Stories for February 2013

Thursday, February 28

Icahn Gains Two Seats on Herbalife’s Board

Herbalife Ltd. has agreed to increase its board by two seats, to 11 members, and will fill those positions with people chosen by activist investor Carl Icahn, whose investment company now controls more than 13 percent of the company.

Rentech Cuts Staff, R&D Operations

Alternative energy developer Rentech Inc. will dramatically scale back its research and development operations, closing a demonstration facility in Colorado and laying off staff.

L.A. Mayor’s ‘Jobs Czar’ to Resign

Matthew Karatz, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s deputy mayor for the Office of Economic and Business Policy, will resign his post on Friday.

Market Down at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 21 points to 14,054. The Nasdaq fell 2 points to 3,160. The S&P 500 fell 1 point to 1,515. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 146.

Buzzmedia Confirms Layoffs

The digital media company, which owns dozens of websites focused primarily on music and celebrity news, announced staff cuts of about 20 percent on Thursday as part of a restructuring.

Southland Aerospace Firms Brace for Defense Cuts

California is expected to take a $3.2-billion hit from cuts in federal defense spending if Congress can't reach a deal by Friday on the federal deficit, the Los Angeles Times reports. Southern California firms, particularly smaller contractors, stand to suffer the most.

Cities End Lawsuit over Nordstrom Move to Del Amo

Redondo Beach and Torrance have quietly reached an agreement to dismiss a lawsuit filed after Nordstrom announced it would move from the South Bay Galleria to Torrance's Del Amo Fashion Center, the Daily Breeze reports.

Economy Barely Expands in Fourth Quarter

The U.S. economy barely grew in the fourth quarter, although a slightly better performance in exports led the government to scratch an earlier estimate showing economic contraction, Reuters reports. The Wall Street Journal says the meager showing underscores how federal spending cuts, even before those threatened by the sequester that could be triggered tomorrow, are slowing the recovery's momentum.

Distressed Homes Still Drive Sales

The housing market appears to be surging ahead suddenly on all cylinders, but that does not mean it is free of the remnants of its recent downfall. CNBC reports that foreclosure-related sales made up 21 percent of all U.S. sales in 2012 and short sales, when the home is sold for less than the value of the mortgage, made up 22 percent.

L.A. Wants to Overturn Ruling on Homeless Belongings

Citing an immediate public health threat, the city of Los Angeles will ask the U.S. Supreme Court today to overturn a lower-court ruling preventing the random seizure and destruction of belongings that homeless people leave temporarily unattended on public sidewalks. The Los Angeles Times reports that the case could have broad implications for cities nationwide grappling with how to keep streets clean and safe while respecting the property rights of those who live there.

Gruel, Garcetti Unlikely Backers of Business Tax Cut

In the debate over who should be the next mayor of Los Angeles, who would you suppose argues for elimination of a business tax to kick-start economic growth? Not necessarily two of the liberal Democrats in the race: City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti. The Los Angeles Times reports that the duo's support puts them at odds with not only Democratic Party orthodoxy nationally, but also several figures viewed as leading watchdogs on municipal finance.

Work Starts on Redondo Beach Hotel

As Redondo Beach sets out to revitalize its waterfront and make it into a regional recreation attraction, work is set to begin on a new boutique hotel on the edge of King Harbor, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Ports Using USC Software to Beef Up Security

U.S. Coast Guard officials stationed at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are now using anti-terrorism software designed at USC to maximize security patrols at the nation's busiest seaports, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.

DreamWorks Costs Out of Control

From Shrek to Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation has crafted some of the most indelible characters in recent animation history. But a bruising earnings report and deep staff cuts have exposed flaws in the company's business model, reports.

Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades

U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

‘Smart Watches’ Gain Interest

In a corner of a world obsessed with the latest tech gadget, Eric Migicovsky is this week's hotshot as his Silicon Valley start-up company rolls out its new, high-tech Pebble smart watches, the Associated Press reports. The $150, postage stamp-sized computer on a band is tethered wirelessly to a wearer's Android or iPhone.

Market Gains Continue

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 12 points to 14,087. The Nasdaq rose 8 points to 3,170. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1,519.

Wednesday, February 27

Australian Designers Help Myspace Get Its 'Sexy Back'

A team of Josephmark designers has been working with Myspace out of the social network’s Beverly Hills office since September 2011. And now the firm plans to put down permanent roots in Los Angeles.

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Amgen Loses U.S. Supreme Court Case on Class Actions

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against Amgen Inc. in a case that could make it easier for shareholders to bring class-action lawsuits against companies in the future.

Markets Up at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 175 points, or 1 percent, to 14,075. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to 3,161. The S&P 500 rose 19 points to 1,516. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1.5 points at 146.

County Probes Compliance on Transferring LAX Traffic

The county Board of Supervisors is seeking to determine whether Los Angeles airport officials have complied with a 2006 court settlement requiring them to spread the growth in flights at busy Los Angeles International Airport to others in the region, the Los Angeles Times reports. Suspicions are that the efforts have been token at best.

