LIFTOFF: Boeing Co. and rocket firm Space Exploration Technologies Corp. have announced plans to build and launch four satellites for telecommunications firms in Mexico and Hong Kong. The companies’ joint satellite order, worth about $1 billion, will help preserve engineering jobs in the South Bay and will benefit many smaller aerospace suppliers facing less work due to pending budget cuts at the Pentagon and NASA. In El Segundo, Boeing will build four communication satellites in its complex near Los Angeles International Airport. Space Exploration, better known as SpaceX, makes its 18-story Falcon 9 rockets at a facility in Hawthorne. The rocket and satellites will be shipped to SpaceX’s facility in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for launch in late 2014 or early 2015, the companies said. The deals were made in a joint procurement by regional satellite operators Asia Broadcast Satellite of Hong Kong and Satélites Mexicanos of Mexico City.
APPAREL MONEY: A report that American Apparel could land an $80 million credit line sparked a rally in the company’s stock last week. A New York Post story stated that an offer from Crystal Financial, a Boston firm backed by billionaire George Soros’ hedge fund, would replace and extend a current $75 million revolving credit line from Bank of America that matures in July. The newspaper did not name its source for the information. Based in downtown Los Angeles, clothing manufacturer American Apparel warned investors last April that it might go bankrupt. Despite improving sales as the year progressed, the company reported a loss of $48 million or 56 cents per share for fiscal 2011.
LOWER INTEREST: International Lease Finance Corp. plans to sell $1.5 billion worth of notes to repay debt and purchase aircraft. The Century City airplane leasing operation, a subsidiary of insurance company American International Group Inc., said the notes will be sold in two tranches. The first $750 million offering will carry an interest rate of 4.88 percent and come due in 2015, and the second $750 million tranche will pay 5.88 percent and come due in 2019. ILFC plans to use the money to redeem notes that carry a higher interest rate and come due in 2015, with the remainder of the money for repayment of other debt and aircraft purchases. The company has a portfolio of more than 1,000 aircraft and commitments to buy 257 new planes.
TRAINING MONEY: The federal government has made $3.3 million in grants to local programs that will pay for job training for 1,000 workers, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other local officials announced last week. The Workforce Investment Act grants will go to job-training programs in eight sectors, including entertainment, construction, financial services, health care and green technology. The grants supplement existing city, state and federal money. “By partnering with local industries on work force training, we are preparing people for the high-growth, high-wage jobs of the future,” Villaraigosa said at a press conference at CBS Studios in the Fairfax district. CBS Studios is a partner in the entertainment careers training program, along with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Hollywood Cinema Production Resources, Live Nation, Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The goal of the entertainment careers training program is to place trainees into union jobs sponsored by Iatse and into entry-level employment positions.
PORT NUMBERS: Cargo traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach declined in February, and an early lunar new year is being blamed for the disappointing numbers. Overall cargo traffic fell 5.3 percent in Los Angeles and 15 percent in Long Beach compared with the same month last year, according to figures released by the ports. Factories in Asia typically shut down for a week to celebrate the lunar new year, resulting in a shipping lull. That slowdown took a bite out of February and March last year, but this year with the earlier holiday the postcelebration drop-off was confined to February. There was, however, some positive news in the figures. The Port of Los Angeles posted its 21st consecutive month of export growth, sending out 164,725 loaded shipping containers, up 9.5 percent from last year. In Long Beach, imports fell by 18 percent while exports shrunk by 1.6 percent. February marked seven months of shrinking exports at the port.
JOB DATA: Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate dipped to 11.8 percent in January from a revised 12 percent in December, according to state figures. But the county’s job machine went into reverse, shedding 85,000 jobs in January as 10 of the 11 local industry sectors showed declines in employment. January’s sharp drop in payroll jobs was partly due to an annual revision of the jobs data by state and federal government statisticians; that revision indicates that the county’s reported job gains in recent months – already meager – were overstated. Adjusting for seasonal factors, county firms shed about 16,000 jobs from their payrolls in January, according to figures from L.A. economic consulting firm Beacon Economics. The drop in the county’s unemployment rate was largely the result of fewer people entering the labor force. The 11.8 percent figure released by the state Employment Development Department was an improvement from a year ago, when the rate stood at 12.5 percent.
IGER MOVE: Shareholders of Walt Disney Co. have voted to make Chief Executive Robert Iger the company’s chairman as well. Burbank-based Disney said shareholders representing at least 73 percent of votes backed all 10 of the company’s board nominees at the annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo. The slate of nominees included Iger as chairman. Chairman John Pepper, a former chief executive at Procter & Gamble Co., is retiring. Disney said in a filing March 1 that its stock has at least doubled the performance of its peers since October 2005 when Iger became chief executive. His term as chairman will run until at least June 2016.
SOFTWARE DEAL: Cornerstone OnDemand Inc. has agreed to acquire a New Zealand firm that makes employee talent management software for the small-businesses market, in a deal valued at about $14 million. The Santa Monica human resources software company said buying Auckland-based Sonar Ltd. will combine two of the talent management industry’s most innovative providers and enable it to better penetrate the small-business market. Talent management software helps human resource managers with work force planning, compensation and benefits management, and other needs. Like Cornerstone, Sonar makes cloud-based software that customers access via the Internet by subscription. It will bring more than 375 clients to Cornerstone, which plans to pay $13 million in cash and $1 million in stock for the company. “Recent consolidation in the talent management space has disrupted the market and created many opportunities for Cornerstone,” said Chief Executive Adam Miller in a statement.
EARNINGS: Air Lease Corp. reported fourth quarter net income of $24.8 million compared with a net loss of $2.7 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose more than 200 percent to $115 million. … American Apparel Inc. reported a fourth quarter loss of $11.2 million compared with a loss of $19.3 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 10 percent to $158 million.
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