Idealab Scraps IPO

The bear market in Internet stocks forced once-highflying Internet business incubator Idealab to abandon its plans for an initial public stock offering.

As the creator of such companies as online toy retailer eToys, search engine firm and free Internet service provider NetZero Inc., Pasadena-based Idealab was celebrated as a darling of the New Economy.

But as investors lost faith in money-losing Internet startups, including those spawned by Idealab, the 5-year-old incubator has lost its luster. Idealab Chairman Bill Gross gave the news in an e-mail to his 230 employees.

Minority Banks to Merge

Founders National Bank, Los Angeles' only black-owned commercial bank, announced that it plans to merge with Boston Bank of Commerce in an effort to build the nation's first African American-owned banking chain stretching from coast to coast.

The new institution, which would use the Boston Bank of Commerce name, plans to launch with service in Los Angeles, Florida and Boston, areas the two banks currently serve. It hopes to expand in other states with urban markets.

If approved by regulators, the merged bank would have assets of more than $260 million, making it the third-largest African American-owned bank in the nation, said Robert Patrick Cooper, senior counsel for Boston Bank.

Started in 1991, Founders' high-profile owners include former Lakers great-turned-businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson, singer Janet Jackson and Jheryl Busby, former Motown president and currently head of urban music at DreamWorks SKG.

Litton May Sell Divisions

Litton Industries Inc., hoping to bolster the value of its sluggish stock, said it may sell its Woodland Hills-based military electronics business.

A company spokesman said Litton directors voted to allow its executives to explore the sale of the Advanced Electronics Group, which consists of 12 divisions that make everything from night-vision goggles to laser weapons.

The group employs 9,500 worldwide, including about 2,700 in the San Fernando Valley. It generated about $1.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2000, down slightly from $1.7 billion a year earlier.

The move comes as the large defense contractor has been under pressure from investors to shed underperforming businesses and narrow its focus.

Investment Fund to Be Launched

Genesis L.A., Mayor Richard Riordan's inner-city economic development initiative, will launch a private investment fund to channel expansion capital to manufacturing and technology companies mostly in poor parts of Los Angeles, city officials said.

The new fund broadens the scope of Genesis L.A., which was designed to attract private capital to key development sites and supplement the projects with public funding when needed.

The new fund was announced at the East Los Angeles Sears building, one of the Genesis sites. City officials also heralded a $1 million contribution from Kmart to the nonprofit Genesis L.A. Economic Growth Corp. The retailer is reviewing Genesis sites for one or more new stores.

Mattel Hits Estimates

Just months after taking over, Mattel Chief Executive Robert Eckert seems to already be making progress in righting the troubled company.

For the first time in more than a year, Mattel reported quarterly results that were in line with analysts' estimates and not qualified by any surprises. Still, Eckert said third-quarter earnings before charges fell nearly 22 percent, to $174.3 million, from those of the year-earlier period. Including one-time events, the El Segundo-based toy maker posted a net loss of nearly $336.9 million for the quarter, the result of a $441 million charge on the sale of its disastrous Learning Co. division and a $74 million restructuring charge.

Eckert said the sale of Learning Co., which was costing Mattel about $1 million per day, officially closed last week. Investors were pleasantly surprised by the company's results, after days of Wall Street whispers that Mattel would miss its target numbers.

Stake in Film Roman Bought

Animation production company Film Roman Inc. said it has agreed to sell a 51 percent stake in the company to India's Pentamedia Graphics Ltd. for a $15 million investment.

Based in North Hollywood, Film Roman is known for producing animation used in "The Simpsons" and another popular Fox television program, "King of the Hill."

The animation producer has won 10 Emmy awards, the U.S. television industry's highest honor, since it was founded by Phil Roman in 1984. Pentamedia is one of India's leading entertainment software firms, with annual revenues of more than $100 million.

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