Labor Pours Millions into L.A. Races

Freed of finance laws, unions are spending heavily in an attempt to strengthen their hand at the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nearly $4 million in independent expenditures has poured into city election campaigns in recent weeks, with more than three-fourths coming from groups tied to organized labor.

Cuts Tough for DreamWorks' Katzenberg

DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg told the Hollywood Reporter that the layoffs his company has been forced to make are hardest thing he's had to do since the studio was founded. Pink slips have already gone out, and 350 of the Glendale studio’s 2,200 employees will have been let go by year’s end.

J.P. Morgan Tightens Belt

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. on Tuesday stepped up the pace of cost cutting, announcing plans to eliminate 17,000 jobs by the end of next year and reduce expenses by at least $1 billion annually, the Wall Street Journal reports.

New Home Sales Up, Foreclosures Down in Southland

The latest S&P; Case Schiller Home Price index indicates that the Southland's housing market is heating up. Prices have popped to their highest level in six years, new home sales are increasing and foreclosure activity is on the wane, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Legal Battle Could Rattle TV Business

Cablevision Systems Corp. filed suit in federal court on Tuesday, accusing Viacom Inc., the parent of MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, of anti-competitive behavior, the Los Angeles Times reports. At issue is whether Viacom uses its leverage to force distributors to carry low-rated networks in return for access to its popular channels, a practice known in the industry as bundling.

Best Buy Eliminates 400 Corporate Jobs

Best Buy Co., the world’s biggest consumer-electronics retailer, cut 400 jobs at its headquarters as Chief Executive Hubert Joly works to reduce costs, Bloomberg News reports. In addition, company founder Richard Schulze's effort to take the Richfield, Minn. company private is in trouble after attempts to secure financing have faltered, sources tell CNBC.

Google Still Shut Out of Facebook's Ad Exchange

Facebook has opened the doors of its FBX ad exchange to AOL's ad network, even while one of ad land's biggest buyers of ad space is still waiting outside the velvet rope, reports.

Luxury Real Estate Market Redefines Extravagant

A Beverly Hills estate now is being offered for lease at $600,000 a month, dwarfing the $150,000 asked for summer months at Malibu’s finest properties or the $100,000 paid by singing legend Michael Jackson for his last residence in Holmby Hills. The Los Angeles Times reports that this may be the most expensive lease in the country and part of a growing trend.

Special-Effects Studios Seek to Survive

Visual effects companies struggle even as their work wins Oscars. One award-winning artist says the solution may be a new business model, Southern California Public Radio reports.

Biotech Drugs Still Won't Copy

Much anticipated knockoff versions of costly biotech medicines are facing delays and obstacles that could cost patients and health systems billions in missed savings, the Wall Street Journal reports. Several high-profile projects to create so-called biosimilar drugs have faltered in recent months.

Tech Trends You Need to Know Now

The tech-startup world is one of constant development and rapid innovation, and it's hard to keep up. highlights four emerging categories and the startups within each to keep your eye on.

Markets Continue Rally

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 73 points to 13,973. The Nasdaq rose 22 points to 3,152. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,505.

Tuesday, February 26

Smaller Quarterly Loss for Edison

Edison International reported a small fourth quarter loss as the Rosemead electrical utility decided to unload its struggling coal-fired power plant unit.

Variety to Halt Daily Print Publication

Struggling entertainment trade publication Variety is eliminating its daily print edition next month, dropping its paywall and overhauling its top editorial staff.

DreamWorks Moves to Loss

Glendale animation studio DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. swung to a fourth quarter loss due to large write-downs related to its latest release, “Rise of the Guardians.”

FDA Halts Pediatric Trials of Amgen Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has directed Amgen Inc. to stop pediatric studies of one of its drugs after 14-year-old patient died.

Tribune Hires Bankers to Shop L.A. Times

Los Angeles Times parent Tribune Co. has hired advisors at JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners to market its newspaper properties, according to a news report.

L.A. City Council Votes to Waive TV Pilot Filming Fees

In a bid to stem the outflow of television pilot production, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to waive all city fees for TV pilots and first-year series filmed in the city.

Markets Up at Close

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 116 points to 13,900. The Nasdaq rose 13 points to 3,130. The S&P 500 rose 9 points to 1,497. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 144.

Viddy Pink Slips One-Third of Staff

You could forgive Viddy if the Venice startup wished 2012 had never ended.

DataPop Launches Semantic Advertising Platform for Google

What if all the ads you read online were written by robots, with copy tailored specifically to your tastes?

What Southern California May Lose in Sequestration

The Southland and the rest of California are bracing for massive cuts in federal spending, with education and airport officials in particular worried, the Los Angeles Daily News and Los Angeles Times report.

Why Won't Yahoo Let Employees Work From Home?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Yahoo’s decision to ban work-from-home appears to highlight one tech company's apparent inability to keep tabs on its employees. The New York Times notes that the memo argues that face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture.

