BATTLE: Ray Irani, chairman and former chief executive of Occidental Petroleum Corp., is pushing to replace the oil company’s current CEO, Stephen Chazen, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing investors and people familiar with the company’s operations. However, several big investors who support Chazen have considered the possibility of trying to vote some directors, including Irani, off the board, the newspaper said.
DEEPER: The Port of Los Angeles has completed a channel deepening project to accommodate bigger ships. The Main, West Basin and East Basin channels are now 53 feet deep, about eight feet deeper than previously. The port is expecting increased competition from the Panama Canal when its widening project is finished in 2015, enabling shippers to send cargo directly from Asia to the East Coast.
CLOSED: Financially strapped Pacific Health Corp. suspended operations at its three community hospital facilities in Los Angeles County: Bellflower Medical Center and the L.A. and Hawthorne campuses of Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center. The closures come a week after the Tustin-based hospital operator was fined $7 million by the state after complaints that employees were not being paid properly.
SUPERGRAPHICS: Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has announced that Michael McNeilly’s Sky Tag Inc. has agreed to pay $1.2 million in civil penalties to settle a long-standing supergraphic billboard dispute with the city. Trutanich sued the L.A. company in 2011, alleging violations of numerous city building and safety codes, including creating and maintaining public nuisances and hazardous conditions in buildings.
BUYER: An affiliate of L.A’s Prana Studios has won a bankruptcy auction to buy Rhythm & Hues, the Oscar-winning El Segundo company behind the visual effects for “Life of Pi.” The $17.8 million deal with 34x118 Holdings, a wholly owned affiliate of Prana, includes a $1.2 million cash payment and assumption of loan obligations and contractual liabilities. Prana has offices in Los Angeles and Mumbai, India.
JOBS: Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate in February dipped to 10.3 percent and the county added 39,000 jobs, according to state figures. The rate has fallen considerably from 11.4 percent a year ago, but remains higher than the 9.6 percent February statewide average and well above the national 7.7 percent average. The biggest gain in jobs came in professional and business services, which added 25,300 jobs.
SHUTTERED: Walt Disney Co. is closing LucasArts, a San Francisco videogame unit of newly acquired Lucasfilm, to cut costs. Disney said it will focus on licensing “Star Wars” content rather than developing games internally. It now is looking for partners to complete games in development, including “Star Wars 1313.” Founded in 1982, LucasArts became an industry powerhouse in the 1990s but has shrunk significantly in recent years.
DEAL DONE: Dole Food Co. Inc. of Westlake Village has closed on the sale of two international businesses as part of a major company restructuring. The $1.7 billion cash deal gives Tokyo trading company Itochu Corp. the exclusive rights to the Dole trademark on packaged foods products worldwide, as well as certain fresh produce in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Dole is using part of the proceeds to pay off debt.
ACQUISITION: Billionaire Ron Burkle’s L.A. investment firm Yucaipa Cos. has acquired ownership stakes in two hospitality businesses. The Delano South Beach hotel and Las Vegas nightclub operator the Light Group were previously owned by struggling boutique hotel operator Morgans Hotel Group Co. of New York, which has been under pressure from shareholders to return to profitability after years of losses.
SETTLED: Avery Dennison Corp. has settled patent and antitrust litigation with 3M Co. The agreement enables the Pasadena labeling products company to continue selling its specialty reflective sheeting product, which increases the nighttime visibility of outdoor signs. 3M of St. Paul, Minn., had alleged that Avery Dennison’s OmniCube line infringed on its patents.
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