ON THE BLOCK?: The new head of troubled insurance giant American International Group Inc. did not rule out selling two of its Los Angeles-based businesses as part of an effort to pay off its $85 billion government loan. Chief Executive Edward Liddy said during a conference call that selling any company except its U.S. property and casualty, and foreign general insurance businesses was up for consideration. That opens the possibility that its lucrative aircraft leasing business, International Lease Finance Corp., run by Los Angeles billionaire Steven Udvar-Hazy, and annuity-oriented retirement planning arm AIG SunAmerica could be put on the market.

DEMOTED: Tetra Tech Inc. said it demoted its president, Sam Box, to vice president of risk management after disclosures that Box had inflated his resume with a University of California engineering degree he hadn't earned. The Pasadena provider of consulting and technical services said it became aware of the problem after Box's name popped up in a test of new software at the Fraud Discovery Institute, a San Diego non-profit founded by former Los Angeles con man Barry Minkow. In separate news, Tetra Tech said it acquired for an undisclosed amount San Francisco-based DPK Consulting, which provides consulting services for the U.S. Agency for International Development and has been selected as one of five contractors to share a five-year, $500 million USAID contract.

PROXY BATTLE: Shareholders of International Rectifier Corp. were scheduled Oct. 10 to vote for directors and proposals related to a hostile $1.7 billion tender offer from Vishay Intertechnology Inc. Vishay was backing three alternative candidates to the board and said it would drop its $23-a-share tender offer if it did not win. The tender offer, launched last month, is scheduled to expire Oct. 27. Malvern, Pa.-based Vishay and the El Segundo power management chip maker have been waging a bitter proxy battle, with Vishay saying its offer maximizes shareholder value. International Rectifier contends that Vishay's funding is uncertain and that the offer itself undervalues the company's long-term growth prospects.

MERGER APPROVED: PeopleSupport Inc. said its shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the company's $250 million merger with Indian conglomerate Aegis BPO. Mumbai-based Aegis will pay shareholders $12.25 a share in cash for the Los Angeles company, which operates offshore call centers. PeopleSupport will become part of its Essar Services subsidiary. Essar said it plans to close the deal no later than Oct. 31.

SUIT DISMISSED: Former officials of defunct Countrywide Financial Corp. won dismissal of a federal lawsuit in Delaware in which investors sought $2 billion in damages based on allegations of insider trading. The shareholders alleged that directors, including former Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo, sold stock worth $373 million while in possession of nonpublic, materially adverse company information in 2007. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America earlier this year.

BOTTOMS UP: 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. said its second quarter sales grew a better-than-expected 9 percent as more price-conscious consumers visited the discount retailer. The Commerce-based chain said that sales totaled almost $318 million for the quarter ended ending Sept. 27. Analysts expected the company's revenues to be $302 million. The company, which last month raised its top price to 99.99 cents due to rising costs, noted that publicity about the increase was also a likely factor in raising sales.

SEEING GROWTH: Staar Surgical Co. said sales of its implantable contact lens rose about 52 percent in the third quarter, primarily due to greater overseas demand. The Monrovia ophthalmic products maker is scheduled to report its fiscal third quarter results Oct. 28 but prereleased sales figures. The company's forecasts suggest about $1.3 million in U.S. revenue and $3.7 million in sales overseas, according to analysts. The company's Visian ICL lens is used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

BID OFFERED: Forever 21 Inc., the Los Angeles-based cheap-chic clothing store chain, has put in a bid to buy most of Mervyn's stores. Mervyn's, a midrange department store company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July and is closing 26 stores. Forever 21 offered an undisclosed amount for Hayward-based Mervyn's remaining 150 stores. Forever 21 has about 430 stores in the United States, most of which are located in malls. Forever 21 had previously tried to buy Mervyn's in 2004, but lost out to investment groups.

MORE DRILLING: Occidental Petroleum Corp. said it will invest $500 million to develop two oil and gas fields in the Middle East country of Abu Dhabi. The Los Angeles oil and gas exploration and production company said it will pay Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. for the rights to appraise and develop the Jarn Yaphour and Rahman oil and gas fields. It will operate both fields and hold 100 percent of the output. First production at Jarn Yaphour is expected in 2009. Production at Rahman could begin as early as 2011.

SUIT WON: A federal court upheld a prior jury decision affirming Amgen Inc.'s patents for anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, and ruled it is entitled to a permanent injunction against Swiss competitor Roche AG. In March, the U.S. District Court in Boston barred Roche from selling its drug Mircera in the United States because a jury found the drug violated Thousand Oaks-based Amgen's patents. Roche said it is considering its options. The ruling is a rare piece of good news for Amgen's flagship anemia drug franchise, which has seen sales falter over safety concerns.


The Advertising & PR column in the Oct. 6 issue incorrectly stated that Kreisler Group made a TV commercial to promote its skill in making TV commercials. The agency produced a Web site to promote its creative services, which include TV commercial production.

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An article in the Oct. 6 issue headlined "Hefner Uncovers His Skinflint Side" should have said that products carrying the Playboy brand name generated $800 million in gross revenue in 2007. Of that, licensees paid Playboy Enterprises Inc. $43 million.

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