Macy's CEO Was Appalled by Martha Deal

In his company’s legal battle against Martha Stewart, Macy's Inc. Chief Executive Terry Lundgren testified that he was so appalled when Martha Stewart told him in 2011 that she made a deal with J.C. Penney that he hung up the phone and has not spoken to her since, Reuters and report.

Tesla Team Mulls Plan to Boost Image

Tesla Motors' top execs, including Chief Executive Elon Musk , this week are considering a strategy to recoup market value and boost demand after a critical review, Reuters reports.

Effects Workers Miffed After Oscar Speech Cut-off

Workers in California's beleaguered visual effects industry were left fuming after the acceptance speech by Oscar-winning supervisor Bill Westenhofer was cut short, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Music Industry’s First Revenue Increase Since 1999

The music industry, the first media business to be consumed by the digital revolution, announced that global sales had risen last year for the first year in more than a decade, the New York Times reports.

Huy Fong's Sriracha Catches Fire

Huy Fong’s signature Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce has earned a passionate following that’s helped make it an icon -- and one of the fastest-growing food companies in America, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports.

NBC's Thursday Lineup Goes from 'Must See' to 'Must Flee'

NBC’s Thursday prime-time ratings have eroded dramatically in recent years, forcing network executives to rethink their strategy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Low Pay at Weight Watchers Stirs Protest

Hundreds of the leading weight-loss company’s workers are waging an open rebellion that has management scrambling to improve working conditions the New York Times reports.

Markets Open Mixed

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 63 points to 13,847. The Nasdaq was down less than 1 point to 3,115. The S&P 500 was up less than 1 point to 1,488.

Monday, February 25

Boingo Stock Slides on Outlook Concerns

As Boingo Wireless Inc.’s stock continues to slide, there’s a growing concern whether the Wi-Fi provider can overcome an obstacle that’s always loomed for the company: free public Internet.

MeUndies Expands Online Underwear Offerings

MeUndies is hoping that its underwear customers are also the kind who’d buy T-shirts and socks.

Murdock Becomes Dole CEO Again

David Murdock has taken back the chief executive’s job at Dole Food Co. Inc., as the fruit-and-vegetable producer prepares to complete the sale of its packaged foods and Asian fruit operation to a Japanese conglomerate.

Monday Markets Slide

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 216 points, or 1.5 percent, to 13,784. The Nasdaq fell 46 points to 3,116. The S&P 500 fell 28 points to 1,488. The LABJ Stock Index fell more 1 point to 144.

Edison Told to Detail San Onofre Costs

An administrative judge with the California Public Utilities Commission has given Southern California Edison until March 15 to file an accounting of its costs to replace steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear plant, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Barnes & Noble Chairman to Bid for Retail Business

The chairman of Barnes & Noble plans to bid for the retail business of the bookstore chain he started 40 years ago, as the company struggles with a changing competitive landscape, the New York Times and CNN report. The proposal would not include the e-book division, Nook Media.

Digital Billboard Company Issues Threat Against L.A.

Clear Channel Outdoor, which is fighting to preserve dozens of digital billboards across Los Angeles warned last week that it would seek "substantially" more than $100 million from City Hall if it is ordered to remove any electronic signs targeted in a recent court ruling, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Palmer Planning Two Huge Broadway Buildings

Developer Geoff Palmer has built more Central City apartments than anyone else, but the man behind the Tuscan villa-inspired complexes such as the Medici and Orsini has stayed on the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles. But G.H. Palmer Associates has now partnered with parking lot giant L&R; Group to develop a massive, two-building complex right in downtown that would straddle Olympic Boulevard at Broadway, the Los Angeles Downtown News reports.

Oscar Broadcast Up From Last Year in Early Ratings

With host Seth MacFarlane, a Best Picture win for Argo and a lot of music, last night’s Oscars were up from the 2012 show, reports.

How Marketers Used TV's Second-Most-Expensive Ad Vehicle

Ad Age looks at how marketers, from Diet Coke to J.C. Penney to Hyundai, took advantage of last night’s Oscars broadcast, TV’s second-most expensive advertising opportunity.

Anemia Drug Recalled After Allergic Reactions

The suppliers of a new drug to treat anemia in patients undergoing kidney dialysis have recalled the product after reports that it had caused severe allergic reactions, including some that were fatal, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times report. Affymax and Takeda Pharmaceutical's Omontys competes with Amgen Inc.'s Epogen-Aranesp franchise.

Nielsen Tackles Web Viewing

Nielsen last week took a symbolic step toward helping the networks monetize TV viewing done via the Internet. But, as Variety reports, reaction to the ratings service's decision to add Internet-connected TV sets to its formal definition of a "TV household" was muted among execs because it addresses only part of the vexing measurement challenge.

'Coupon Indicator' Points to a Stressed Consumer

Consumers are clipping coupons at a rate not seen since before the 2007 recession, and that's a troubling sign, according to Chief Executive Steven Boal, CNBC reports.

California Delegation Split on Temporary Worker Visas

One of the nation’s largest labor unions, the AFL-CIO, found agreement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on one area of immigration reform: guest workers. But the California delegation in Congress has opinions of its own on the topic of foreign workers, Southern California Public Radio reports.

