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month, said it has agreed to sell its last remaining product line, a breast cancer treatment, to an affiliate of the Northern California private equity firm that is its largest sha

News of the Week

Tesla Motors Inc., a Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-end electric cars, said it will build its new all-electric sedan at a yet-to-be-announced location in Los Angeles County.

Magic Touch?

An Indiana playboy says he's serious about reviving National Lampoon's comedy brand.

IndyMac Coverage Earns Recognition

Richard Clough of the Business Journal has won national recognition for his reporting on the demise of IndyMac Bancorp.

Embattled Businessman Traded on Family Name

Embattled businessman Ezri Namvar is thought of as shy and quiet in his Persian Jewish community but also as a shrewd negotiator.

Friday, March 27

This Week's Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed up for the week ended March 27. Investors remained cautiously upbeat about the economy as the market rallied earlier in the week, but moderated the gains by taking p

KB Home Significantly Narrows Quarterly Loss

KB Home on Friday surprised Wall Street by reporting that its first quarter net loss had decreased 78 percent from a year ago as the homebuilder continued to cut costs, take fewer write-downs and promote its lower cost models.

Beleaguered Lions Gate Cuts Workforce

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which is in the middle of a shareholder battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, is cutting 8 percent of its workforce, according to a wire service report.

MGM Makes Payment for Vegas Project

CityCenter, an $8 billion Las Vegas project owned by MGM Mirage and Dubai World, won a reprieve when the casino company controlled by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian committed $200 million to allow construction to continue.

Disney's U.S. Theme Parks Cutting Jobs

Walt Disney Co. has cut an undisclosed number of workers at its domestic parks this month in a previously announced plan to consolidate behind-the-scenes operations for Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.

Maguire Sells OC Office Building to Tenant

Maguire Properties Inc. said it completed the sale of a large Irvine office building to Botox maker Allergan Inc., which occupies the site.

Gibson Dunn Law Firm Announces Layoffs

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP said it has laid off 36 support staff workers across the firm's nine offices in response to the declining demand for legal services.

Thursday, March 26

Lions Gate Board to Stay Neutral on Tender Offer

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. said its board had decided to adopt a "neutral" stance toward a $325 million bond tender offer from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, but warned that a change in control of the company could cause a debt default.

Ports' Economic Storm May Calm by Year's End

An economist's outlook is a bright spot at the annual Pulse of the Ports conference sponsored by the Port of Long Beach. Even so, some warn that Los Angeles and Long Beach are at risk of losing their competitive edge to other ports in the U.S. and Canada.

Theaters Race to Upgrade to 3-D for DreamWorks Film

Theater owners, slowed by funding delays that have hampered the adoption of 3-D technology, raced to complete upgrades for this weekend's opening of "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Update: Las Vegas Project Weighs Bankruptcy

MGM Mirage, controlled by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, has hired counsel for a possible bankruptcy filing by a key $8.6 billion resort and casino development in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.

Ripple TV Closes $4 Million VC Round

Ripple Networks Inc., a digital television company with screens in retail outlets, said it raised $4 million in venture capital funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Trinity Ventures.

Business Group Make Election Recommendations

The Valley Industry and Commerce Association has voted to support five of the six state budget reform measures on the May special election ballot.

Tesla to Build Electric Cars in L.A. Area

Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk announced Thursday that the Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-end electric cars will build its new all-electric sedan in Los Angeles County.

Billboard Ordinance Goes to City Council

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has endorsed an overhaul of the city's billboard law that bans digital billboards in most areas of the city and puts restrictions on building-covering supergraphics.

Skechers Expands in South America

Casual shoemaker Skechers USA Inc. said it has established a new subsidiary in Chile that will become the base its South American distribution.

AIG Aircraft Unit Says Fed Approves Financing

The New York Federal Reserve has signed off on American International Group Inc.'s latest cash infusion for its Los Angeles aircraft leasing unit, a lifeline aimed at keeping it in business until it can be sold.

Meruelo Maddux Files Chapter 11

Struggling downtown L.A. landlord Meruelo Maddux Properties said it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing severe cash flow problems.

Wednesday, March 25

L.A. Council Backs Incentives for Film Industry

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved a package of financial incentives aimed keeping and attracting film production.

CB Richard Ellis Renegotiates Credit Agreements

International commercial real estate services giant CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., which has been thrashed by the dismal real estate market and prolonged credit freeze, has gotten a break from its bankers.

Poor Economy Hits Orders at Ameron International

Ameron International Corp. said its first quarter net income dropped by more than 60 percent primarily due to falling demand for steel rebar and other construction products.

Unico Profit Grows Despite Revenue Drop

Unico American Corp. reported higher fourth quarter net income even as the property and casualty insurer declined to cut its rates to match competitors, leading to a decline in revenue.

Image Again Extends Merger Deadline

Image Entertainment Inc. said it has given Nyx Acquisitions Inc. until April 6 to finalize its $60.2 million acquisition of company, but demanded its suitor turn over $1 million from a trust fund to compensate for the repeated delays.

Forecast Sees Lingering Recession

California's economy is now "running on fumes" and will likely be sputtering well into next year, according to the latest quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

CKE Beats Profit Expectations in Quarter

CKE Restaurants Inc. said its fourth quarter net income surged despite a small fall in revenue, as the fast food restaurant operator offset rising operating costs with a reduction in interest expenses.

AIG Aircraft Unit May Need More Financing

American International Group's aircraft leasing unit may need additional financing from its cash-strapped parent or a third party to meet its obligations, the Los Angeles company said in a regulatory filing.

LeisureLink Completes $6.2 Million Venture Round

LeisureLink Inc, which sells revenue management software to vacation timeshares and other specialty lodging companies, said it closed the first tranche of a $6.2 million equity investment round, led by two Southern California venture firms.

AMA Sues WellPoint Over Database

The American Medical Association is suing another large health insurer over what it claims was a scheme to underpay doctors for out-of-network medical claims.

Tuesday, March 24

NFL Gets Sweeter Sunday Deal From DirecTV

The National Football League said it extended the deal that enables DirecTV Group Inc. to broadcast out-of-market Sunday afternoon football games through 2014. While financial terms were not announced, media reports say the agreement will be worth $4 bill

Joe's Jeans to Restate Three Quarters

Joe's Jeans Inc. said it will restate its first three financial quarters from last year and delay filing its annual report so it can revise the accounting treatment of its 2007 acquisition of JD Holdings Inc. The revisions will lower the company's earning

Unico American Names New CEO

Unico American Corp. said its board has elected Cary L. Cheldin its chairman and chief executive, effective April 1.

