SUGAR FREE: Northrop Grumman Corp. said that Chief Executive Ronald Sugar plans to retire at the end of the year. The Los Angeles defense contractor said Sugar, 61, will be replaced as CEO on Jan. 1 by Wes Bush, the company’s current president and chief operating officer. Bush, 48, has been elected to the board, effective immediately. Sugar also serves as Northrop’s chairman. When he retires, lead independent director Lewis W. Coleman, 67, will become the board’s non-executive chairman. Sugar will continue advising the company as chairman emeritus until his official retirement date of June 30, 2010.

ACQUIRED: Aerospace company Hi-Shear Technology Corp. said it has agreed to be acquired by a British company for $132 million in cash. The Torrance company, which makes components for rockets and satellites, said it signed a definitive merger agreement with Chemring Group PLC, a London defense contractor. Hi-Shear stockholders would receive $19.18 per share, a 61 percent premium over Hi-Shear’s Tuesday closing stock price. Chemring, which makes materials for the defense industry, said that it expects to close the deal in the fourth quarter pending shareholder and other approvals.

MALIBU SCANDAL: Wells Fargo & Co. fired an employee accused of using a bank-owned home in the exclusive Malibu Colony for personal use. Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president, had been seen using the beachfront home by neighbors after the bank acquired it from the former owners, who were victims in the Bernard Madoff fraud case. The couple had been forced to sign over the property to Wells Fargo to help satisfy a larger debt. The bank investigated after reports in the Los Angeles Times.

RECOVERY DELAY: California’s economy will continue to shed jobs at a rapid rate through the rest of this year and the job picture will remain flat for 2010. Growth will only resume in 2011, according to the latest UCLA Anderson Quarterly Forecast. The state’s unemployment rate will top out at 12.2 percent in fourth quarter 2009 and fall back slightly to an average 11.6 percent for 2010, a slight improvement from UCLA Anderson’s bleak forecast issued three months ago. Since then, national consumer confidence ticked up quicker than expected, forecast author Jerry Nickelsburg wrote in the report.

BAN UPHELD: In a victory for Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit let stand a U.S. ban on the sale of Roche Holding AG’s Mircera. Amgen, a marketer of a profitable line of anemia drugs, accused Roche in 2005 of patent infringement. Mircera, which is available in several other countries, is most comparable to Amgen’s original anemia drug, Epogen, which had U.S. sales of $2.5 billion in 2008.

MARKET MOVE: Nasdaq has lured Mattel Inc. away from the New York Stock Exchange, with the El Segundo toymaker set to begin trading on the exchange’s highest-tier Global Select Market on Sept. 28. The company will continue to trade under the ticker symbol MAT. The NYSE historically has been the more prestigious exchange, but Nasdaq has become more competitive in recent years due its many high-tech listings and has added more consumer companies.

PORT IMPROVEMENT: Cargo traffic at area seaports has steadily increased over the summer, according to new statistics. Traffic at the Port of Long Beach rose 19 percent from June to August, and Port of Los Angeles traffic rose 11 percent in the same period. Traffic had been declining at both ports until June. Traffic at both ports was significantly lower than it was the year before. The Los Angeles port noted that traffic was strong in August 2008, and that a year-to-year comparison showed the effects of the recession.

TANKER CONTRACT: Defense Secretary Robert Gates restored the Air Force’s authority to select the winner of a $35 billion contract for aerial refueling tankers between Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. Gates last summer stripped the service’s ability to award a contract because a Government Accountability Office report found the Air Force failed to evaluate both proposals on the same merits. Northrop, and its partner Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. N.V., beat out rival Boeing for the deal to replace 179 tankers last? February 2008?, but Boeing successfully protested the award.

CHAPTER 11: Downey Regional Medical Center Hospital Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but said the hospital and emergency room would remain open during the reorganization. The 537-bed facility largely serves patients without any insurance or those who qualify for Medi-Cal, which pays hospitals less than private insurance. The hospital’s cash reserves ran out in March 2008, leaving the facility unable to respond to last year’s credit crunch. State data indicates the hospital lost $10 million in the year ended June 30, 2008.

NEW LEADERSHIP: The board of Pacific Office Properties Trust Inc. has appointed Chairman Jay H. Shidler chief executive and Lawrence J. Taff chief financial officer on an interim basis. Former CEO Dallas E. Lucas left the Santa Monica real estate investment trust Aug. 31 after his employment agreement expired. Former CFO James M. Kasim resigned his post effective Sept. 4.

DEBT Buyback: DirecTV Group Inc. has launched a tender offer to buy back as much as $910 million of debt. The El Segundo company, the nation’s largest satellite TV operator, said it will buy back any and all of the outstanding principal of senior notes due in 2013 at a rate of $1,031.25 per $1,000 amount of principal, plus any unpaid interest. Separately, its DirecTV Holdings LLC and DirecTV Financing Co Inc. units sold $2 billion of senior notes, split evenly between securities due in 2014 and 2019.

EARNINGS: CKE Restaurants Inc. reported second quarter net income of $12.3 million, 1 percent lower than a year ago. Revenue fell nearly 5 percent to $336 million. … Farmer Bros. Co. reported a fourth quarter net loss of $25.6 million. Net sales rose 69 percent to $113 million.

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