Twitter Hackings Put Focus on Brand Security

While Twitter and many other social media platforms began as a way for ordinary users to share vacation photos and status updates, they've evolved into major advertising vehicles for consumer brands. The danger of those accounts being hacked – as happened to Burger King and Jeep recently – is a potentially huge liability, the New York Times reports.

Markets Mixed This Morning

In Monday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 6 points to 13,994. The Nasdaq was up 6 points to 3,168. The S&P 500 rose less than 1 point to 1,516.

Environmental Attorneys Change Surroundings

EMPLOYMENT: Pair from Bingham open Edgcomb outpost in Burbank.

Nancy Wilms and Tiffany Hedgpeth both spent at least 15 years in the downtown L.A. office of Boston’s Bingham McCutchen LLP, representing major clients such as Chevron Corp. and pharmaceutical giant McKesson Corp. as partners in the firm’s environmental litigation group.

FDA’s OK for Vision Device a Sight for Sore Eyes

HEALTH CARE & BIOTECH: Sylmar firm’s Argus II system generates images for blind people.

While the approval process for his insulin inhaler drags on, Alfred Mann this month received a welcome victory on another of his medical devices.

Patched In

YouTube among tech giants moving into Silicon Beach

Microsoft’s content production studio is the latest big tech venture looking to plug into L.A.’s entertainment sector.

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New Environment

development: Organized labor’s recent opposition could hurt business groups’ efforts to reform CEQA.

Labor unions’ opposition could trip up building momentum to reform the California Environmental Quality Act.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Lawyer in Luxury Driver’s Seat

Tim Lappen is living the car lover’s dream.

Taking Lead Role In Investing

Teen actress looks to help others stock up on trading know-how.

Teen TV actress Rachel Fox wants to channel her fame into support for stock trading.

Car Museum In High Gear

Petersen to celebrate Corvette’s 60th year with month of events.

Petersen Automotive Museum hopes to rev up the Corvette’s 60th anniversary with a month of events.

Married To Gay Weddings

Honeymoon website hopes to ride rise in same-sex nuptials. aims to remove obstacles to same-sex spouses’ romantic getaways.

Developer Rolls Dice on Casino

REAL ESTATE: Meruelo bets on Trump Plaza revival.

Meruelo Group rolls dice on purchasing and reviving Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

Pot Shop Deals Up in Smoke?

BANKING: Wary lenders look to cut ties to properties.

Lenders look to nip deals involving pot shops in the bud before the properties are seized by law enforcement.

Burger Chain Hopes for Fuller Plate

DINING: Umami looks to feed growth with equity investment.

Umami will tap a recent $20 million equity investment to feed the burger chain’s expansion plan.

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Jim Updike

Once a Customer, Now CEO

Jim Updike’s rise through the credit union industry started at the very bottom with a small loan to buy a TV set in 1969.

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Terry O’Steen

More Like Banking of The Past

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Mark Herter


How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: G. Michael Padgett

CPA Role Led to New Career Path

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Nader Moghaddam

Credit Union Career by ‘Complete Accident’

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Teresa Freeborn

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Michael Mastro

Credit Union as ‘Fertile Ground’

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Charles Bruen

The Good Is Technology, the Bad Is Regulation

How did you get into the credit union field?

Who's Who In Banking & Finance: Keith Sultemeier

Looking to Offer Services Beyond Mortgages

Keith Sultemeier is an outlier.

Special Report Who’s Who In Banking & Finance

Business Journal offers a members-only look at nine local credit union chief executives.

L.A. Has Work to Do on Literacy

Mari Riddle spells out how raising literacy rates will lift the economy of Los Angeles.

Putting Out Welcome Mat

Smaller niche banks help fill gap for loan-seeking homebuyers who don’t fit large lenders’ restricted criteria.

Mark Cohen sees big banks losing business to smaller rivals with more flexible loan standards.

A Way Out for California?

Charles Crumply digs the prospects the Monterey Shale oil formation could hold for California.

Online Ad Firm Clicks With Playa Vista Space

LEASE: Rubicon Project leaves West L.A. office in search of lower rent.

Rubicon Project is moving to Playa Vista from its West L.A. digs, the latest tech firm to head south to escape rising rents and limited space options.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from and other sources

New CEO Clicks Off Purchases, Boots Up Earnings

INTERNET: ValueClick’s plan to boost productivity appears to gain traction.

Wall Street likes what it’s hearing from online marketing firm ValueClick.

Broadcasters Signal Increased Interest in Internet

TV: AMC, CW to expand digital content; Fox invests in YouTube channel.

At the top of many concerns for broadcasters is the idea that young viewers aren’t even watching TV during prime time anymore, preferring to go online and watch videos on YouTube.

Buyer Struggles to Tune Up Car Parts Acquisition

AUTOMOTIVE: Investor presses MPA to improve earnings of 2011 pickup.

Hedge fund investor talks of steering Motorcar Parts of America away from a struggling division.