Charney Buys American Apparel Shares

After American Apparel Inc. struck a refinancing deal to potentially sell shares for $2 each, company founder Dov Charney bought shares at prices above $3, according to regulatory filings. Prior to this, Charney hadn't bought or sold a single share since

Unemployment Insurance Crisis Looms

Amid much self-congratulation about bipartisan cooperation, the California Assembly voted 76-0 to allow the federal government to extend unemployment insurance benefits by up to 20 weeks. But there's no such unanimity on what to do about the vaporization

Lawyers Surround Britney Spears

At least $2.7 million in attorneys' fees and costs have been paid since a judge ruled entertainer Britney Spears was not competent to manage her life and music empire, court papers show.

Monday, March 23

Newsmakers

Heery International, an architecture, engineering and construction management firm based in Atlanta, has promoted Robert T. Chomiak to manager of the west region in its Los Angeles office.

Special Report: Break With Tradition

Traditionally conservative lending standards have not prevented credit unions from feeling recession's sting.

L.A. Politicians, Businesses Need to Focus on Creating Jobs

The city of Los Angeles as well as local businesses need to put the focus on creating jobs, says Rick Caruso.

Northrop Wins Korean Contract

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it received a contract from Doosan DST Co., a Korean military contractor, to supply navigation units for South Korea's new K21 infantry fighting vehicle.

Making Cut With Attorneys

Hair salon Studio DNA courts lawyers with a monthly night of discounts and drinks.

Recession In Spotlight

Two radio reporters are getting theatrical about news stories on the mortgage crisis.

News of the Week

The Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau is recommending a 24 percent increase in basic workers' compensation insurance rates, effective July 1. If approved by state insurance regulators, the increase would likely lead to a huge jump in employer

More on the Floor

Trade shows that take a regional focus have seen a surge in attendance and booths.

Conspicuous Consumption

Greed is good but it could be better, writes Ron Shinkman.

Downtown L.A. Agency Ties Pay to Performance

Michael Migliozzi, former partner at downtown L.A. ad agency Cesario Migliozzi, is going solo with Forza Migliozzi LLC, which will forego all creative fees for any campaign that doesn't increase sales by 10 percent.

Clothing Chain Hitting Vein With Bet on Vampire Film Tie-In

Sales at Hot Topic clothing stores have risen from the dead courtesy of a tie-in with vampire film "Twilight."

Corporate Cousins Hit by Substantial Losses

Wholesale credit unions that provide loans to retail credit unions have sustained substantial losses.

Curbing Rush to Punishment

Charles Crumpley fears the public's impulse to punish business leaders has gotten out of hand.

Getting Taken To Cleaners

An eco-minded L.A. couple is cleaning up with sales for its reusable garment bags.

Hospital, Employees Set To Undergo Seismic Shift

More than 4,000 staff and volunteers have been memorizing maps and running drills for weeks in preparation for next week's relocation of Kaiser Permanente to a new, higher-tech home

Investors Pursuing Deals With Triple Net Leases

A Del Taco restaurant in Lancaster has traded hands for $2.25 million. That March 11 sale may be a small deal, but it represents a big trend for property buyers.

In Hollywood, the Easy-Money Generation Toughens Up

In the Universal City bungalow offices that house Steven Spielberg's newly formed DreamWorks Studios, the swagger is suddenly being dialed back a notch or two.

Veteran Says Industry Suffering 'Collateral Damage'

Bill Cheney, chief of California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, defends his industry amid the economic downturn.

Fraud Lawsuits Accumulating Against Namvar

Some complaints filed against Ezri Namvar accuse the bankrupt businessman of fraud and theft.

THQ Calling 'Game Over' for Three of Its Studios

THQ Inc. announced its latest round of cuts as the struggling video game publisher continues to try to right the ship.

Former Yahoo Exec to Bolster 'Hero' Franchise

Activision Blizzard Inc. said it hired Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo's former chief operating officer, to head the unit that developed its popular Guitar Hero franchise and an upcoming "DJ Hero" game.

Switching Into Higher Gear

Three years ago, environmental attorney David Cranston didn't even own a bicycle. Now he's going for the gold.

Smaller Institutions Thrive Through Tight Focus

Credit unions with small memberships place premium on service and personal connections.

Cogent Systems Announces Major U.K. Contract

Cogent Systems Inc. on Monday it was awarded a contract to provide services to Post Office Ltd. in the United Kingdom. The initial contract is valued at $60 million dollars over a five-year period.

LAX Operator Reaches Lease Deal With United

Los Angeles World Airports has settled a four-year dispute with its biggest tenant, United Airlines.

Regional Report

Downtown L.A.-based commercial real estate services firm Charles Dunn Co. has announced the formation of the Restructuring Services Group, which will address distressed real estate needs and will provide asset evaluation, client consultation, and asset an

SoCal Hookup?

Silicon Valley electric car maker Tesla is mulling a southern shift as it eyes L.A. County sites for a new plant.

Glossy Future

Newsways hopes to grab customers from magazine delivery rivals that sought to raise costs.

'Closed' a Sign of Times for Boutiques

Boutique shops are suffering more than other stores, as any visitor to the popular Montana Avenue retail strip in Santa Monica can see.

Credit Check

Of L.A.'s five largest credit unions, two had substantial losses in 2008.

Teledyne Wins Navy Glider Contract

Teledyne Technologies Inc. said that the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command had awarded a contract for design and construction of gliders and support equipment.

California Agency Airs Out Plan for Checking Tires

A regulation being considered by the state Air Resources Board would require an estimated 40,000 auto service and repair shops statewide to check the tire pressure of every vehicle they service and make sure the tires are properly inflated.

Fit to a T

Ilse Metchek, California Fashion Association president, got her start in the industry as a fitting model.

Aecom Awarded $33 Million Air Force Contract

Aecom Technology Corp. said it has been awarded a task order worth $33 million to repair the remote Eareckson Air Force Base airfield on Shemya Island, near the end of Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

Calendar & Events

Events of interest to Los Angeles' business community.

Icahn Cracks the Whip on Lions Gate

It seems Lions Gate Entertainment roused a dragon when the company rejected Carl Icahn's request to seat his hand-picked board members.

Saturday, March 21

Hollywood IATSE Signs AMPTP Deal

The 15 Hollywood-based locals of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have ratified a new three-year deal with the congloms, covering about 35,000 below-the-line members.

Friday, March 20

Medical Laboratories Charged With Fraud

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed suit against several medical labs in Southern California, accusing the private companies of systematically defrauding the Medi-Cal program of hundreds of millions of dollars by overcharging the state by as much as 4

Investors Complete IndyMac Bank Acquisition

A consortium of private investors said they have completed their acquisition of banking operations of failed Pasadena thrift IndyMac Inc. and are reopening the bank as OneWest Bank FSB.

