STEPPING DOWN? Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chief Executive Ray Irani is expected to set a date for retiring in 2011, although he’ll continue as chairman. The report comes after two of Occidental’s institutional shareholders, angry at high executive compensation at the company, launched a proxy fight for board seats. Irani, 75, has topped the Business Journal’s list of highest-paid chief executives in the L.A. area for five straight years, with a $31.4 million compensation package in 2009. Stephen Chazen, who was promoted to chief operating officer in August, is Irani’s likely successor.
CASE CLOSED: The Securities and Exchange Commission has informed KB Home that it has completed its investigation into potential accounting and disclosure violations by the company and would not recommend any enforcement action. The SEC began the investigation of the L.A. homebuilder in 2009. A year earlier, Bruce Karatz, former chairman and chief executive, paid nearly $7.2 million to settle SEC charges of backdating stock options. A Los Angeles federal jury in April found Karatz guilty of two counts of mail fraud in connection with the case. He has appealed.
DIVORCE TRIAL: The high-profile divorce trial of Frank and Jamie McCourt began last week, with Frank McCourt denying that he had tampered with documents regarding ownership rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His divorce attorneys contend that a hired lawyer may have corrected a mistake, but made no material change in a version of the document. The couple drew up the agreement in 2004 to list their homes in Jamie McCourt’s name, and the Dodgers and other assets in Frank McCourt’s in order to protect their homes from business creditors.
BETTER BID: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has raised his bid for control of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. to $7.50 per share, up from $6.50. Icahn, the largest single investor after an earlier tender offer, said his new offer will only be valid if shares recently issued in an effort to dilute his stake are rescinded or converted into nonvoting stock. The company, with corporate headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, and studio operations in Santa Monica, said that it will consider whether to recommend shareholders accept Icahn’s latest bid.
MIRAMAX WRINKLE: Morgan Creek founder James Robinson, who reportedly had been prepared to contribute as much as $100 million toward Ron Tutor's $660 million purchase of Walt Disney Co.'s boutique studio Miramax, has pulled out over terms of his role in the company. Another potential investor, retired engineer and philanthropist Jerome Swartz, reportedly also has pulled out of the deal. But Tutor's Filmyard Holdings LLC said sufficient money has been committed to do the deal.
NEW CEO: Van Nuys apparel and home décor licensing company Cherokee Inc. has named Henry Stupp chief executive officer and director. Stupp, a native of Montreal, is a founder of Novel Teez Designs, which manufactures apparel under licensing agreements. During his 20 years with the company, he negotiated more than 200 licensing deals. He succeeds Cherokee’s founder, Robert Margolis, who will continue as executive chairman.
ACKERMAN DIES: San Fernando Valley civic and business leader Bruce Ackerman has died of throat cancer. He was 64. For the past 10 years, Ackerman had served as president and chief executive of the economic and community development organization Valley Economic Alliance and was considered the highest-profile representative of business interests in the Valley. He also was on the board of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, and earlier had run several chambers of commerce and business groups.
BRATZ SUIT: Mattel Inc. has filed suit against longtime Van Nuys rival MGA Entertainment Inc. to preserve its right to the Bratz doll assets if Mattel wins an upcoming retrial over the doll line. Mattel of El Segundo has expressed concern that Neil Kadisha’s Omni 808 Investors LLC, a creditor that Mattel claims is friendly to MGA Chief Executive Isaac Larian, could end up with a superior claim even if Mattel wins the new trial, set to start in January. An appeals court in July ruled that Mattel was wrongly awarded ownership of the Bratz line in a 2008 jury trial.
NEW SALVO: Ron Burkle’s investment firm, Yucaipa Cos., has denied accusations that it intends to take control of Barnes & Noble, as the New York bookstore chain stepped up its attacks against the L.A. billionaire investor. Yucaipa said it was trying to maximize value for shareholders and alleged the bookseller’s board was unwilling to stand up to Chairman Leonard Riggio, who is trying to take the company private.
MALL FACELIFT: Simon Property Group, which owns Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center, has said that it will spend $200 million to upgrade the aging mall. City officials, worried about falling sales tax revenue at the center, had been pressuring the Indianapolis company to take steps to improve business there.
CHANNELS DROPPED: AT&T Inc. has dropped Crown Media Holdings’ two Hallmark channels from its U-verse cable TV lineup after the companies failed to reach a new contract. About 2.5 million AT&T U-verse customers are affected by the decision.
In an Aug. 30 article headlined “Shoemaker Steps Up Defense of Popular Fitness Line,” the last name of Robert Girandola was misspelled.
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The headline on the Aug. 30 Advertising & PR column misidentified the public relations agency handling Chelsea Paris. The correct name is Garage Public Relations.
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In the Aug. 30 Profile article headlined “Seeing the Big Picture,” the company that constructed the platforms and sets for the “Eclipse: Twilight” and “Despicable Me” premieres was misidentified. The correct name is Angel City Designs.
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