DIRECTV MERGER: DirecTV, the satellite television provider, said it would merge with a division to be spun off from Liberty Media in an all-stock transaction that will give media mogul John Malone and his family a 24 percent voting stake in the new entity. DirecTV will join with Liberty Entertainment, a unit of Liberty Media that Liberty said last fall it would spin off. Liberty Entertainment was to hold a 54 percent equity stake in DirecTV as well as Liberty Sports Holdings, which owns three regional sports networks, and a 65 percent interest in Game Show Network and Fun Technologies.
BOND BUST: Carl Ichan's $325 million bid for convertible bonds issued by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. had few takers, hampering the activist investor's attempts to gain more influence over the Santa Monica independent film and TV studio. Bondholders only sold about $583,000 face amount of the debt by the May 1 deadline. Icahn, who controls 15 percent of the company's shares and wants seats on the board, first announced the campaign on March 12, and upped his bid after initial lackluster response.
SELLING ASSETS: Concert promoter Live Nation Inc. said it plans to pay down debt by selling three well-known Boston theaters, including the Boston Opera House, for about $22.5 million. The Beverly Hills company, which plans to merge with competitor Ticketmaster later this year, later reported a first quarter net loss of $103 million, 177 percent larger than a year ago. A drop in attendance at its North American concerts contributed to a 6 percent decline in revenue to $499 million.
CEO LEAVING: Crown Media Holdings Inc. said Chief Executive Henry Schleiff was stepping down and William J. Abbott, executive vice president, advertising sales, will replace him. Schleiff, who has been CEO at Crown since October 2006, said he plans to "return to his passion of helping smaller cable networks achieve their potential," and that the decision was amicable. Abbott, who worked at various Fox channels before coming to Crown, will take over as CEO and president in June. Studio City-based Crown runs Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel cable channels.
LABOR DISPUTE: Workers at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach Hotel filed a class-action suit against the hotel's owners, alleging that management failed to pay overtime and provide adequate meal and rest breaks. The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that managers at the 528-room Hyatt Global Corp. hotel set quotas of up to 30 rooms a day for each housekeeper, forcing several to work overtime and forego meal and rest periods. In addition to the suit, Unite HERE Local 11 hotel workers union announced a campaign to unionize the more than 300 workers at the hotel.
DISTRIBUTION DEAL: Image Entertainment Inc. signed a five-year distribution deal with Universal Music Group to distribute Image's urban content in Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East. The Chatsworth company said the agreement covers DVD, Blu-ray, digital and television broadcast rights and music from its entire catalog of music and music-related urban titles and upcoming titles. The company's catalog includes albums by R.Kelly and the late Notorious B.I.G.
METHANE TIME: State regulators approved two long-term gas-to-energy contracts for Southern California Edison. The California Public Utilities Commission approved gas-to-energy plants Edison proposed at landfills near Bakersfield and Redlands, using new technology that requires less methane gas than previous methods. The Bakersfield plant could generate up to 5 megawatts of power, and the Redlands plant could generate up to 2 megawatts. Both contracts are set to begin in 2012 and last 20 years.
COLLEGE BOUND: George Kieffer, a prominent L.A. attorney and business leader, has been nominated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the University of California Board of Regents. Kieffer, 61, a Los Angeles resident, is a partner in the West Los Angeles law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, where he is chairman of the government and regulatory policy division. A longtime Democrat and civic leader, Kieffer was chairman of one of the two city charter reform commissions during the administration of former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Kieffer also served as chairman for two years of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, during which time he worked to boost the chamber's political activism. And he served as president of the board of governors of the California Community College system.
EARNINGS: Walt Disney Co. reported net income of $613 million, 46 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue dropped 7 percent to $8 billion. True Religion Apparel Inc. reported net income of $7.6 million, 10 percent higher than a year ago. Net sales rose 19 percent to $63.6 million. Herbalife Ltd. reported net income of $41.5 million, 32 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue fell 14 percent to $522 million. Warner Music Group Corp. reported a net loss of $68 million, 84 percent larger than a year ago. Revenue fell 17 percent to $668 million. ValueClick Inc. reported first quarter net income of $13.2 million, 31 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue fell 20 percent to $135 million. Health Net Inc. reported net income of $22 million, compared with a net loss of $35.7 million a year ago. Revenue rose 3 percent to $3.93 billion. United Online Inc. reported net income of $16.4 million, 27 percent higher than a year ago. Revenue rose 116 percent to $264 million. Mercury General Corp. reported net income of $96.7 million, compared with a net loss of $4 million a year ago. Net premiums earned fell 8 percent to $666 million. California Pizza Kitchen Inc. reported net income of $2.6 million, 4 percent higher than a year ago. Revenue fell 2 percent to $161 million.
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