POSSIBLE MERGER: Live Nation Inc. and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. were said to be in merger talks. The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster, according to one report, and would be able to offer management of everything from recorded music to ticket sales and tour sponsorships. The deal, which likely would face antitrust scrutiny, would create a music industry powerhouse with a combined market value of more than $700 million. Live Nation is based in Beverly Hills. Ticketmaster is based in West Hollywood.

NEW PARTNERSHIP: Ryland Group Inc. and Oaktree Capital Management LLC have formed a limited liability company to acquire and develop distressed residential real estate projects. The new company will take advantage of the Calabasas-based homebuilder's real estate development expertise, but has struggled since the end of the boom. An L.A.-based hedge fund, Oaktree Capital has more than $55 billion in assets under management and is known for investing in distressed sectors.

JOB CUTS: THQ Inc. said it plans to cut nearly one-quarter of its work force in response to a slowing market for its video games. The Agoura Hills company said it would reduce staff by 600 people by fiscal 2010 and trim spending by $220 million. THQ also reported a third quarter net loss of nearly $192 million, compared with net income of $15.5 million a year ago. Revenue fell 30 percent to $357 million.

STRIKE AVERTED: Southern California Gas Co. reached a tentative contract accord with union negotiators, averting a strike by most of its 7,600 employees. SoCal Gas, the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, and Local 132 of the Utility Workers Union of America agreed on a new three-year labor contract, which still must be approved by the membership later this month.

MERGER TROUBLES: Image Entertainment Inc. said Nyx Acquisitions Inc. was in breach of a merger agreement between the two companies because it failed to make a required $1.3 million payment by Jan. 20. The Chatsworth-based home entertainment distributor said it was considering options, including terminating the deal, because San Francisco-based Nyx didn't make the deadline payment. Image agreed to sell itself to Nyx for $60.2 million in cash, plus assumption of debt, in November.

CHECKING IN: Hilton Hotels Corp., which last month announced it was leaving Beverly Hills, said it had chosen Fairfax County, Va., as its new corporate home. Hilton, which wants to lower its cost of doing business, said the state and county offered incentives valued at $4.6 million in cash grants and other incentives. Hilton said it plans to spend at least $17 million in the move and create more than 300 full-time jobs in Fairfax County within the next 36 months.

NEW ENERGY: The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power signed an agreement with Mexico's federal power utility to buy up to 100 megawatts of geothermal energy. The agreement enables the DWP to make wholesale purchases of up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by a geothermal facility in Baja California.

SECOND THOUGHTS: 99 Cents Only Stores may reconsider its plans to leave the Texas market as sales in the state have significantly improved in the last month. The City of Commerce-based discount chain said it still will close one-third of its 46 Texas stores, but it will keep an eye on the performance of the remaining locations for up to six months. The Commerce retailer also reported net income of $12.5 million, up 31 percent from a year ago. Revenue rose 8 percent to $351 million.

STOCK OFFERING: Anworth Mortgage Asset Corp. said it plans a public offering of 8 million shares of its common stock, with the $46 million in net proceeds to be used to buy mortgage-backed securities. The Santa Monica-based company Wednesday priced the offering at $6.10 per share for gross proceeds of $48.8 million. Anworth, which was hurt by the housing market downturn, expects the offering to close Feb. 9. The securities being purchased are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or federal agency Ginnie Mae.

Chips Down: International Rectifier Corp. plans to close its El Segundo semiconductor plant and consolidate operations at its Temecula facility, eliminating 850 jobs. The maker of power management semiconductor chips expects the staff reductions to save about $55.7 million annually. The closure and layoffs followed the company's report of a second quarter net loss of $186 million compared with a net loss of $4.5 million a year ago. Revenue fell 28 percent to nearly $190 million.

Another Chip: International Rectifier Corp. lost its battle with ousted Chief Executive Alexander Lidow when a Los Angeles federal judge dismissed the company's lawsuit over alleged theft of trade secrets. The El Segundo maker of power management chips had alleged that Lidow stole information and intellectual property related to the company's $60 million secret research. Federal Judge Manuel Real ruled the company failed to properly plead its claim.

EARNINGS: Walt Disney Co. reported first quarter net income of $845 million, down 32 percent from a year ago. Revenue fell 8 percent to $9.6 billion. ... Northrop Grumman Corp. reported fourth quarter net loss of $2.54 billion, compared with net income of $457 million a year ago. Fourth quarter revenue rose 4 percent to $9.15 billion. Mattel Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $176 million, down 46 percent from a year ago. Revenue fell 11 percent to $1.94 billion. Health Net Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $35.5 million, down 70 percent from a year ago. Revenue rose 8 percent to $3.87 billion. Nara Bancorp Inc. reported a third quarter net loss of $9.9 million, compared with net income of $8.3 million a year ago. Net interest income fell 10 percent to $22.7 million.

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