Homebuilders Share Pain From Housing Report

CONSTRUCTION: Ryland and KB stocks fall after poor January numbers.

Investors move out of homebuilder stocks after poor January housing report.

Friday, February 22

Boingo Stock Falls After Disappointing Earnings

Shares of Boingo Wireless Inc. took a dive Friday following the company’s disappointing earnings.

L.A. Tech Kick It at New Clubhouse

The L.A. tech community has embraced the new members-only club, which had its grand opening on Jan. 25.

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AEG Evaluating Second Round of Bids

Entertainment giant AEG is considering the second round of bids for its properties that include the Staples Center and Los Angeles Kings.

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies closed down slightly for the week as the broader markets fell due to concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may scale back its bond-buying program.

Markets End Day Up

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 120 points, or 1 percent, to 14,001. The Nasdaq gained 30 points, or 1 percent, to 3,162. The S&P 500 was up 13 points, or 1 percent, to 1,516. The LABJ Stock Index closed up 1 point to 145.

EA Cuts L.A. Staff

Electronic Arts Inc. announced late Thursday that it has laid off some of its employees in Los Angeles.

Payroll Tax Whacks Spending

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday joined a parade of retailers, restaurants and consumer-goods companies worried about the economic impact of the recently restored federal payroll tax that has left Americans with less money to spend. The expiration of the payroll tax cuts that knocked 2 percent off consumers' take-home pay is having an impact, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Drivers Feel Pinch at Pump

American consumers, already struggling to adjust to higher taxes, now face another challenge: gasoline prices that have risen nearly 50 cents a gallon in the past month alone, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NBC to Finish 5th in Sweeps, Falls Behind Univision

An already bad month is getting worse for NBC. For the first time in sweeps history, the network is projected to finish fifth in the key adults 18-49 demographic, Deadline reports.

Judge Who Struck Down Gay Marriage Ban Speaks Out

Retired Judge Vaughn Walker is matter-of-fact about the fallout from declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. As he told the Commonwealth Club recently, he believes same-sex marriage is "an idea whose time has come," and he sticks by that belief, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Eric Garcetti's Role in L.A. Budget Fixes is in Dispute

Pressed in the race for mayor of Los Angeles to say how he would fix a persistent budget gap that has led to the gutting of many city services, Eric Garcetti urges voters to look at what he has done in the past. But the truth is in dispute, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Nielsen Changing How it Measures TV Consumption

Responding to pressure from the television industry, the ratings company Nielsen is making a bigger push to measure viewing in a way that reflects the different means by which television content is distributed and consumed in the digital age, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Tuberculosis Outbreak: 4,650 at Risk in L.A.

Health workers have identified about 4,650 people who were probably exposed to a persistent outbreak of tuberculosis on downtown Los Angeles' skid row and are trying to track them down for testing and treatment, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Harbor Commission Votes for Waterfront Plan

The Los Angeles harbor commission voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with a project to revitalize the San Pedro waterfront, despite objections from several developers not selected to move to the next round, the Daily Breeze reports.

Port Clerical Workers Ratify Contract After All

After initially rejecting the tentative agreements that ended an eight-day strike that shut down much of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, clerical workers have voted to ratify the contracts, the Daily Breeze reports.

A Memorial Service Perfectly Suited to Jerry Buss

As memorials go, this was pure Showtime, an entertaining reflection of Buss' 80 years in all their integrity, generosity, competitiveness and craziness, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Markets Rally in Early Trading

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 55 points to 13,936. The Nasdaq was up 13 points to 3,144. The S&P 500 gained 5 points to 1,508.

Thursday, February 21

Clerks Ratify L.A. Port Contract

The small clerical worker union that last year shut down L.A. port terminals for eight days has ratified a contract agreement with employers at the port, quelling worries about the possibility of another strike.

Reliance Reports Lower Sales, Higher Profit

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said that its fourth quarter net income rose 18 percent as lower costs helped offset a decline in sales for the global metals processing company.

Jakks Reports Disappointing Quarter

Jakks Pacific Inc. reported a larger net loss for the key holiday-season fourth quarter, as sales fell and the Malibu toymaker took more than $92 million in charges.

Markets Down at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 47 points to 13,881. The Nasdaq fell 33 points to 3,131. The S&P 500 fell 9.5 points to 1,502. The LABJ Stock Index fell nearly 1 point to 144.

Boingo Reports Revenue Gains

Boingo Wireless Inc. on Thursday reported a slight boost in revenue for the fourth quarter and full-year as it begins to focus more heavily on its wireless network for mobile data.

Spark Networks Finds Match on Westside

The company, which operates a network of online dating sites, will relocate to a 16,000-square-foot office in West L.A. this spring.

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Negative Outlook Among Consumers as Fuel Climbs

Americans remain pessimistic about the economic outlook in February as rising gasoline prices compound the damage done by a higher payroll tax, Bloomberg News reports.