The Week's Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed marginally up for the week ended March 20.

Court Rules Against Clean Trucks Program

The American Trucking Association scored a potentially big victory in its battle with the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports over elements of their truck replacement programs.

Update: Unemployment Keeps Rising

In more grim economic news, L.A. County's unemployment rate in February jumped to 10.9 percent from 10.4 percent in January, the highest rate in 17 years.

This Week's Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed up for the week ended March 13, as investors began feeling more confident that markets will continue to recover.

Regulator Looks Closer at Ticketmaster-Live Nation

The Department of Justice has asked Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. and concert promoter Live Nation Inc. for more information about their proposed merger, the companies said.

Image Sale in Question

Image Entertainment Inc. has announced that the San Francisco company that promised to buy it could not close the $100 million deal by Friday as arranged.

Countrywide Sues AIG Unit

A legal battle between units of Countrywide Financial Corp. and American International Group Inc. could provide a rare window into the collapse of the financial and real estate markets.

Credit Union Placed in Conservatorship

Federal regulators said they have placed a San Dimas corporate credit union into conservatorship.

Thursday, March 19

REIT Plans Larger Secondary Offering

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. said Thursday that it plans to sell 7 million shares, more than it announced the day before, and will use proceeds to reduce secured debt.

President Winds Up SoCal Visit

In a two-day visit to Southern California designed to bolster popular support for his budget and economic recovery plan, President Barack Obama held two town-hall-style meetings, visited a facility dedicated to electric vehicle research and development an

Ticketmaster Reports Loss on Goodwill Charge

Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said it lost $1.07 billion in the fourth quarter due to a large accounting charge.

Buyers File Lawsuit Against Roosevelt Lofts

The practice of developers fudging their sales numbers may come back to haunt Milbank Real Estate, the local developer behind Roosevelt Lofts in Downtown L.A.

Northrop Advance Brings Laser Gun Closer

Northrop Grumman Corp. engineers in Redondo Beach have developed an electric laser capable of producing a deadly 100-kilowatt ray of light, a major milestone that is expected to help transform what was once a Buck Rogers space fantasy into reality.

Wednesday, March 18

Update: MGM Mirage Says Auditors Question Ability to Continue

MGM Mirage, the casino operator controlled by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, won a two-month reprieve from banks to come up with a debt restructure plan as auditors questioned the company's ability to stay in business.

Update: Lions Gate's Top Shareholder Seeks Board Seat

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp's largest investor, Mark Rachesky, has thrown his support behind the film and television studio, as it tries to fend off advances from his former boss, Carl Icahn.

United Online Cuts 50 Jobs at FTD

United Online Inc. said in a regulatory filing that it is laying off about 50 employees in its FTD online flower retailing unit due to the economic downturn.

Northrop Grumman Announces Contracts

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it received a $69 million contract to develop and test the Army's communications network, plus a separate, smaller contract in Brazil.

Workers' Comp Rate Hike Recommended

A state advisory board has recommended a 24 percent increase in basic workers' compensation insurance rates effective July 1. If approved by state insurance regulators, the increase would likely lead to a huge jump in employer premiums starting in July.

Store Closures Contributes to Tarrant Apparel Loss

Tarrant Apparel Group, which is in the process of being taken private by two founders, reported a large fourth quarter loss due to a legal settlement and the loss of a major customer.

Platinum Equity to Buy San Diego Newspaper

Beverly Hills private equity firm Platinum Equity said it will buy the San Diego Union-Tribune for an undisclosed price.

Tuesday, March 17

Guess Profit Falls 13 Percent

Guess Inc. said its fiscal fourth-quarter net income fell 13 percent largely due to the slowing economy. Even so, the results were better than analysts expected.

Patent Problems Hurt Staar Surgical's Quarter

Staar Surgical Co. reported a higher fourth quarter loss due to impairment charges and an unfavorable verdict in a patent suit.

American Apparel's Profit Jumps 30 percent

American Apparel Inc. said its fourth-quarter net income rose 30 percent as same-store sales grew and the company opened new stores for its trendy apparel.

Utility Prepares for Surge in Plug-In Electric Cars

Southern California Edison is trying to get ready for an expected surge in electric-powered cars. It's spending upwards of $5 million a year acquiring and maintaining the electric vehicle fleet, testing new plug-ins and researching battery capabilities.

Traffic Down at Long Beach Port

Container traffic at the Port of Long Beach fell 40 percent last month according to new figures, shrinking back to trade levels seen five years ago.

Hong Kong Disneyland's Future Is in Danger

Pixie dust is in mighty short supply at Hong Kong Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom theme park has steadily lost money since opening in 2005. Now it's laying off workers and has put expansion plans on hold

Monday, March 16

Dodgers Spring Facility Not a Hit With Sponsors

When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed an unusual deal in 2007 with the city of Glendale, Ariz., for a gleaming new spring training facility the club expected a windfall.

L.A. Firm Links Up to Cash In on Federal Stimulus

Tony Canzoneri has merged his 35-year-old real estate law firm, Brown Winfield Canzoneri Abram Inc., with a Washington, D.C., firm in order to capitalize on development opportunities that the federal stimulus bill will bring.

Investment Firm Puts Down Roots and Grows

Wetherly Capital Group LLC, a West L.A. boutique investment banking and investment firm, has signed a lease renewal and expansion at its headquarters office building.

Nice Development for Guys

Charles Crumpley says Rick Caruso got him to do something unusual: enjoy going to a shopping center.

Not Faster Than a Speeding Armstrong, but Still

Herbalife chief executive Michael Johnson is a good competitive bicycle rider even at 54, and he really impressed some spectators during the recent Amgen of California Tour.

Banks Want to Cancel New FDIC Insurance Policy

At a time when many banks are struggling with rising losses and dwindling cash levels, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is ready to sharply hike the insurance fees paid by banks, which are fuming.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Carl Icahn ended talks aimed at giving the billionaire activist investor's firm representation on the board of the independent studio, renewing speculation that he and another major investor may partner in a hostile prox

Outsiders Make Bolder Moves to Steal L.A. Companies

Some states have been stepping up their efforts to woo Southern California businesses to relocate.

Occidental Partnership to Develop Bahrain Field

Occidental Petroleum Corp and its partners will invest $1.5 billion over five years to boost production at a field in Bahrain, the Los Angeles company said.

RadNet Reduces Loss in Quarter

RadNet Inc. said it had narrowed its fourth quarter loss, driven largely by a 25 percent increase in revenue at its diagnostic imaging facilities.

Mattel Fears MGA Is Trying to Keep the Bratz

Mattel is wondering if its $100 million award against competitor MGA Entertainment is in danger. And the rights to the Bratz doll could be up in the air, too.

