HILLBILLY SUIT: Actress Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett on the 1960s hit show “The Beverly Hillbillies” has settled a lawsuit concerning a Barbie doll that uses her character’s name and likeness. Douglas’ attorney told the Associated Press that the actress had settled with CBS and toymaker Mattel Inc. She sought at least $75,000, but terms of the settlement were not disclosed. On “Hillbillies,” Douglas played the daughter of Jed Clampett, patriarch of a backwoods family that strikes oil and moves to Beverly Hills. The series ran for nine seasons on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Douglas claimed that CBS Consumer Products Inc. and Mattel needed her approval for the special edition doll, but the companies maintained that the network held exclusive rights to the character.
INDIA MOVE: Walt Disney Co. has announced it will buy more shares in Indian media conglomerate UTV Software and delist the company. The Burbank entertainment company already owns 50 percent of Mumbai-based UTV, which makes movies, operates TV channels and produces video games for the fast-growing Indian market. Analysts believe Disney wants control of the company to get more involved in Indian film production. Disney plans to buy the stock between Jan. 16 and 20 at a dollar-equivalent price of $15.70 to $18.80 per share. The company hopes to buy about 30 percent of outstanding shares for about $384 million, giving it more than an 80 percent stake in UTV, which it would then delist. The remaining shares would be owned by RS Group, a diversified New Delhi-based investment firm.
AFRICAN ORDER: Capstone Turbine Corp. has received an order for two turbines from a Nigerian pharmaceutical company. The Chatsworth manufacturer said the company will use its turbines to generate power and heat for the manufacturing process. Capstone didn’t identify the Nigerian drug maker by name, but said the sale was the result of a meeting with Nigerian officials arranged by U.S. diplomats Dec. 14. “The meeting provided a tremendous opportunity for Capstone to support the U.S. government’s national export initiative and grow our sales throughout Nigeria, especially in the industrial and oil and gas markets,” Jim Crouse, Capstone’s executive vice president of sales, said in a statement. Makon Power Systems, the distributor of Capstone turbines in Nigeria, expects to secure several more orders in the African nation, the company said.
DEBT PAYMENT: Cereplast, a maker of biodegradable plastics based in El Segundo, announced that the company has increased its allowance for bad debts by $1.7 million even as it assured investors all outstanding receivables will be collected. The company said its two largest debtors owe $7.6 million and $6.1 million, representing about 65 percent of outstanding invoices. Cereplast said the customers will pay by February. In November, the company announced that the European debt crisis had affected its business because Euro zone customers were holding on to their cash rather than paying their bills. About half of Cereplast’s business comes from Italy, where a January 2010 law banned petroleum-based plastic bags, creating a demand for the company’s alternative plant-based plastic.
MORE TRAVEL: Passenger traffic at Los Angeles International Airport in November rose nearly 4 percent from a year earlier, according to the latest figures. City agency Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX, reported that about 4.9 million passengers traveled through the airport in November, up 3.7 percent from the previous November’s 4.7 million. That marks a slight rebound for LAX, which saw traffic grow by less than 3 percent in October after six months of solid growth. From April through September, traffic increased year over year between 5 percent and 10 percent each month. For the first 11 months of the year, passenger traffic is up 5.2 percent.
NEW CEO: Directors of Response Genetics Inc. have appointed Thomas A. Bologna as chief executive and they elected him chairman. The L.A. developer of diagnostic tests for cancer said Bologna replaced Denise McNairn, who had been serving as interim chief executive since July 22, when founder Kathleen Danenberg stepped down to focus on her role as scientific and technology officer. Former Chairman Kirk K. Calhoun will remain on the board, and was elected to the newly created position of lead director. McNairn will continue to serve as the company’s vice president, general counsel and secretary.
COUNTRYWIDE DEAL: Federal officials have announced a $355 million agreement with Countrywide Financial Corp. It was described as the largest fair-lending settlement in history. The U.S. Department of Justice case against Countrywide – the Calabasas mortgage lender now owned by Bank of America – alleged that between 2004 and 2008 the company practiced lending discrimination against more than 200,000 qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers. The families were charged higher fees and interest rates than white borrowers with similar qualifications, the Justice Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development alleged. Countrywide, which was a public company before BofA bought it in 2008, allowed loan officers and mortgage brokers to vary interest rates and other fees based on a borrower’s race rather than credit qualifications.
AGENCIES ABOLISHED: The state acted legally when it abolished more than 400 redevelopment agencies to help close a budget gap, but overstepped the law by permitting some of the agencies to survive if they shared their property tax revenue, the California Supreme Court ruled. The ruling was a major blow to cities and redevelopment agencies, which were authorized by law since 1945 and responsible for the creation of such neighborhoods as Old Pasadena, and a victory for state officials grappling with budget shortfalls. Redevelopment agency proponents said that the agencies have created jobs and bustling neighborhoods. Critics contend they have starved schools and the state of scarce tax revenue and in some cases invested the public’s money foolishly.
CLEAN PANDA: The owners of Rosemead-based Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express are getting into the dry-cleaning business. Co-Chief Executives Andrew and Peggy Cherng, who brought Asian cooking to malls across the United States, now want to bring the same chain-venue principle to clean clothing. The Cherngs’ new Rosemead company, Panda Dry Cleaning, plans to open as many as 200 shops nationwide in the next five years in a partnership with Cincinnati consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. The first of the franchised shops, under the name Tide Dry Cleaners, was recently opened in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.
NAVY CONTRACT: Aecom Technology Corp. and Shaw Group Inc. said that their joint venture, Pacific Contingency Services LLC, was among six defense contractors awarded a large U.S. Navy contract. The contractors will compete for up to $900 million in project orders from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command-Pacific. The contract is similar to one that Aecom and Shaw’s Atlantic Contingency Constructors LLC joint venture has with the Navy to address its global construction needs. It has a one-year base period and four option years. The contractors will provide services in response to natural disasters, humanitarian efforts and military actions around the world. Aecom of Los Angeles is an engineering firm that provides technical and management support. Shaw Group is based in Baton Rouge, La.
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