'Amazon Tax' Starts to Arrive

Sales tax from Internet commerce, a prize pursued for years by state governments, is starting to arrive in California and a few other states, providing millions of dollars in new revenue – though not as much as a benchmark study once forecast, Reuters reports.

California Home Owners Receiving Mortgage Settlement

Nearly 72,000 Californians have had their mortgages reduced or forgiven under terms of a multi-state mortgage settlement with six major banks, according to a report Thursday from the state appointee monitoring the banks' compliance, the San Jose Mercury News and Wall Street Journal report.

Award to Countrywide Whistle-Blower Overturned

An appeals court has overturned a $3.8-million jury award to a former Countrywide Financial Corp. human resources executive who contends he was fired because he refused to lie for the giant home lender and exposed unsafe working conditions, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Nielsen Agrees to Expand Definition of TV Viewing

Nielsen Co. is expanding its definition of television and will introduce a comprehensive plan by the ratings company to capture all video viewing including broadband and Xbox and iPads, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter.

Rapino Buys in Brentwood

Michael Rapino, chief executive of concert-industry giant Live Nation, has paid nearly $15 million for two adjacent properties in Brentwood, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

Jack Warner Building in Beverly Hills Sold

An 85-year-old Beverly Hills building erected in the Golden Age of Hollywood by movie mogul Jack Warner has been sold for nearly $12 million to a local investor, the Los Angeles Times reports. Warner built the 11,000-square-foot building in 1928 to house the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Universal to Drop Health Care for Part-time Workers

Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government's health-care overhaul, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Google's Anti-Piracy Efforts Faulted

A Recording Industry Association of America study contends that search engine giant Google hasn't done enough to demote sites known for piracy, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Comcast Restricts Gun Ads

Comcast Corp. said its cable systems will stop accepting ads for guns or from retail outlets promoting gun sales as part of a new policy. The Los Angeles Times reports that the approach is similar to one its NBCUniversal unit has for its broadcast TV stations.

Oscar Broadcast Rivals Super Bowl as Showcase for Ads

This year, Madison Avenue seems to be anticipating the Oscars as much as Hollywood, the New York Times reports. Advertisers are paying ABC the highest prices since 2008 for commercials during the network’s coverage of the Academy Awards.

Monterey Shale: The Next Oil Boom?

The federal government believes the Monterey Shale, which lies under more than 1,750 square miles of central and southern California, has far more shale oil than anywhere else in the lower 48 states — nearly four times the amount of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. But, as CNBC reports, this is California. Extracting all that energy won't be easy.

Lack of Immigration Reform Threatens Farmers

Except for illegal immigrants, no group has more at stake in the national fight over immigration reform than California farmers, the Los Angeles Times reports. As security has tightened along the California-Mexican border, the flow of illegal immigrant labor into the nation's most productive agriculture state has slowed significantly, farm interests say.

Russia's $50 Billion Olympic Gamble

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be the most expensive ever staged. While Vladimir Putin has not flinched at the eye-popping expense, some wealthy oligarchs are chafing at how much they are expected to do, Reuters reports.

Markets Continue Slide

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 62 points to 13,865. The Nasdaq fell 25 points to 3,139. The S&P 500 fell 9 points to 1,503.

Wednesday, February 20

Herbalife to Clarify Business Practices

Herbalife Ltd. said that it will clarify its business practices, responding to criticism from billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman.

Cheesecake Sales Fall Due to Sandy

Shares for Cheesecake Factory Inc. closed down 1 percent Wednesday after the casual dining chain reported that sales fell in the fourth quarter due to superstorm Sandy.

Markets Down at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 108 points, or nearly 1 percent, to 13,928. The Nasdaq dropped 49 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,164. The S&P 500 fell 19 points, or more than 1 percent to 1,512. The LABJ Stock Index fell 2 points, or 1 percent to 145.

ParkMe Signs Up More Parking Garages

The company announced Wednesday that it has partnered with ABM Parking Services to provide real-time data about parking availability and rates in ABM-operated garages around the country.

Office Depot to Buy OfficeMax

Office Depot agreed to buy OfficeMax in an all-stock deal that values the rival office-supplies retailer at roughly $1.19 billion, the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press report.

L.A. Economy Seen Improving Through Next Year

The Los Angeles economy is expected to continue its steady improvement through 2014 barring unforeseen drags on the national economy, according to a forecast to be released today, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

Millennium Hollywood Clears a Hurdle

A proposal for two skyscrapers in a $664-million mixed-use development flanking the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood gained the approval of the city's planning department Tuesday despite push-back from dozens of disgruntled residents, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Rebuilding Playboy

Publishing is now a sideline for Hugh Hefner's racy brainchild, the Wall Street Journal reports. Playboy Enterprises Inc.'s first chief executive outside the Hefner family has been radically reshaping the company, shrinking its staff by 75 percent, moving its headquarters from Chicago to Los Angeles, outsourcing much of its business, and ushering in what many current and former employees describe as a harsher company culture.

CalPERS to Sell Holdings in Two Gun Manufacturers

The nation's biggest public pension fund is to sell all its investments in two firearms manufacturers: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co., the Los Angeles Times reports.

