MAGAZINE BID: OpenGate Capital LLC, the L.A. private equity firm that purchased TV Guide for $1, is among several parties that have made a formal bid for Newsweek magazine, which has been owned by the Washington Post Co. since 1961. Other bidders include Thane Ritchie, chief executive of Ritchie Capital Management LLC and Newsmax Media Inc.
PERMIT EXPRESS: City of Los Angeles officials have unveiled a program to speed up permits for new restaurants, bars and grocery stores. The program is in response to complaints from local restaurant and bar owners that it can take up to two years to get permits to open a restaurant in the city. The “restaurant and hospitality express” program was launched on a trial basis in March and covered 14 restaurant applications. Among those trying out the program was First & Hope Supper Club, which recently opened across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
MEDIATOR SUMMONED: A labor mediator has been asked to help end a three-week strike at Boeing’s C-17 plant in Long Beach, bringing pressure to resolve a stalemate that has shut down production. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent federal agency, scheduled a meeting last week after informal discussions between Boeing and the United Aerospace Workers. It was the first time the two sides had met since the strike began May 11.
LEGISLATION: Two California lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress to retroactively raise the insurance limit on deposits held at IndyMac Bank, a move that could help former customers recover hundreds of millions of dollars lost when the thrift failed in July 2008. The Investor Deposit Yardstick Act, introduced by Reps. Jane Harman, D-Venice, and David Dreier, R-San Dimas, would raise the deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000 at the Pasadena savings and loan. Harman and Dreier said the bill could help 6,500 former IndyMac depositors recover $233 million.
ANOTHER ACQUISITION: City National Bank has acquired the assets of a Nevada institution closed by regulators. Regulators shuttered Las Vegas-based Sun West Bank just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend and sold its assets, including seven branch locations, to City National. The branches reopened as City National offices. The acquisition will nearly double City National’s footprint in Nevada, where it had eight branches prior to the Sun West deal.
TO TRIAL: A suit filed by “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” creator Celador International against the Walt Disney Co. six years ago finally went to trial in a Riverside district court last week. Celador, which brought the popular U.K. series to the United States in the late 1990s, alleges that Walt Disney/ABC, Buena Vista Television and Valleycrest Productions employed overly complicated accounting arrangements and deflated payments to bilk it out of more than $270 million.
MARKETING FRIENDS: Walt Disney Co. launched a first-of-its-kind application that allows Facebook users to buy tickets to “Toy Story 3” without leaving the social networking site and potentially drives sales by the person’s friends. Disney Tickets Together encourages those who use the app to buy tickets to also invite their Facebook friends to buy tickets. The app works in conjunction with ticket-buying sites such as Fandango.com.
YOUBET BOUGHT: Churchill Downs Inc. has completed its merger with Burbank online horse wagering service YouBet.com Inc. The Louisville, Ky., horse racetrack owner is paying YouBet shareholders 0.0591 of a share of new Churchill Downs stock and 99 cents in cash for each YouBet share. Churchill Downs, whose shares were trading at $32.85 before the deal closed last week, is issuing about 2.7 million shares and paying nearly $45.3 million in cash. YouBet will be integrated with Churchill Downs’ TwinSpires.com betting service.
VIETNAM EXPANSION: CKE Restaurants Inc. has opened its first Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Vietnam. The Carpinteria-based fast-food chain said it is the first major Western quick-service hamburger chain to open in that market. The restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City is the first of at least 25 Carl’s Jr.’s to be opened in the country over the next six years. The restaurants will be operated by Mesa Asia Pacific Trading Services Company Ltd., a unit of holding company Mesa Group Inc. In addition to existing operations in China, Singapore, Malaysia and American Samoa, CKE also plans to enter Indonesia.
ACQUISITION PLANNED: VCA Antech Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire a publicly held competitor, Pet Drx Corp., in a stock-and-cash deal valued at more than $41 million. Pet Drx, based in Brentwood, Tenn., operates 23 animal hospitals – including several in California – with annual revenue of about $64 million. L.A.-based VCA Antech operates animal hospitals and labs in 40 states. A majority of Pet Drx stockholders have already signed off on the acquisition, company said.
FEMA CONTRACT: Aecom Technology Corp. has been awarded a contract valued at up to $150 million from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the agency’s Hazard Mitigation Technical Assistance Program. The L.A. provider of technical and management support services said it will support the assistance program’s response before and after coastal flooding and hurricanes as well as dam and levee failures, wildfires and severe storms. The contract includes a one-year base period and four one-year option periods.
EARNINGS: UTi Worldwide Inc. reported first quarter net income of $10.1 million, up 2.5 percent from a year ago. Revenue rose 37 percent to $1.06 billion.
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