Paper to Offer All the News Fit for You to Print

Newspaper chain MediaNews will test a new spin on home delivery by letting readers print their own papers.

Namco Owes Creditors More than $500 Million

Bankrupt businessman Ezri Namvar's main company, Namco Capital Group Inc., owes $545 million to 464 creditors, according to new bankruptcy court documents.

REGIONAL REPORT

The Valley Economic Development Corp., a Van Nuys non-profit dedicated to assisting small businesses, has teamed with the San Fernando Valley Financial Development Corp. and First Bank of Beverly Hills to launch the West Valley Microloan Program.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Upcoming events of interest to the Los Angeles business community.

Image Entertainment Appoints President

Image Entertainment Inc. said President David Borshell has left the company and its chief financial officer had been named to replace him in the midst of the company's acquisition by a private equity firm.

Terrace Menu Overextends, Results Underwhelm

The cuisine falls short of the upscale environs at the Terrace at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena.

Planting British Flag in L.A.

BritWeek seeks to put an English accent on British-owned businesses in Los Angeles.

Riverside Suit Against Port of L.A. Could Hamper Growth Plans

Riverside's lawsuit over an L.A. port terminal expansion could have implications for businesses operating at the port.

Newsmakers

Live Nation, a downtown L.A.-based concert promoter, has named Seth Matlins global chief marketing officer.

Pacific Powerhouse

L.A.'s diverse immigrant community will help the city cash in as Asian countries' economies expand, writes Steven B. Sample.

Hilton Hotels Chain Has Room for New Denizen

Hilton Hotels Corp. has announced plans for a new brand, Denizen, which will be the company's foray into boutique-style hotels. The first location is scheduled to open in 2012.

Bill Clinton Leaves Yucaipa Business Partnerships

Former President Bill Clinton has ended his high-profile business connection to his friend Ronald Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. by walking away from a final payment that was once estimated at up to $20 million.

PUC Approves Rate Hike for Southwest Water

Southwest Water Co. said the California Public Utilities Commission approved an 11 percent rate hike, which should add $5.5 million to revenue.

Vacancies Void Value of Rental Property Investments

Rental properties, a former safe haven for investors, have tumbled like the housing market.

It All Adds Up

Addmaster is seeing big numbers add up with the sales of its receipt printing machines.

New Spark for Auto Industry

Balqon is looking to rev up the local automotive sector with a new plant to build electric trucks.

Sky's the Limit

Former Navy aviator John Semcken is piloting Ed Roski's NFL stadium project.

Caruso Has Vision for Business-Friendlier L.A.

Rick Caruso sounded downright mayoral in presenting his vision for L.A. while accepting the Business Journal's Hall of Fame award.

Putting a Good Face On It

Plastic surgery patients are saving a buck on their nip-and-tuck by opting for less expensive treatments.

Guitar Hero, Rock Band Try to Drum Up New Players

The Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games have become huge hits among players who love jamming along with music legends. But customers now may be singing an old blues classic: "The Thrill Is Gone."

Local Lifestyle Choices Translate Into Prosperity, Productivity

Local workers' lifestyles have had a positive influence on productivity, according to Rob Carpenter.

Caruso Mulls Taking a Run At Santa Anita

Developer Rick Caruso may buy Santa Anita Park to safeguard a planned retail project next to the horse-racing track.

SAG Plays Politics with Peace

Hollywood soon might find itself looking forward to September, and it has nothing to do with football season. With SAG's TV/theatrical contract negotiations stuck in neutral, there is growing concern that the guild's leadership is preparing to coast until

MannKind Files for Inhaled Insulin Approval

MannKind Corp. said it has filed for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market Afresa, its inhaled insulin product for diabetics.

Home Screening

LoanModDVD slips discs to homeowners on how to rewrite their mortgages.

EARLY DEVELOPER

Rick Caruso's early appreciation for real estate led to such landmark L.A.-area developments as the Grove and Americana at Brand. His business success and his community involvement led the Business Journal to name him Business Person of the Year.

Saturday, March 14

Philanthropist Leonore Annenberg Dies at 91

Leonore Annenberg, who as the widow of billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg continued his tradition of philanthropy and patronage of the arts, died this week at age 91.

MGM Mirage Facing Breakup

Kirk Kerkorian's gambling empire MGM Mirage could be chopped into pieces, as the debt-strapped company races to negotiate new terms with lenders to avoid defaulting on its debts, according to people familiar with the matter.

Waters Defends Her Work for Minority-Owned Danks

Rep. Maxine Waters defended her efforts to help minority-owned banks -- including one with ties to her husband -- scoffing at the notion that she, a liberal Democrat, could influence the Bush administration in deciding what financial institutions would re

Friday, March 13

Update: Icahn Says He Has No Plans to Shop Lions Gate

Activist investor Carl Icahn said he has no plans to push for a sale of Lions Gate Entertainment Inc in the current environment, but criticized the Santa Monica studio's expenses for being too high and called its purchase of TV Guide "reckless."

American Apparel Gets $80 Million Infusion

American Apparel Inc. said it received around $80 million in financing from a British private equity firm. The secured notes could give the new investor a stake of about 18 percent stake in the trendy L.A. apparel maker.

Murdoch Shuffles the Deck at Fox in L.A.

Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire chief executive of News Corp., has shuffled leadership of the company's Fox operations in Los Angeles, as the media company prepares for the departure of President Peter Chernin.

Pacific Energy Seeks Canadian Protection

Pacific Energy Corp. said it obtained creditor protection in Canada, the equivalent of its U.S. Chapter 11 filing of earlier this week.

Congresswoman with Ties to Bank Helped Seek Funds

Top federal regulators say they were taken aback when they learned that U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who helped set up a meeting with bankers last year, had family financial ties to a bank whose chief asked them for up to $50 million in special bailout funds.

Thursday, March 12

North American Scientific Files for Chapter 11

North American Scientific Inc. said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in part because the buyer of its prostate cancer business is paying only half of what had been originally agreed. The Chatsworth cancer treatment developer also said its ba

U.S. Auto Parts Sales Below Expectations

U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. said it had narrowed its fourth quarter loss as cost-cutting compensated for lower sales, but the results still fell short of analysts' estimates.

Study: L.A. Indy Car Repair Shops Offer Significant Savings

Los Angeles motorists can save nearly 50 percent on car repairs by patronizing an independent repair shop rather than a dealership, says a first-ever, industry-sponsored study of the issue.

American States Water's Profit Falls 53 Percent

American States Water Co. said its fourth-quarter net income dropped by more than half, in part hurt by impairment charges. But the results still exceeded Wall Street expectations when one-time charges were subtracted.