Report: Boeing Close to Fixing Dreamliner Battery

Boeing Co. has found a way to fix battery problems with its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets which involves increasing the space between cells, sources tell Reuters. The 50 Dreamliners in commercial service were grounded worldwide last month after a series of battery-related incidents including a fire on board a parked plane in the United States.

CBS, Reliance Plan Joint Channel in India

India's Reliance Broadcast Network and CBS Studios International have launched a Hindi feed of their joint venture English-language entertainment channel Big CBS Prime in the fast-growing Asian media market, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Tougher Penalties for Cybertheft Planned

Evidence of an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government is prompting the Obama administration to develop more aggressive responses to the theft of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, the Associated Press reports.

Cramer: This Is a 'Great Gatsby' Market

With the high-end retailers reporting positive earnings and stock prices for those in the middle market flagging, CNBC's Jim Cramer thinks this divergence is creating two unrelated groups of consumers.

Markets Retreat This Morning

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 16 points to 14,020. The Nasdaq fell 12 points to 3,202. The S&P 500 fell 5 points to 1,525.

Local Economy Seen Improving Through 2014

The Los Angeles economy is expected to continue its steady improvement through 2014 barring sudden impacts of budget cuts or other unforeseen drags on the national economy, according to a forecast to be released today.

Tuesday, February 19

Demand Considers Company Split

Demand Media announced Tuesday that it is considering splitting into two publicly traded companies.

Cooley Adds Two Partners in Santa Monica

Cooley has hired two new partners to expand its practice to better serve later-stage companies.

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Herbalife’s Quarter Beats Expectations

Herbalife Ltd late Tuesday reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter, boosted by stronger sales in Asia Pacific and other younger markets for its weight-loss and nutritional supplement products.

Shamrock Invests in Wireless Infrastructure Firm

Shamrock Capital Advisors has invested $100 million in Newport Beach wireless infrastructure firm Mobilitie, the companies announced Tuesday.

Retail Floor of Downtown's Market Lofts Is Sold

CIM Group Inc. has sold the nearly 60,000-square-foot downtown retail property that houses Ralphs Fresh Fare market to MDC Realty Advisors USA Inc. for nearly $19 million.

Markets Up at Close

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 54 points to 14,036. The Nasdaq rose 22 points to 3,214. The S&P 500 rose 11 points to 1,531. The LABJ Stock Index rose nearly 1 point to 147.

Obama Campaign Veterans Move into PR

Among the political operatives who worked for President Obama’s re-election campaign and have started their own companies are Katie Ingebretson and Karine Jean-Pierre, who opened a communications and government relations firm in Los Angeles last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

OfficeMax, Office Depot in Talks to Merge

OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc. are in talks to merge in an all-stock deal, as the retailers of pens, paper and desks try to fight competition from rivals such as Staples Inc. and Inc., sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Home Builder Confidence Falls

Home builder sentiment took a step backward in February, CNBC reports. It’s the first decline in 11 months, with the National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index now four points shy of the positive line.

Buss Leaves Legacy in Sports and Business

Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner who died Monday, left a legacy beyond sports, Southern California Public Radio and the Hollywood Reporter say. Buss started his empire with a $1,000 investment in a small Los Angeles apartment building. That grew into a successful real estate investment firm and into enough money for Buss to buy the Lakers, which he owned for three decades, turning Hollywood's spotlights on a franchise worth at least $1 billion today.

Gas Prices Spike

Gasoline prices are continuing to rise throughout Southern California. The region has blown past the $4 mark and pump prices are still ramping up, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Drug Makers Join Fight Against Doping

Amgen Inc.’s blood-enhancing drug EPO has helped millions of anemia patients, but Lance Armstrong and other top cyclists have turned the medicine into a byword for doping. Now a growing number of pharmaceutical companies are trying to prevent their drugs from the same fate, the New York Times reports.

Theaters Raising Revenue by Charging to Show Trailers

Movie studio executives are grumbling about the growing practice in which they have to pay to run coming attractions before feature films, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Sony Eyes Asset Sales to Focus on Hardware

Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai has staunchly denied that Sony Pictures is for sale. But after a decade of weak results in its core consumer electronics businesses, Hirai may eventually face pressure to channel all energies into fixing the problems on the hardware side, Variety reports.

Disney Cancels SoCal Ticket Deals

Southern California residents won't get deep discounts on Disneyland and Disney California Adventure tickets this spring as they have for the past decade, the Orange County Register reports. Higher attendance, bolstered by last year's Cars Land improvements, prompted the parks to cancel 2-for-1 tickets and similar promotions to local residents during the parks' slow season.

Branson Leads Billionaires Joining Buffett’s Pledge

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is among a dozen European and Asian business leaders who have joined Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in their vow to give half their money to charity, the Financial Times reports.

Markets Start Day Up

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 50 points to 14,031. The Nasdaq was up 10 points to 3,202. The S&P 500 was up 7 points to 1,526.

