Amgen Inc. is halting some pricing practices that critics claimed were contributing to overuse of its anemia drug Aranesp. The Thousand Oaks biotech said that as of Oct. 1 it would no longer offer rebates to oncology clinics for their use of Aranesp, although it would offer larger discounts at the time of purchase. The company also said it would stop offering bundling discounts on its two infection fighting drugs, Neulasta and Neupogen; those discounts were based on a customer's purchase of Aranesp.
STOCK DOWNGRADE: Shares of Superior Industries International Inc. and several other auto suppliers fell after a Wall Street analyst downgraded the sector in the face of an automobile sales slump that is likely to persist. David Leiker at Robert W. Baird & Co. cut his stock recommendation for the Van Nuys aluminum wheel supplier from "neutral" to "underperform," and the sector as a whole from "overweight" to "market weight." Superior Industries the week before said that it was closing a plant in Kansas and cutting its U.S. work force by 29 percent.
FILLING COFFERS: Nanotech holding company Arrowhead Research Corp. said that it sold approximately $4.4 million worth of securities to fund operations, research and development. Most of the buyers were long-standing Arrowhead shareholders or company officers, including Chief Executive Chris Anzalone, who invested more than $300,000. Pasadena-based Arrowhead sold 2.5 million units, consisting of common stock and common stock purchase warrants, in a registered direct offering to investors. Net proceeds were not given. Arrowhead said it may sell up to an additional 3.1 million units in follow-on offerings.
PLEA MADE: A former senior analyst for Countrywide Home Loans and another man have pleaded not guilty in an alleged scheme to download and sell customer data from the mortgage lender. Ex-Countrywide employee Rene L. Rebollo Jr. of Pasadena and Wahid Siddiqi of Thousand Oaks entered their pleas in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Rebollo allegedly told the FBI he downloaded private financial information, saved the reports on flash drives and then sold them. Siddiqi was arrested after allegedly buying the data. Calabasas-based Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America Corp. in August.
INSURER FINED: Health Net Inc. has agreed to pay a $13 million fine and $28 million in other penalties and costs for a decade of underpaying out-of-network claims from its New Jersey members. The Woodland Hills health insurer waived its right to a hearing on the charge, according to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, which said the fine was a record for the state. Health Net of New Jersey paid $26 million in restitution and interest to compensate 88,000 subscribers for "dramatically underpaid claims" between 1996 and 2006.
BANK PRESIDENT: Saehan Bancorp has named former Hanmi Bank chief executive Chung Hoon Youk as its president-chief executive, succeeding Benjamin Hong. Youk, 60, is a longtime leader in Los Angeles' Korean-American business community and was interim president and chief executive of Hanmi Bank from 1999 through 2003. The 75-year-old Hong, who is retiring, served as Saehan's chief executive for three years and prior to that was CEO of Nara Bank.
NEW ACQUISITION: Motorcar Parts of America Inc. said it has completed the acquisition of the new and remanufactured alternators and starters operation of Suncoast Automotive Products Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Los Angeles-based Motorcar Parts itself remanufactures alternators and starters for cars and trucks. Suncoast Automotive is a privately held company based in Pompano Beach, Fla. Motorcar Parts. The company said it expects additional net sales of at least $4 million from the acquisition.
BRITISH GROWTH: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has acquired a maintenance, construction and service works contractor in England that it said will significantly increase its capabilities in Europe. Pasadena-based Jacobs did not say how much it is paying for L.E.S. Engineering Ltd., a Grimsby company that specializes in mechanical, instrumentation and electrical installations in the utilities industry. The acquisition will increase Jacob's current 300-person operation in Grimsby to 1,000 employees.
EXPANDED CREDIT: Stepping into the breach created by the credit crunch, Wilshire Finance Partners, a Los Angeles asset-based commercial real estate lender, has launched a second real estate mortgage pool fund to raise $100 million to make commercial property loans. The Wilshire Income Fund II is the company's first high-yield fund to target borrowers and investors nationwide.
In separate news, Pacific Office Properties Trust Inc. closed a $40 million revolving credit facility with KeyBank National Association that will be used to acquire West Coast office properties in partnership with institutional investors.
NEW PRESIDENT: The Valley Industry and Commerce Association has named former Assembly staff manager Stuart Waldman as its president. Waldman succeeds Brendan Huffman, who stepped down in July. Waldman, who was chief of staff to former Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg, unsuccessfully ran for his termed-out boss's Assembly seat this year but lost in the June 3 primary. Waldman had spent 11 years in Sacramento working for Hertzberg and his successor, Lloyd Levine. At VICA, Waldman plans to concentrate on employment regulation issues.
EARNINGS: OSI Systems Inc. said its fiscal fourth quarter net income rose 28 percent on higher sales of its airport security and medical monitoring systems. The Hawthorne company reported net income of $5.5 million, compared with net income of $4.3 million in the same period a year ago. Revenues grew 12 percent to $171 million.
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