DreamWorks Fights for Funds

Steven Spielberg's struggle to raise $325 million of debt for his new studio, DreamWorks SKG, illustrates the troubles Hollywood is having as it tries to finance its movies during a credit crunch.

PUC Allows Rate Hike for So Cal Edison

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a rate increase that will hike average Southern California Edison customer bills by about 2 percent in 2009.

CEO to Buy En Pointe Technologies

En Pointe Technologies Inc., a Gardena business-to-business software firm, said it has agreed to be acquired by a company owned by its chief executive Attiazaz "Bob" Din and his family.

Wednesday, March 11

FirstFed CEO Steps Down

After 13 years at the helm of FirstFed Financial Corp., Babette Heimbuch has stepped down from her posts as chief executive and chairwoman of the embattled Los Angeles savings and loan.

Overhill Farms Profit Falls on Lower Revenues

Overhill Farms Inc. said Friday that its fiscal fourth quarter earnings fell as the slow economy prompted retailers and institutional customers to order less of the company’s frozen food products.

NetSol Forms China Subsidiary

NetSol Technologies Inc. said it is forming a wholly owned subsidiary in China to better provide business software and services in that country, particularly automotive and consumer finance applications.

Broad's Interest in LA Times Still Alive

Eli Broad, the wealthy L.A. philanthropist who once looked at buying the Los Angeles Times, is still interested in a foray into the newspaper business, he told a gathering in New York.

Key Lawmaker Urges Split Tanker Buy

The head of a congressional subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Air Force called for splitting a projected $35 billion aerial refueling-tanker buy between rivals Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, which is teamed for the competition with Europe's EADS.

Icahn Ends Talks with Lions Gate

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and billionaire investor Carl Icahn have ended talks aimed at giving his investment firm representation on the board of the independent studio, according to a Wednesday statement from Icahn.

Meruelo Maddux Warns About Finances

Meruelo Maddux Properties said it had stopped making payments on 26 real estate loans totaling $266 million, and that independent auditors were likely to issue a "going concern" opinion questioning the company's ability to remain in business.

Korn/Ferry Reports Loss on Revenue Drop, Charges

Falling demand for its executive recruiting services contributed to Korn/Ferry International reporting a loss for its fiscal third quarter, sending its share price down more than 13 percent on Wednesday.

L.A. Foreclosure Cataclysm Hits Anew

Home foreclosures in Los Angeles County soared more than 60 percent in February after moderating for several months, a sign that mounting job losses are exacerbating the market's woes, an industry tracker said.

THQ to Create Game Based on New Disney/Pixar Release

THQ Inc. said it will release this spring a video game based on "Up," an upcoming movie by Walt Disney Co.'s Pixar Animation Studios.

Plan Could Lead to MLK's Reopening

A tentative agreement has been reached to reopen the emergency room and other inpatient services at Martin Luther King-Harbor Medical Center by 2012, a move that would dramatically improve access to care in one of the most underserved areas of the country

Hot Topic Beats Expectations

Hot Topic Inc. said its net income rose 19 percent in its fourth quarter on higher sales of its trendy teen apparel, exceeding Wall Street estimates.

Tuesday, March 10

Saehan Bank Enters Into Regulatory Consent Order

Saehan Bancorp said Thursday that its Saehan Bank has entered into a consent order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the California State Department of Financial Institutions.

Former Saban Attorney Pleads Guilty

Los Angeles tax attorney Matthew Krane pleaded guilty Thursday to tax evasion in connection with a $36 million kickback federal prosecutors say he received from steering media mogul Haim Saban into an illegal tax shelter.

Turbine Deal for Wind Farm That Will Supply Edison

General Electric Co. said Thursday that it received a $1.4 billion contract to supply wind turbines and related services for an Oregon wind farm that will supply renewable energy to Southern California Edison.

Bratz Transfer Put on Hold

A U.S. appeals court late Wednesday stayed an order to transfer ownership of the Bratz fashion doll line to Mattel Inc. from rival MGA Entertainment Inc. until it rules on the case, and ordered the fighting sides into mediation.

Semtech Completes Acquisition

Semtech Corp. said late Wednesday that it completed acquisition of another semiconductor maker, Sierra Monolithics Inc., for $180 million in cash.

Mercury General Announces Layoffs

Mercury General Corp. said it took action to eliminate approximately 360 employee positions, around 7 percent of the insurance company's workforce, a move it estimates should save an annual $22 million.

1st Century Bancshares Slips to Loss in Quarter

1st Century Bancshares Inc. on reported a net loss in its fourth quarter as the bank took a larger provision for loan losses.

Broad Abandons Hope of AIG Recovery

L.A. billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a former director and shareholder of AIG who joined other investors last year to hatch a plan to reclaim the insurer from federal ownership, said he has thrown in the towel on saving the company.

Manhattan Bancorp Invests in Capital Markets Business

Manhattan Bancorp said it has agreed to invest in a new capital markets business.

Sale of Former Boeing Plant Site in Jeopardy

Plans for a $500-million movie studio on the site of a former Boeing Co. airplane factory in Long Beach are on hold because a long-pending sale of the property fell out of escrow, Boeing said.

Cities Selling Stimulus Money

A few Southern California cities have found an alternate way to use their federal stimulus money: selling it to other cities for cash.

Disney Shareholders Reject Activist Reforms

Walt Disney Co. shareholders have re-elected the entertainment giant's 12 directors, and rejected a reform proposal that would have put compensation for Chief Executive Bob Iger and other top executives to a shareholder vote.

Shamrock Urges O.C. Company to Sell Itself

The Burbank investment firm run by Roy Disney and his family is urging the board of Collectors Universe Inc. to put the company up for sale.

Monday, March 9

CKE Trims Costs to Boost Profits

CKE Restaurants Inc. said cutting operating costs enabled the fast food operator to boost net income by 14 percent in its fiscal third quarter, even as sales continued to decline in the uncertain economy. Its stock fell slightly Wednesday since the profit results missed Wall Street forecasts.

AeroVironment Optimistic Despite Lower Quarter

AeroVironment Inc. reported better-than-expected profit for its fiscal second quarter as revenue from contract services slightly offset the drop in sales of its drone aircraft.

Firm to Remove Unpermitted Supergraphics

A real estate company that has secured $28 million in taxpayer subsidies from the city of Los Angeles has agreed to take down five unpermitted supergraphics, or vinyl images, from the sides of buildings in Hollywood.

Signing On as Top 'People' Person at Ernst & Young

When Maho Jordan first joined Ernst & Young after earning a degree in international relations from California State University, Long Beach, she didn't intend to stay long.

Newsmakers

Brad Wilson has joined the Century City office of Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based global commercial real estate company, as executive vice president.

