MGM OFFER: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. has sent a merger proposal to Century City film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Lions Gate, which has its studio in Santa Monica but its corporate headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, is offering as much as $1.8 billion in stock and debt under a plan that would give MGM creditors a 55 percent stake in the combined studio. MGM, which is trying to exit bankruptcy, is considering a rival bid from independent film producer Spyglass Entertainment. Lions Gate’s offer has the support of its largest shareholder, activist investor Carl Icahn, who opposed earlier efforts to merge the two studios.
FOOD GRADE: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved an ordinance that requires about 6,000 lunch catering trucks and lunch carts to display letter grades assigned by county health inspectors. The California Restaurant Association and the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association initially opposed the new rules.
GOING INDEPENDENT: KCET, the most prominent of Southern California’s public television stations, plans to leave the PBS network and become an independent non-profit station. PBS annual dues are based in large part on a station’s non-federal revenue, and KCET said it saw large spikes earlier in the decade due to corporate grants for its locally produced children’s show “A Place of Our Own.”
STADIUM MAKEOVER: The Pasadena City Council approved a $152 million renovation plan for the 88-year-old Rose Bowl stadium, and also approved 30-year lease extensions with UCLA and the Tournament of Roses. To avoid disrupting games, construction will run in three phases starting in January and ending in 2013. The number of luxury seats will be increased from about 550 to 2,500. Plans also call for the addition of a new scoreboard, more restrooms and concession stands, and safety improvements. The city plans to pay for the upgrade with federal stimulus funds, a bond issue, money from the Tournament of Roses and profits from previous games.
MERGER APPROVED: New Jersey drug maker Celgene Corp.’s acquisition of Abraxis Bioscience Inc. was expected to close late last week after shareholders of the Los Angeles biotech approved the $3 billion merger. Approval of the cash-and-stock deal was a foregone conclusion since Abraxis’ billionaire founder and executive chairman, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, controls about 82 percent of shares. Abraxis developed the breast cancer drug Abraxane and is seeking FDA approval to market it to treat additional cancers.
FRAUD SCHEME: Federal officials have accused an Armenian-American crime ring based in Los Angeles and New York of defrauding Medicare of more than $35 million by using stolen doctor and patient identities and setting up dozens of phony clinics coast-to-coast. Members, including a top L.A. ringleader named Armen Kazarian, were taken into custody during a national Medicare fraud sweep. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said the case was among the largest-ever Medicare fraud rings it had investigated.
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