FOR SALE: Anschutz Co. of Denver is considering selling downtown L.A.-based sports and entertainment unit Anschutz Entertainment Group, with local holdings including L.A. Live and Staples Center, the Los Kings hockey team, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team and its AEG Live concert promotion business. The announcement adds to uncertainty about AEG’s plans to build a National Football League stadium and Los Angeles Convention Center annex. A new owner might seek to change agreements AEG has made with the city of Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he had known about the potential for sale but didn’t disclose it.
DEFENSE CUTS: Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. has announced plans to reduce its payroll by nearly 600 workers in the face of looming cuts in the Pentagon budget. Northrop, which moved its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, D.C., area last year, confirmed it has accepted buyouts from about 590 employees in its 21,000-person aerospace division, the majority of them based in Southern California. Northrop has facilities in Redondo Beach, El Segundo and Palmdale.
WORKERS’ COMP: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a major overhaul of California’s $17 billion workers’ compensation insurance program. The package would boost payments to permanently disabled victims of on-the-job accidents by about $740 million a year and hand employers a major break on premiums. Without the new law, businesses faced an average 18 percent increase in workers’ comp insurance premiums when they renewed their policies.
DOLE DEAL: Dole Food Co. Inc. has agreed to sell two units to Japanese trading conglomerate Itochu Corp for $1.7 billion in cash. The sale of the Westlake Village company’s worldwide packaged foods and Asia fresh produce businesses helps the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer pay down a heavy debt load. The two businesses account for about $2.5 billion in annual revenue.
POT SHOPS: A challenge to the recently approved city of L.A. ban on medical marijuana dispensaries has qualified for the ballot, potentially delaying the city’s latest attempt at a crackdown. The law prohibits the sale of cannabis but allows groups of three people or fewer to cultivate and share the drug. City Council options now include repeal of its ordinance, replacing it with a modified version or placing a competing measure on the March 5 ballot.
PARK RE-FI: Walt Disney Co. has said that it will provide the equivalent of $1.73 billion to restructure debt at the Disneyland Paris resort, but quashed rumors that it plans to buy out other partners in the European joint venture. The Burbank entertainment giant said that restructuring will enable the financially struggling Euro Disney SCA Group to benefit from lower interest rates and greater operational flexibility.
PORT TRAFFIC: Cargo traffic at the Port of Los Angeles dipped slightly in August but traffic was up at the neighboring Port of Long Beach. L.A. port terminals handled 706,669 cargo containers last month, down 2.3 percent from the previous August. Imports were down 4.1 percent and exports fell 10.1 percent, likely reflecting a cooling economy in China, port officials said. In Long Beach, terminals handled 543,445 containers, up a modest 1.4 percent from August 2011. Imports were up 2.9 percent and exports up 5.7 percent.
TAX HOLIDAY: In an effort to promote a more business-friendly image for Los Angeles, the City Council has extended a policy of exempting new businesses formed by 2015 from paying a gross receipts tax for their first three years of operation. The tax break, which costs the city an estimated $30 million annually in lost revenue, is set to expire in December.
NEW CASH: RGM Group of Venice has raised $21 million in a funding round with Riordan Lewis & Haden Equity Partners of Los Angeles. RGM operates a network of online publications. Also, the company’s RGM Alliance division places ads for premium and luxury brands. RGM Alliance reaches 350 publications, including 34 new sites this year. As part of the funding, the company has named Kurt Johnson chief executive, a former executive with FastClick and ValueClick Inc. RGM’s former chief executive, Kamran Razavi, has become chief strategy officer.
BUY OUT: Thomas Properties Group and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have announced that their new joint venture has bought out partners in eight office buildings in Austin, Texas, to gain full ownership of the properties. The L.A. real estate investment trust said that the joint venture, TPG/Calstrs Austin LLC, paid $859 million to Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. and another syndication partner for the office buildings and assumed five mortgage loans totaling $626 million. Thomas acquired the portfolio with Lehman in 2007.
ONLINE ADDITION: Saban Brands is acquiring Zui, a child-friendly Internet portal based in San Diego, for an undisclosed amount. The L.A. arm of billionaire Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group said that Zui complements Saban’s recent launch of MyVortexx.com, an entertainment site aimed at boys. MyVortexx supports the Saturday morning Vortexx programming block on the CW network. Zui’s flagship Zui.com site allows children access to a library of videos and online games.
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