Business Bruised at Ballot Box

Charles Crumpley wonders how Angelenos can think of their city as business friendly after the last election.

End of Iron Age

The fire will go out in May at six-decade-old El Monte iron foundry Gregg Industries.

Disney Sets Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions to Zero

The Walt Disney Co said it plans to cut carbon emissions from fuels by half by 2012, and ultimately to achieve net zero direct greenhouse gas emissions at its office and retail complexes, theme parks and cruise lines.

Bad Business, as Usual

William F. Shughart II complains that state legislators have followed a familiar road map in drafting the budget.

Long Beach Flags Cargo Carriers for Not Speeding

Nearly two-thirds of ocean carriers serving the Port of Long Beach have signed up for the recently expanded Green Flag program, which requires ships to slow down near the port to cut pollution.

Flush With Choice

Toilets at Boeing's El Segundo campus let women decide how much water to flush.

Update: AeroVironment's Quarter Disappoints Wall Street

AeroVironment Inc.'s share price plunged by more than a third Tuesday, a day after the developer of unmanned aircraft systems said its third-quarter net income fell 24 percent on higher expenses. The company also warned of lower revenue growth due to the

Sale of Michael Jackson Possessions to Go Forward Despite Suit

An L.A. auction house will go ahead with a sale of Michael Jackson's possessions despite a suit by the singer's representatives.

Torrance Developer Gets Boost From Government

There's an old adage that government can become a safe haven for developers and landlords to ride out the storm during real estate busts. One recent deal shows just how.

MannKind to Buy Pfizer Insulin Factory

MannKind Corp., which is preparing to seek U.S. approval for its inhaled insulin product, said it will buy Pfizer Inc.'s insulin factory in Germany and related assets for about $33 million.

Election Results Reveal Mixed Bag for Business

A defeat of a Beverly Hills tax hike was the biggest Election Day victory for business.

SAG, Studios Inch Toward Compromise

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild have signaled they're exploring ways to end the stalemate with the major studios over the guild's feature-primetime deal.

No Man Is an Island but This Man Owns One

People dream of going to a tropical island to get away from it all. Brady Brim-DeForest actually owns one.

REGIONAL REPORT

Stereo Vision Entertainment Inc., a Van Nuys film production company, has formed TDOJ LLC, a Nevada-based wholly owned subsidiary of the company, as a partnership vehicle for Stereo Vision's $6 million 3-D movie "Three Dimensions of Jerusalem."

Electric Car Factory May Rev Up SoCal Economy

Could Tesla Motors Inc., a startup founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk that manufactures high-end electric cars, soon give a jolt to the L.A. economy?

There's Something Fishy in California's Handling of Water Crisis

The delta smelt fish population has laid an egg on SoCal's water plan, according to Wayne Lusvardi.

Amgen Fashion Show Becomes 'Runway' Project

Amgen Inc. has turned to the fashion world for its latest celebrity spokesman, tapping genial "Project Runway" host Tim Gunn to promote an educational campaign about plaque psoriasis.

L.A. Company Captivates With Placement of TV Ads

Focus Creative Group in Tarzana has been successful in turning dentist offices into captive-audience advertising forums.

Playing the Union Card

Obama's backing of the Employee Free Choice Act means bad news for California, writes David M. Smith.

Long Beach Ready for Close-Up

A local cable TV show is turning the Port of Long Beach into a star.

Settlement Costly For Broadcaster

Univision reached a suit-settling deal with supplier Televisa; now all the network has to do is pay for it.

State Air Quality Rule Puts Heat on Chip Makers

Local semiconductor companies are nervous about a new air quality rule recently enacted by California regulators because it could require them to spend major sums of money to reformulate the solvents they use.

Specialty Investment Firm SSI Acquires Froley Revy

SSI Investment Management Inc. said it will acquire the Froley, Revy Investment Co. Inc. for an undisclosed price, combining two Los Angeles area investment firms specializing in convertible securities.

Properties Disappear From Namvar Holdings List

Ezri Namvar's apparently preferential payoff of creditors could complicate his bankruptcy proceedings.

Once-Swinging Sinatra Spot Among Namvar Assets

From raw land to undistinguished office buildings, the scores of properties on Ezri Namvar's asset list hardly stand out.

Median Price for L.A. Homes Falls to $310,000

February's median home price in L.A. County was down 34 percent versus a year earlier, according to figures from HomeData Corp. in Hicksville, N.Y.

Peak to Peak

Rob Friedman parlayed a job in the mailroom at Warner Bros. into a movie marketing career and the CEO post at Summit Entertainment.

Pacific Energy Resources Files for Chapter 11

Pacific Energy Resources announced it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying the drop in crude oil prices had made it hard to pay its debt.

Tough Times Hit Lawyers in Wallet

2008's slow economy took a bite out of many L.A. law firms' profits per partner.

Calendar of Events

Upcoming events of interest to Los Angeles business people and professionals

NEWS OF THE WEEK

A federal grand jury indicted former KB Home Chief Executive Bruce Karatz on charges that he attempted to defraud the L.A. homebuilder's shareholders by awarding himself and other executives stock options that were backdated to increase their value.

Foreclosure Auctions Boom as Loans Bust

The boom in housing foreclosures has proved a boon to businesses running home auctions.

Keeping Spirits In the Pink

Pink Slip Party L.A. events let the unemployed commiserate and connect with employer reps.

Sunday, March 8

Dour Forecast for 2010

The latest UCLA Anderson Forecast released Wednesday expects a weak economic recovery next year, with California’s jobless rate unlikely to dip below 10 percent before 2012.

Indie Film Production Company Files for IPO

Film Department Holdings Inc., an independent film finance and production company whose first U.S. release was “Law Abiding Citizen” starring Jamie Foxx, said it plans to go public in an initial public offering that backers hope will raise $85 million to $100 million.

First California Plans Stock Offering

First California Financial Group Inc. shares fell 13 percent Tuesday after the Westlake Village bank holding company said it plans to sell at least 7.5 million shares to boost its capital levels, potentially make acquisitions and for other purposes.

NTS Makes Acquisition

Calabasas engineering services provider National Technical Systems Inc. said Tuesday that a division had completed the acquisition of a supply chain management services provider named Unitek Technical Services Inc.

Korn/Ferry Earnings Better Than Expected

Korn/Ferry International on Tuesday reported lower second quarter profit that was still above Wall Street expectations, largely due to revenue growth from the previous quarter and savings from an earlier restructuring.

Saturday, March 7

Magna's Chapter 11 Filing Does Number on Racing

The bankruptcy of the Magna Entertainment Corp. -- owner of some of America's most famous racetracks such as Santa Anita -- was not another case of a company ruined by executive greed. On the contrary.

