DISCOURAGED WORKERS: Los Angeles County's unemployment rate dipped to 11.3 percent in June from a record 11.6 percent the prior month. It's believed that residents grew discouraged and left the work force. The figures were well above the June 2008 rate of 7.4 percent. The overall job picture continued to worsen. The county lost 188,000 jobs in the last year, a 4.6 percent decline. The losses are spread throughout the economy, with manufacturing, retail trade, motion pictures and hospitality services continuing to shed jobs.
BUSINESS SOLD: Health Net Inc. said that UnitedHealth Group Inc. has agreed to acquire its Northeast health insurance operations for about $510 million. The deal, subject to federal and state regulatory review, covers 578,000 members in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The sale follows a U.S. Department of Defense decision to cancel Woodland Hills-based Health Net's long-standing contract to provide health care to military personnel in 20 East Coast and Midwest states. The contract was awarded to Aetna Inc.
SABAN SUED: Matthew Krane, the former longtime tax attorney of L.A. media mogul Haim Saban, filed a lawsuit against Saban on Tuesday over $36 million in fees related to an Isle of Man tax shelter that had been declared invalid. In the suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Krane seeks to regain control of an offshore bank account that allegedly holds $36 million he is accused of receiving as a kickback for advising Saban to shelter hundreds of millions of dollars from capital gains taxes. Saban has blocked Krane's Austrian account with a suit in Vienna, according to court documents.
OIL DISCOVERED: Occidental Petroleum Corp. announced what it called the largest oil and gas discovery in the state in 35 years on its Kern County property. The L.A. oil and natural gas producer said it believed 150 million to 250 million gross barrels had been found at the property. About two-thirds of the find is in natural gas. Chief Executive Ray Irani said the company already has drilled six wells and plans to add more over the next five to 10 years. Occidental also reported its second quarter net income dropped 70 percent to $682 million, largely due to lower oil and natural gas prices. Revenue fell 48 percent to $3.7 billion.
FUNDING DROPS: Venture capital funding in Los Angeles County tailed off sharply in the second quarter, hitting lows not seen in nearly 12 years, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association. Venture capitalists invested $74.8 million in local startups between April and June, down 40 percent from the first quarter, and the lowest total since the third quarter of 1997. Eighteen transactions were announced last quarter, the lowest since the beginning of 2003. The largest local transaction was a $10.4 million investment in OpenX Technologies Inc., a Pasadena company specializing in online advertising.
FIELD SOLD: BreitBurn Energy Partners LP sold its Lazy JL Field in West Texas to an unnamed private individual for $23 million. Proceeds will be used to pay down debt. The field, which the L.A. independent oil and gas producer called a noncore property, accounted for approximately 1 percent of the partnership's total estimated proved reserves.
CARGO SLOWS: The Port of Los Angeles reported that cargo movement was down by 13 percent in June compared with the same month last year. Last month, 551,680 standard cargo container units, or TEUs, moved through Los Angeles terminals, compared with 632,280 TEUs in June 2008. The latest cargo numbers show the Los Angeles port has fared better than its neighbor in Long Beach, which reported cargo movement down 29 percent in June.
LICENSING DEAL: Joe's Jeans Inc. said that it signed a license agreement with Vogue Trimmings Inc. to manufacture and distribute Joe's branded belts for men, women, girls and boys. The new line will debut in September at the trade shows in Las Vegas and New York, the Commerce company said. Vogue Trimmings, founded by Frank Valensi, is an L.A. manufacturer of belts and decorative belt buckles for licensed brands and private labels sold in Macy's, Nordstrom and other major retailers.
SHOW TIME: TV Guide Network, better known for its scrolling TV listings, said that it signed a deal with Disney-ABC Domestic Television to acquire exclusive basic cable rights to the hit television series "Ugly Betty." It will be the first scripted series to appear on the network. The agreement includes rights to repeat shows from the new season after they first run on ABC. In addition, a sister Web site, TVGuide.com, will be able to stream up to five episodes at a time online. The network and Web site were recently acquired by Santa Monic's Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which now owns it in a joint venture with One Equity Partners, the private equity firm of JPMorgan Chase.
EARNINGS: Northrop Grumman Corp. reported second quarter net income of $394 million, 20 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue rose 3.8 percent to $8.96 billion. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. reported a second quarter net loss of $5.79 million, compared with net income of nearly $157 million a year ago. Revenue dropped 41 percent to $1.24 billion. Skechers USA Inc. reported a second quarter net loss of $5.9 million, compared with net income of $14.6 million a year ago. Revenue fell 16 percent to $299 million. Zenith National Insurance Corp. reported second quarter net income of $1.8 million, 96 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue fell 20 percent to $139 million, compared with $174 million in the previous year period. Teledyne Technologies Inc. reported second quarter net income of $25.2 million, 23 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue fell 8 percent to $441 million.
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