MPG EXITS: Real estate firm MPG Office Trust plans to relinquish ownership of a downtown L.A. building because it couldn’t rework the debt financing. The building, a 54-story office tower, is Two California Plaza at 350 S. Grand Ave. in Bunker Hill. An MPG subsidiary that owns the building is in default for not paying its debt service, but the lender hasn’t foreclosed on the property. “We no longer believe we will be able to successfully modify the Two California Plaza mortgage loan and retain an ownership interest in the asset,” the company stated in its annual report, filed March 15. “We expect that Two California Plaza will be placed into receivership in the near term pursuant to a consensual agreement and we will focus on an orderly exit from the asset.”
ROCKETS AWAY: The parent corporation of Rocketdyne, a Canoga Park maker of rocket engines, plans to sell the company to help pay for an acquisition. United Technologies Inc. in Hartford, Conn., announced it will sell its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne unit to offset the cost of its $16.5 billion cash purchase of Charlotte, N.C., aerospace manufacturer Goodrich Corp. In addition to Rocketdyne, United Technologies will sell four other companies and it expects to obtain $3 billion from the divestitures. Rocketdyne was a major supplier to NASA and built the Saturn rockets for manned space missions in the 1960s. The company also built engines for Atlas and Delta rockets, the space shuttle main engines. Its solar power system is used on the space station.
AECOM CONTRACT: Aecom Technology Corp. has won an order from the U.S military worth $289 million over 34 months if all options are exercised. The engineering company, based in downtown Los Angeles, said the contract is for full-time maintenance services for aircraft at military locations in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. Aecom plans to hire more than 1,000 employees to provide the maintenance services. The new contract supplements an agreement already in place between Aecom and the U.S. Army Central Command. It is part of the Contract Field Teams program, which provides inspections, maintenance and repairs of aircraft and ground vehicles at government locations around the world, and will run until 2015. To date, Aecom has approximately $665 million in Contract Field Teams contracts.
JACOBS JOB: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. in Pasadena has signed a $50 million contract to design a sulfuric acid plant in British Columbia. The customer, Teck Metals Ltd., has two aging sulfuric acid plants at the site. By replacing them with the Jacobs-designed plant, Teck expects to improve operating reliability, reduce maintenance costs and improve environmental compliance. The plant is part of Teck’s zinc and lead smelting operation. In addition to designing the plant, Jacobs will supply its proprietary Chemetics brand equipment for acid processing. Most of the equipment will be fabricated at Jacobs’ facility in Pickering, Ontario.
OWN CUTS: Cable channel Oprah Winfrey Network announced a restructuring that will result in layoffs for one-fifth of its staff, or about 30 people in Los Angeles and New York. OWN’s studios are on Wilshire Boulevard on the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles. In a statement, Chief Executive Oprah Winfrey said it was a difficult decision, but the economics of a startup cable channel couldn’t support a cost structure with so many employees. “As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network,” Winfrey said. “To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.” The restructuring came just days after OWN shut down “The Rosie Show,” hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and taped in Chicago.
BLOCKING WAL-MART: Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes is proposing to block retail chains from moving into Chinatown, an apparent reaction to news that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is planning to open a grocery store in the neighborhood. A motion introduced by the councilman was scheduled to be heard by the City Council late last week. The motion calls for an interim ban on “formula retail” stores with standardized merchandise, décor and other features. Reyes, who represents the neighborhood, claims the motion wasn’t specifically aimed at Wal-Mart, but was instead prompted by a need to protect Chinatown’s “character and uniqueness,” as well as safety concerns from increased traffic.
SONY MOVES: Sony Corp. is tapping its Hollywood studio chief, Michael Lynton, as its top entertainment executive in the United States. The appointment is the latest development in a succession plan atop the Japanese electronics and media giant. Lynton will soon be named chief executive of Sony Corp. of America, a role that adds oversight of the company’s music sales and publishing businesses to his purview, according to knowledgeable sources. He will continue to run movie and TV studio Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, although Sony’s American unit is headquartered in New York. Lynton will become a top U.S. lieutenant to Kazuo Hirai, who is poised to succeed Howard Stringer as chief executive of Sony Corp. on April 1.
HUNGER STOCK: Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. rose to their highest levels ever in anticipation of the box-office results from “The Hunger Games” ahead of its March 23 opening. Shares closed at $15.68 on March 21, the highest price since the Santa Monica studio started trading publicly in November 1998. Website Boxoffice.com predicted $270 million in global ticket sales revenue for the opening weekend of “Hunger Games.” Lions Gate could release four “Hunger Games” movies and critics believe they could rival the popularity of the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” movies.
EARNINGS: Dole Food Co. reported earnings of $4 million, compared with a loss of $36 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue fell 1 percent to $1.54 billion.
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