BRAND SAVVY: L.A. media billionaire Haim Saban has started a brand acquisition company, Saban Brands, and plans to commit $500 million in capital to acquire established entertainment and consumer names. President of the new venture is Elie Dekel, who most recently was head of licensing and merchandising for 20th Century Fox. Dekel also worked with Saban before at Saban Entertainment and as president of Fox Family Worldwide.
NEW HEADQUARTERS: State and local officials announced that Chinese hybrid electric automaker BYD Co. will open its U.S. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. China’s fourth largest automaker expects to create at least 150 local jobs by 2011 as it rolls out its fleet of vehicles to California markets before expanding throughout the country.
POT SHOT: L.A. city prosecutors have sent letters to 439 medical marijuana dispensaries warning them that they must shut down by June 7, when an ordinance to control medical marijuana clinics will take effect. Under the ordinance, only those dispensaries that registered with the clerk in 2007, when the City Council adopted its moratorium on any new stores, can remain open. City officials estimate that between 130 and 140 of the original 186 registered dispensaries are still operating.
MERGER APPROVED: Stockholders of Zenith National Insurance Corp. voted in favor of the company’s acquisition by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. in a deal valued at $1.4 billion. The merger, which must be approved by the California Department of Insurance, is expected to close in the current quarter. Fairfax, a Toronto, Ontario, insurance holding company, is Zenith’s second largest shareholder with an 8 percent stake as of Jan 25. It will pay $38 per share in cash to acquire the remaining outstanding shares.
NO CONTRACT: Workers at Boeing Co.’s Long Beach C-17 plant overwhelmingly rejected a new labor contract. Nearly 80 percent of workers voted against a proposed 46-month contract. The contract included pay raises and a signing bonus but increased health care and pension costs for the 1,700 workers represented by United Aerospace Workers Local 148. The UAW said it hopes talks with management can resume in coming days so a strike can be avoided.
JOB SWITCH: Guess Inc. Chief Operating Officer Carlos Alberini is resigning to become co-chief executive of Northern California-based Restoration Hardware. The L.A. apparel and accessories company said that the resignation of Alberini, who also holds the title of president, will be effective June 1. The company said that he will remain on the board of directors after leaving the company. Prior to joining Guess in 2000, Alberini, 53, was chief financial officer of Footstar Inc. Guess Chief Executive Paul Marciano said the company will launch a search to replace him.
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