BURKLE SHOPS: L.A. billionaire supermarket mogul Ronald Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. has accumulated 7 percent of Whole Foods Markets Inc. shares over the past two months, and said in a regulatory filing that it intends to become an activist shareholder. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods is facing a Federal Trade Commission challenge to its 2007 purchase of Wild Oats Markets Inc., of which Yucaipa had been a significant owner. Yucaipa said in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Burkle believes shares of the upscale natural and organic foods grocery chain are undervalued, and there are substantial opportunities for the company to improve operations and "pricing image." The filing did not rule out a possible push for a sale of the company.
INDYMAC SOLD: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said a consortium of private equity and hedge fund firms has agreed to buy the assets of IndyMac Federal Bank in a deal valued at $13.9 billion. The FDIC, which took over the failed Pasadena mortgage lender in July, is selling the bank's assets to IMB Management Holdings LP. The group's leaders include buyout specialist Christopher Flowers; hedge fund operator John Paulson; and Steve Mnuchin, the chairman of Dune Capital and a former Goldman Sachs executive. The Office of Thrift Supervision has granted preliminary clearance to IMB's application to operate IndyMac as a federal savings association under the office's supervision.
MGA UPDATE: U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson issued an order allowing MGA Entertainment Inc. to continue to manufacture and sell the popular Bratz doll line at least through the end of the 2009 retail season. Larson last month imposed a permanent injunction on MGA after a jury found that the Bratz line infringed on Mattel patents. A delay in enforcing the ban is a partial victory for MGA, which originally asked the Riverside judge to delay enforcing the injunction until the Van Nuys toymaker could appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Larson's decision gives retailers some certainty that the dolls will be available this year.
COURTROOM DRAMA: In a high-profile trial that opened last week in a Los Angeles court, Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa accused longtime television partner Univision Communications Inc. of heavy-handed tactics as Televisa sought better terms for its popular Spanish-language soap operas, plus more than $100 million in royalties it believes it is owed. New York-based Univision, which was based in Los Angeles before being taken private in a 2007 buyout, is the nation's top Spanish-language TV broadcaster. Televisa's "telenovelas" account for the bulk of Univision's top-rated shows.
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