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.
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