View-Master Heads Into the 3-D Sunset -- Sorta

View-Master's iconic 3-D discs of scenic attractions and tourist destinations are no longer a good fit for the Fisher-Price division of toy maker Mattel Inc., which recently stopped making them. But the format won't go away entirely.

Friday, March 6

This Week's Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies closed down sharply for the week ended March 6 as fearful investors continued to drive a bear market.

Robbins Bros. Files Chapter 11

Robbins Bros. Corp., the Azusa-base chain of self-proclaimed "World's Biggest Engagement Ring Stores," has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Barbie Moves to Shanghai to Escape U.S. Recession

As consumer demand slumps in the U.S. and Europe, Barbie has packed her matching pink luggage and moved to China.

Santa Anita Track Owner Files for Chapter 11

Magna Entertainment Corp., the troubled owner of Santa Anita Park in Arcadia and six other major thoroughbred horse racing venues, has filed for bankruptcy protection after defaulting on conditions of a bank loan.

Energy Innovations Appoints CEO

Energy Innovations Inc., a Pasadena maker of commercial solar products, said Joseph Budano has joined the company as chief executive.

Thursday, March 5

K-Swiss's Quarter Worse Than Expected

Shoe maker K-Swiss Inc said it swung to a loss in the fourth quarter. The loss was worse than Wall Street expectations, though the drop in sales was less than expected. It also said a 36 percent drop in advance orders portends a weaker 2009.

Same-Store Sales Down at American Apparel

Although its total sales have increased because it opened 80-plus stores last year, same store sales at American Apparel Inc. are down, an indication that the recession has hit the trendy L.A.-based clothing company.

Youbet.com Reduces Loss as Online Wagers Grow

Youbet.com Inc. said its fourth quarter loss narrowed as active clients of the online gambling service placed more bets.

Another L.A. Law Firm Announces Layoffs

Los Angeles law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP said that it is laying off 90 attorneys approximately 10 percent of the firm's associate and counsel base and 110 support staff as the economy continues to take its toll on the legal industry.

Video Game Maker THQ Plays Defense

A big decline in sales prompts the Calabasas video game developer to cut costs, invest in "fewer, better bets."

Karatz Indicted for Role in Backdating Scheme

A federal grand jury has indicted former KB Homes Chief Executive Bruce Karatz on charges that he attempted to defraud the L.A. home builder's shareholders by awarding himself and other executives stock options that were illegally backdated to increase th

Leahy Named CEO of MTA

Art Leahy, who began his career driving buses on the streets of Los Angeles, just became the most powerful person in local transportation.

Santa Monica Considers Franchise System for Taxis

Santa Monica currently doesn't limit the number of firms or vehicles, resulting in plenty of options for passengers but inconsistent fares. Officials suggest reducing the number of companies and cabs.

Image Gives Nyx Another Chance

The on-again, off-again marriage between Image Entertainment Inc. and Nyx Acquisitions Inc. is back on. Now that Nyx has come up with part of a required payment, Image said it will give the company until Friday before permanently pulling the plug on the $

Live Nation Rivals See Hard Rain From Dylan Data

If Ticketmaster and Live Nation are allowed to merge, the later's competitors fear they'd be vulnerable to the combined company's ability to offer artists ticket revenue as an inducement, and to pressure venues to use its ticketing and promotions.

Economy Weakens Obagi Medical's Quarter

Obagi Medical Products Inc. said its fourth-quarter earning fell more than 50 percent on slower sales of its skin care products. The Long Beach company, whose products are sold in doctor's offices, also set lower expectations for its first quarter than Wa

Wednesday, March 4

MGM Mirage May Breach Debt Covenants in 2009

MGM Mirage, the casino company majority-owned by L.A. billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, said it may not be able to stay in compliance with financial covenants under its senior credit facility this year.

Update: Michael Jackson's Company Sues Auction Firm

Julien's Auctions, a Los Angeles company set to auction off more than 2,000 of pop singer Michael Jackson's possessions next month, is being sued by the entertainer's production company for failing to return certain "priceless and irreplaceable items."

Aecom Makes $80.8 Million Stock Offering

Aecom Technology Corp. has priced a public stock offering at $20.20 per share and boosted the size of the offering to 4 million shares.

Ex-Leaders of Countrywide Profit From Bad Loans

Fairly or not, Countrywide Financial and its top executives would be on most lists of those who share blame for the nation's economic crisis. So it may come as a surprise that a dozen former top Countrywide executives now stand to make millions from the h

Bank's Capital Position Offsets Real-Estate Exposure

East West Bancorp Inc. is heavily involved in California's deteriorating commercial real-estate and mortgages market, but its strong capital position could help it weather the downturn better than its rivals.

Crown Media Reverses Loss in Quarter

Crown Media Holdings Inc. said it moved from a loss to a profit in its fourth quarter as it cut costs and brought in more subscriber revenue from its Hallmark family of cable channels.

Northrop May Lay Off Up to 750 Workers

Northrop Grumman Corp. is planning to lay off as many as 750 workers as it consolidates administrative staffs in Redondo Beach and El Segundo. Despite the anticipated job losses, a spokesman said the company's workforce in the region could actually grow t

Image Gives Up on Nyx Merger

Image Entertainment Inc. said Wednesday it has abandoned its planned $100 million acquisition by Nyx Acquisitions Inc. after the San Francisco private equity firm failed to meet a deadline for a required payment.

Update: Villaraigosa Reelected, Measure B Failing

Local business interests faced mixed results in Tuesday's municipal elections, losing a key ballot measure and council district race in Los Angeles but soundly defeating a business tax measure in Beverly Hills.

Tuesday, March 3

Abraxis Loss Widens on Re-Acquisition Costs

Abraxis Bioscience Inc. reported a wider fourth quarter loss primarily due to costs of buying back the U.S. marketing rights to its Abraxane cancer drug from former partner AstraZeneca.

Higher Margins Boosts Calavo's Quarter

Despite a sales decline, Calavo Growers Inc. reported sharply higher first-quarter earnings due to improved gross margins.

AM Oil Resources Appoints New CEO

AM Oil Resources & Technology Inc. said it hired Keith Alan Johnson as chief executive officer. He replaces Anthony Miller, who has resigned.

Long Lines, Bulging Jackpot for Mega Millions

If last week's $171 million jackpot induced Lotto fever, tonight's $212 million prize -- the 10th-largest in the history of the Mega Million game -- has raised the temperature.

Cut! Actors Take Five to Twitter Their Fans

Celebrities using the blogging site to mold their online image might help the service hit the mainstream. But can it make money?

