Disney DEAL: Walt Disney Co. has agreed to buy Lucasfilm Ltd. for about $4.05 billion. The Burbank entertainment giant said that it will pay Lucasfilm founder and Co-Chairman George Lucas, who owns 100 percent of the San Francisco-based company known for the “Star Wars” movies, about half in cash and issue about 40 million Disney shares. The deal includes consumer products, animation and postproduction businesses such as Industrial Light & Magic. Lucas will remain affiliated with his studio as a creative consultant on new “Star Wars” films, such as the just announced seventh episode in the series, scheduled for release in 2015.
TAX HIKE: The Los Angeles City Council instructed city lawyers to draw up the language for four ballot measures that would raise property, real estate, parking and sales taxes. Council President Herb Wesson said that he expects only one of the measures will be placed on the March ballot and he supports a half-cent sales tax hike, which would generate an estimated $215 million to $220 million. That proposal would bring the city’s rate up to 9.25 percent, among the highest in the state.
PAY CHANGE: DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg renewed his contract with the Glendale animated film studio until 2017 but changed his compensation mix, ending a longtime practice of taking his pay in the company’s stock and options. Katzenberg, a company co-founder, now will collect a $2.5 million annual salary, whereas traditionally he had taken only a token $1. His annual equity incentive award is reduced to $4.5 million from $8 million, and he will be eligible for an annual cash incentive bonus of $4 million. Katzenberg, whose compensation last year totaled $3.9 million in restricted stock, was the only person on the Business Journal’s most recent annual executive compensation list not to take a base salary.
FIXED SPACE: Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has agreed to stay in its 1 million-square-foot headquarters building in Hawthorne through 2022 as long as the city reduces certain taxes. SpaceX, which recently completed a second successful mission to the International Space Station, has been wooed by other states, and the Hawthorne City Council unanimously approved the tax incentives to keep the company there. PayPal founder Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and moved the company to Hawthorne in 2008. SpaceX has about 2,000 employees and is in the process of hiring hundreds more.
PLANT PROBE: The California Public Utilities Commission has launched an investigation into the outage at the San Onofre nuclear plant. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric customers are paying more than $1.1 billion a year in estimated costs related to problems at the plant, which resulted from the replacement of steam generators. The probe will look at current and potential future costs to ratepayers from the repairs, as well as what might happen if one or both of the reactors never comes back on line.
LICENSE QUESTION: The California Department of Managed Health Care said it would review whether HealthCare Partners and its medical groups are in compliance with state law. The probe follows a recent patient lawsuit that alleges the Torrance company, which operates in three states and is considered the nation’s largest operator of medical groups, is managing patient care without the necessary license under the state’s Knox-Keene Act. The private company’s $4.42 billion cash-and-stock acquisition by DaVita Inc. of Denver is set to close by the end of this year.
SANDY SALE: Downtown L.A. fashion company American Apparel Inc. was among retailers offering a “Sandy Sale” for those caught in the path of the storm’s march through the East Coast. The clothing maker sent out an e-mail the night the storm hit offering a 20 percent discount for 36 hours to shoppers in nine states hardest hit by Sandy, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. “In case you’re bored during the storm,” the ad says, “just enter Sandysale at checkout.” The sale was condemned by people posting on Twitter, where many criticized the company for capitalizing on a storm that has wreaked havoc and killed at least 38 people in seven states.
AD CASE: A three-judge panel signaled it might strike down a deal that allowed about 100 digital billboards to go up in Hollywood, Venice and other neighborhoods, according to participants in the case. The 2nd District Court of Appeal informed attorneys that it was leaning toward instructing a Superior Court judge to cancel the permits for those existing digital signs, attorneys said. The signs were approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2006 as part of a settlement agreement and have drawn protests from neighborhood activists, who say the billboards create blight, and shine into yards and homes. Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, said the court’s position vindicated his stance.
EARNINGS: Herbalife Ltd. reported third quarter net income of nearly $118 million, 9 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 14 percent to $1 billion. … DineEquity Inc. reported third quarter net income of $58.7 million, 278 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 18 percent to $216 million. … HCP Inc. reported third quarter funds from operations of $290 million, up 12 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 8 percent to $475 million. … Kilroy Realty Corp. reported third quarter funds of $43.1 million, up 27 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 21 percent to $104 million. … Mercury General Corp. reported third quarter net income of $66.2 million, compared with a net loss of $3.8 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 19 percent to nearly $732 million. … IPC the Hospitalist Co. Inc. reported third quarter net income of $7.8 million, 21 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 12 percent to more than $127 million. … RealD Inc. reported a fiscal second quarter net loss of $4.2 million loss, compared with net income of $18.9 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 37 percent to $55 million.
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