LAID OFF: Mannkind Inc. has announced it will lay off 41 percent of its employees as it focuses on obtaining regulatory approval for its inhaled diabetes drug Afrezza. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month told the Valencia biotech that it wouldn’t approve Afrezza until the company conducted additional human studies. The company most recently said it had about 400 employees in Valencia and other sites, so about 160 people may be affected.
KILLED: Video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. is pulling the plug on the “Guitar Hero” line. The Santa Monica company cited continued declines in the music genre for its decision. “Warriors of Rock,” the latest game in the “Guitar Hero” line, sold only 86,000 units in its first week last fall, compared with the 1.5 million that “Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock” sold in its first five days in 2007. The company sees more interest in games with strong online components such as its “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” franchises.
PARTNERS: L.A. billionaire Ron Burkle is partnering with former Lakers star and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson to take over Vibe Holdings LLC, a New York urban media company with properties that include Vibe magazine and the library of the “Soul Train” TV show. Johnson will become chairman and the current management team will stay in place.
ACQUIRED: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has reached a deal to buy the shares it does not own of Pasadena’s Wesco Financial Corp. in a cash-and-stock deal worth more than $547 million. Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire held about 80 percent of Wesco, which is run by longtime associate and Berkshire’s vice chairman, Charlie Munger. The cash-and-stock deal will give each Wesco shareholder $387 a share. Wesco has businesses in insurance, furniture rental and steel services.
OBIT: Lee K. Harrington, former chief executive of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., died Feb. 4 while surfing near his home in Santa Barbara County. He was 64. A former energy industry executive, Harrington ran LAEDC from 1995 to 2006. After retiring, Harrington became executive director of the Southern California Leadership Council. He also had his own consulting and energy investment business, Harrington Resources LLC.
SOLD: Commercial real estate investment firm Ocean West Capital Partners has purchased Tribeca West, one of L.A.’s largest entertainment industry office complexes. The Olympic Boulevard property in West Los Angeles was sold for a reported $58 million by Broadreach Capital Partners, a Palo Alto commercial real estate investment firm. Tenants include the postproduction operations of Disney, HBO and NBC Studios.
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