ANOTHER SUITOR: Walt Disney Co. has reportedly entered into exclusive talks to sell its Miramax film unit to L.A. construction magnate Ron Tutor and film financier partner David Bergstein. The negotiations follow a failed attempt by Miramax co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein to buy back the art-house studio for about $600 million.
BACK TO WORK: Workers at Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane plant in Long Beach have voted to accept a new contract and end their 30-day strike. United Auto Workers Local 148, which represents about 1,700 assembly line workers at the plant, said members began returning to work last week and the plant would be fully staffed this week. The contract will improve health care and pension benefits for all union members.
SETTLEMENT: Bank of America Corp. has agreed pay $108 million to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that Countrywide Financial Corp. charged excessive fees to borrowers facing foreclosure. The money from the FTC’s largest mortgage industry-related settlement to date will be used to reimburse an estimated 200,000 homeowners whose loans were serviced by Calabasas-based Countrywide prior to its acquisition by Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America in July 2008. Bank of America did not admit or deny the charges.
SHUT DOWN: The city of Los Angeles last week began enforcing new regulations on medical marijuana stores after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected efforts to block the ordinance, which is expected to close more than 400 dispensaries.
ACQUISITION: The owner of L.A.’s oldest African-American newspaper plans to buy a competing newspaper that launched in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots. Los Angeles Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. and L.A. Watts Times publisher Melanie Polk said that they were in the final stage of an exclusive negotiation for Bakewell Media to purchase the Watts Times. Bakewell, who bought the Sentinel in 2004, said he plans to maintain the 77-year-old subscriber-supported Sentinel and advertiser-supported Watts Times as separate weekly publications, but would not say whether they would be repositioned to appeal to different audiences.
INVESTIGATION: IPC the Hospitalist Co. has disclosed that the U.S Justice Department wants to examine several years’ worth of claims that the company submitted to Medicare and Medicaid. The North Hollywood operator of in-hospital physician practices said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois is seeking documents from as far back as 2003. The public company, which has been buying physician practices at hospitals and nursing facilities around the country, said it has compliance procedures to prevent billing problems and will cooperate with the investigation.
PURCHASED: Teledyne Technologies Inc. has acquired Optimum Optical Systems, a maker of equipment used in small unmanned aerial vehicles. Thousand Oaks-based Teledyne said the acquisition of the Camarillo company would expand its capabilities in making tactical infrared imaging systems.
NEW MOVE: Carl Icahn has continued his campaign to gain control of boutique film studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. by obtaining an approval from Canadian Heritage Ministry for his unfriendly tender offer. Lions Gate is based in Vancouver, B.C., but has most of its operations in Santa Monica. Icahn Group committed to preserve Canadian control, keep Lions Gate in Canada, and maintain or increase the level of film production in Canada. Icahn has relaxed terms and extended his $7-a-share bid six times, most recently to June 16. Lions Gate management continues to argue that Icahn’s offer is inadequate.
ACQUIRED: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has said it plans to buy the government information technology unit of TechTeam Global for $59 million in cash. The Pasadena construction services firm said that the unit, TechTeam Government Solutions, and its 500 employees provide support to federal, state and local government agencies, including the U.S. Army.
EXPANSION: AMHN Inc., which provides educational video services for doctor’s office waiting rooms, said that it intends to acquire a similar company called Spectrum Health Network Inc. in a stock transaction. The Burbank company, which targets medical practices that primarily serve African-Americans, signed a letter of intent with Gordon Communications Inc. to acquire Spectrum Health Network, a waiting-room service aimed at multispecialty group practices and independent physician associations. Terms were not disclosed.
PLUGGED IN: AeroVironment Inc. has been selected to supply, install and support a network of electric vehicle recharging stations in South Carolina. The Monrovia company, which develops aerial vehicles as well as electric car charging infrastructure and other environmental engineering projects, was awarded the contract by Plug In Carolina, a non-profit.
EARNINGS: Cherokee Inc. reported first quarter net income of $2.9 million, 23 percent lower than a year earlier. Royalty revenue fell nearly 8 percent to $8.2 million.
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