DODGERS DEAL: Owner Frank McCourt of the Los Angeles Dodgers team, which is in Chapter 11 reorganization, reached an agreement with a group including former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin “Magic” Johnson to sell the troubled Major League Baseball franchise. The deal is valued at $2.15 billion. Controlling partner of Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC is Mark R. Walter, chief executive of Chicago investment firm Guggenheim Partners. In addition to Johnson, the group also includes former Atlanta Braves President Stan Kasten and Mandalay Entertainment Chief Executive Peter Guber. The agreement calls for McCourt and affiliates of the purchasers to form a joint venture to acquire the Chavez Ravine property on which Dodgers Stadium and the parking lots are located for $150 million. The deal must still be approved in bankruptcy court.
EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK: Los Angeles County’s jobs picture continued its gradual improvement in February, according to state figures. The county’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 11.8 percent in February compared with January. However, tens of thousands more people entered the work force in February looking for work, and the county’s unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high, drifting down only 0.5 of a percentage point from 12.3 percent a year ago. The news was more encouraging for February’s payroll jobs figures, which are derived from a separate survey of employers. The county added 29,000 payroll jobs in February, with the most gains in entertainment, private education and professional services.
JOB CUTS: THQ Inc. announced that it will lay off 114 employees, all of them out of state, in order to cut costs as it converts one of its franchise video games into what it hopes will be a more profitable format. The Agoura Hills game developer said that it is transitioning “Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium” from a massively multiplayer online game into both a single-player and online multiplayer experience. THQ said the layoff decision was due to the additional investment necessary, and the company’s inability to find a strategic partner to finance development. The cuts come at THQ development studios in Austin, Texas, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
ON THE BLOCK: Hollywood trade publication Variety is up for sale by parent company Reed Business Information. Sale of the newspaper, headquartered on the Miracle Mile, is part of an effort by Reed to sell off print assets and focus on data services. Variety was previously placed on the market in 2008, along with other trade publications owned by the company, but failed to sell. Variety has been covering show business news for more than 100 years but has faced pressure from an industrywide downturn in print advertising and rising competition from Internet startups.
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