PASSING: Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and a powerful force behind the scenes of Walt Disney Co., died after a yearlong battle with stomach cancer. He was 79. The son of longtime Chief Executive Roy O. Disney, Disney’s tumultuous tenure with the company included stints as filmmaker and company executive. In 2005, he helped lead a shareholder revolt that resulted in the early retirement of longtime Chief Executive Michael Eisner. For many years, Roy Disney was the largest individual owner of Disney shares, which he expanded into an even larger fortune by forming investment company Shamrock Holdings with Stanley Gold.
NEXT MOVE: Jeffrey Gundlach, the star investment manager ousted from L.A.’s TCW Group in a shakeup earlier this month, has formed a new firm, DoubleLine LLC, whose backers include Howard Marks’ Oaktree Capital Management. The firm’s leaders hope to lure away many of their former TCW clients. Gundlach, TCW’s former chief investment officer, will be joined by Philip Barach, former group managing director of the mortgage-backed securities group, and more than 30 of his former team members, many of whom left after Gundlach was fired Dec. 4.
PORT TRAFFIC: A weaker dollar drove up exports at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November, but overall traffic remained down. The amount of goods leaving Los Angeles rose by 18 percent, and Long Beach numbers increased 4 percent compared with the same month last year. Total traffic, which includes both imports and empty containers shipped out for later use, was down 20 percent at Long Beach and 12 percent at Los Angeles. Port officials attributed the decline to shipping lines that downsized their vessels or sent fewer ships due to lower consumer demand. But they see the increase of exports as a good indication that the economy is on the rebound.
PROPERTY SOLD: Struggling L.A. commercial landlord Maguire Properties Inc. closed the sale of one of its most valuable properties, the Lantana Media Entertainment Campus in Santa Monica. The deal, with an estimated value of more than $200 million, is considered Los Angeles County’s largest office property sale of this year. The real estate investment trust is selling several properties and defaulting on others to raise capital and reduce debt in the depressed commercial real estate market.
DEBT DEFAULT: Image Entertainment Inc. defaulted on a $4 million payment, moving the company closer to a possible Chapter 11 reorganization. Wachovia Capital Finance Corp. is now entitled to require late fees from and apply other penalties to the struggling Chatsworth home entertainment distribution company. Image said it does not have the money to pay all of its creditors and is working with a financial adviser to explore strategic alternatives.
ACQUISITION: PC Mall Inc. said that one of its units had acquired some assets of Data Systems Worldwide Inc. PC Mall, a Torrance computer products and services provider, said Woodland Hills-based DSW’s products help companies better use Cisco Systems Inc’s business and networking software to run their businesses.
OVERSEAS EXPANSION: NetSol Technologies Inc. is forming a wholly owned subsidiary in China to better provide business software and services in that country, particularly automotive and consumer finance applications. The Calabasas company, which has operated with a representative office in Beijing, said it expects China will account for nearly 25 percent of its total revenue in fiscal 2010. It plans to offer additional business intelligence, quality assurance and consulting services in China.
PR MERGER: Entertainment public relations and marketing firms BNC and PMK/HBH said they would merge in January, with the new agency to be called PMK-BNC. PMK/HBH is one of Hollywood’s largest celebrity PR agencies, and BNC specializes in corporate clients. Both firms are owned by advertising agency giant Interpublic Group. BNC Chief Executive Michael Nyman, who will lead the merged firm, said the deal creates an agency that would better allow brands to link with A-list Hollywood celebrities.
FAMILY FEUD: An L.A. jury ruled that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt’s estranged nephews had infringed on their famous uncle’s trademark when they launched their own porn business, but did not invade his privacy and were not liable for his attorney fees. Flynt argued his name stands for quality in pornography, and his nephews were besmirching it by putting that name on “trashy” adult movies.
FILM BOARD: Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon has proposed creating a film commission that would better promote the city to the entertainment industry and stem runaway production. Alarcon, who chairs the council’s Jobs and Business Development Committee, wants a body similar to those promoting filming opportunities in other cities and states.
PRIVATE PLACEMENT: Cereplast Inc., a developer of bio-based, sustainable plastics, closed a $2.23 million private placement to accredited and institutional investors. The Hawthorne company said much of the money will be used to expand its algae-to-plastics development efforts. The company’s products are designed to replace current petroleum-based plastics.
EARNINGS: Overhill Farms Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $1.4 million, 42 percent lower than a year earlier. Revenue fell 8.6 percent to $48.5 million. … Rentech Inc. reported a fourth quarter net loss of $6.4 million, 120 percent larger than a year earlier. Revenue fell 67 percent to $24.7 million.
An item in the Dec, 14 Chief Dwellings column gave an incorrect name for the agency where Gracee Arthur works. It is Ewing and Associates Sotheby’s International Realty.
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An article in the Dec. 14 edition headlined “Fixture Makers Must Get the Lead Out” incorrectly reported Champion Arrowhead’s percentage of sales in California. The correct number is 23 percent.
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