Image Entertainment Again Declares Nyx in Breach

The rocky courtship of Image Entertainment Inc. and its San Francisco private equity suitor took another turn for the uncertain Tuesday when the Chatsworth home entertainment distributor said Nyx Acquisitions Inc. was again in breach of their merger agree

Bank Finds White Knight

Beverly Hills Bancorp Inc., the struggling Calabasas parent of First Bank of Beverly Hills, said it reached a merger agreement with an investment asset manager that will return it to financial health.

Move Narrows Loss in Quarter

Move Inc. said it reduced its fourth quarter loss, as the real estate Web site operator scaled back and adapted to the housing market downturn.

Gibson Loses 'Guitar Hero' Case

A federal judge has dismissed a claim by Gibson Guitar Corp. that controllers for the hit video game "Guitar Hero" violated a patent held by the famed guitar manufacturer.

Monday, March 2

Latino Markets in Mexican Standoff

Mexican supermarkets spice up their shelves with ethnic offerings to compete with larger chains.

El Segundo Company's REIT Promises Stability

Griffin Capital, a private El Segundo real estate investment company, is starting a $100 million venture that aims to offer a stable investment in the down economy a public unlisted real estate investment trust.

Jeans Maker Plans to Have More in Store for 2009

Despite posting higher-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, the horseshoe-shaped stitching on the back pockets of True Religion Apparel Inc.'s high-end jeans may not bring the denim company as much luck this year.

Update: Two Local Banks Receive Cease-and-Desist Orders

A pair of small local banks have revealed that they are among a growing number of institutions to receive cease-and-desist orders from regulators.

NEWS OF THE WEEK

Ryland Group Inc.'s chief executive, R. Chad Dreier, will retire May 29 after 15 years with the company.

Calendar of Events

Events of interest to the business community.

Edison Profit Rises in Quarter

Edison International said its fourth-quarter net income rose about 3 percent as rate increases and energy-efficiency rewards contributed to a 16 percent rise in profit at its Southern California Edison unit.

Long Beach's Flight of Fortune

Foreign orders help keep Boeing's C-17 line in Long Beach moving, in spite of economic turmoil throughout the nation.

Glove for Sale

A local auction house finds itself in the spotlight handling items owned by eccentric pop star Michael Jackson.

Investment Losses Sink Ares' Quarter

Ares Capital Corp. swung from profit to a loss for the fourth quarter, as losses on investments widened from last year.

Beckham Agrees to Return to Galaxy in Mid-July

David Beckham will be rejoining the Los Angeles Galaxy in mid-July after completing the Italian season with AC Milan, according to reports. That could be the end of his MLS career.

Drago Centro Dishes Up Comfort and Innovation

Drago Centro has already made a place for itself in downtown L.A.'s competitive dining scene.

Firm Engages in Office Politics to Raise Its Profile

President Clinton aide Mickey Kantor is returning to the downtown L.A. office of Mayer Brown LLP after spending the previous eight years working primarily from the firm's Washington, D.C., outpost.

Mayor and Business a Poor Union

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa only means business when it comes to helping organized labor, worries Charles Crumpley.

IndyMac Exposes Rift Between Regulators

Last week's autopsy by the Treasury Department's inspector general of the collapse of IndyMac Savings and Loan offers insight into a Washington back alley brawl between banking regulators.

Designer Singles Out Flexibility as a Key to Creativity

The Business Journal occasionally checks in with L.A. executives and asks them to describe their day. This week, Melanie Robinson, a principal and brand experience studio director at architecture and design firm KAA Design Group, discusses her routine.

Enjoying Positive Spin

The founders of a Hula Hoop-inspired exercise system hope to spin recent celebrity coverage into sales.

REGIONAL REPORT

Sweet Lady Jane, a West Hollywood bakery and dessert specialist, has reached an exclusive deal to provide four of its signature cakes at 10 Ralphs Fresh Fare grocery stores in L.A. County.

Maguire Properties' Loss Doubles on Charge

Maguire Properties Inc. reported a 116 percent higher fourth-quarter loss, largely due to an impairment charge on a building held for sale.

Booked Up

James Ellis brings his decades in the business world to guiding the USC Marshall School of Business.

Newsmakers

The Occidental College board has named Jonathan Veitch president. Veitch was previously dean of Eugene Lang College: The New School for Liberal Arts in New York.

Building Up Form and Function

A renewed focus on infrastructure projects offers a chance to discuss civic aesthetics, writes Michael Lehrer.

Dole Food Announces Private Debt Offering

Dole Food Company Inc. said it intends to sell in a private offering $325 million in senior secured notes to be due in 2014.

As Sales Crash, Car Dealers Skid

Tight credit and wary consumers have driven many car dealerships to the brink.

U.S. Prosecutors Compare Grocer to Mafia Don

Federal prosecutors on March 10 will put a decidedly different spin on the rags-to-riches tale of Numero Uno grocery chain founder George Torres.

Restaurants' Parent Makes the Cut With Investors

Cost-cutting measures served up a strong quarter to Applebee's and IHOP parent DineEquity.

Zoo Keeping?

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sees the city cashing in with public-private partnerships.

HCP's CFO to Leave

HCP Inc. said Chief Financial Officer Mark A. Wallace will leave at the end of March and be replaced by Thomas M. Herzog.

Slanted Sensitivity

When the average person walks through the new L.A. Live complex next to Staples Center, he may notice the large plaza or see the spectacle of flashing video screens.

Forecasters Highlight Recession's Silver Lining

Executives at a UCLA Anderson School of Management seminar sought an upside to the recession.

Gals Give Cupid An Assist

A Los Angeles lawyer provides "wing girls" to help men meet women at bars and clubs.

Making a Case Point by Point

Businesswoman Patsy Flanigan lists 11 suggestions for lawmakers to guide us through the recession.

Live Nation's Loss Widens to $338 Million

A large impairment charges related to its falling share prince sent Live Nation's fourth quarter loss skyrocketing, the Beverly Hills concert and artist promoter said.

Architect of Sports Arenas Has New Working Venue

Ron Turner, architect of major stadium venues including Staples Center, has moved his practice to the Santa Monica office of architecture giant Gensler.

Rand's Traffic Study Made No Room for Freeway Expansion

A recent Rand study on traffic purposefully left out freeway expansion, according to Carl Olson.

Biggest Winner?

A local consultant thinks "Slumdog Millionaire" will boost India's profile as an export destination.

Gushing Praise

Demand for WET Design's fountains has pushed the company's staffing to a high water mark.

Game Company Needs Big Score

What is THQ's fate if its new video games fail to score?

Regulators Likely to Seek Concessions in Music Business Merger

U.S. regulators may already be looking to crash the wedding of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.