Monday, February 18

Coelho, Packard Partners in New PR/Lobbying Firm

A public relations and lobbying firm opens this week in Century City with two former California congressmen as founding partners.

Streamys Make a Play for the Mainstream

It was the third annual show for the Streamy’s, which hands out awards to the creators of online original content.

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Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Dies

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who presided over a team that won 10 NBA titles and showcased some of the biggest names in professional basketball, died Monday. He was 80. ESPN and the Los Angeles Times report that Buss has been hospitalized for cancer, but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure.

Reader's Digest Files for Second Bankruptcy

Reader's Digest Association and six affiliates filed for Chapter 11 protection late Sunday, the publisher's second bankruptcy filing in 3 1/2 years. It’s another example of the pressures on media companies still relying on their print publications, the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press report.

Loeb Sells Part of Position in Herbalife

Third Point manager Daniel Loeb has sold part of his long position in the nutrition company Herbalife, sources tell CNBC. The hedge fund started selling a few weeks ago and has continued to trade around the position, including this past Friday when shares surged.

Modest U.S. Consumer Spending Seen

Consumer spending could remain modest as the economy recovers from the recession, even with steady improvement in the housing market, top White House economist Alan Kruegersaid told the Wall Street Journal.

Judge Approves Interim Loan for Rhythm & Hues

A federal judge has approved a $17 million loan from two movie studios to keep the lights on at troubled Rhythm & Hues, the award-winning visual effects company that worked on the Oscar-nominated “Life of Pi.” The El Segundo company last week filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after laying off 250 employees, the Los Angeles Times reports.

An Ambitious Vision for Clifton's

Real estate developer and moviemaker Andrew Meieran is staking his reputation and millions of dollars on an attempt to revive one of the most beloved restaurants in L.A. history — Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hard Fall from a Lofty Perch for Money Manager

Peter Eichler Jr. made a fortune that funded a highflying lifestyle by running Aletheia Research & Management Inc., one of the Southland's largest money management firms. Eichler's Santa Monica investment firm is now shutting down after a wave of client defections and two investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hong Kong Disney Turns First Profit

Officials at Hong King Disneyland on Monday said that the theme park in the southern Chinese city has turned a profit for the first time since it opened in 2005, as new attractions helped push visitor numbers to a record, the Associated Press reports.

Why Over 8 Percent Unemployment Could Lie Ahead

Severe fiscal tightening in the United States will lead to no growth or a contraction in the first two quarters of 2013 and will push unemployment over the 8 percent level, according to Lombard Street Research, CNBC reports.

Rate Shock Concerns During Shift to New Health Law

Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama's health care law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Report: Google to Open Retail Stores

Google, which currently operates its Chrome Stores in hundreds of Best Buys, hopes to open retail stores in time for the holiday shopping season, sources have told industry blog 9to5Google. The search giant leaders have decided retail stores are necessary for the eventual launch of Google Glass – eyeglasses with capabilities similar to that of smartphone.

Film Franchise Stresses Social Side of Fandom

Universal’s “Fast & Furious” series is a second-class citizen in Hollywood, but not online, where it has more Facebook “likes” than any active film series except “Avatar,” the New York Times reports.

Airline Merger to Alter Business Travel

In the wake of the deal to merge American Airlines and US Airways, many business travelers are asking themselves the same question: What does this mean for me? Change is the only certain answer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Markets Closed Today

U.S. stock markets are closed Monday for the President's Day federal holiday.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

Marina del Rey Harbors Growth Plan

Real Estate: Developers look to plug into Silicon Beach scene.

Marina del Rey developers look to ride the Silicon Beach-fueled wave of interest in the Westside.

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Ad Pioneer Sees Online Opening

Internet: Rubicon fights larger rivals to stake out turf.

Rubicon Project refuses to think small as it looks to find room in an ad field dominated by giant rivals.

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High-Rise Owner Finds Portfolio Deal Tall Order

REAL ESTATE: Shares fall after MPG reportedly ends search for buyer.

MPG stock falters as property owner comes up short in deal for high-rise portfolio.

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Farther, Wider

FOOD: Nutrition bar firm ThinkThin adds outlets while mulling new items.

Nutrition bar maker ThinkThin looks to expand by adding retail distributors and branching into new sectors.

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Punishing a Principled Stand

Charles Crumpley sees the LAX chamber headed in the right direction on moving the airport’s runway.

Golden Triangle Rounds Up Another Pricey Deal

SALE: Restaurant-retail property in Beverly Hills sells for $11.8 million.

An 11,000-square-foot commercial property on Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle has been sold for nearly $11.8 million, one of the highest per-square-foot prices in the city in the past year.

Texas-Size Problem

Ease of filing nuisance lawsuits in California could spur businesses to head for Lone Star State.

Maryann Marino warns that California courts disaster by encouraging nuisance lawsuits against businesses.

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from and other sources

Warner Bros. Rushes Tech Accelerator Into L.A.

ENTERTAINMENT: Studio hopes program will draw new-media startups.

Warner Bros. is bringing another tech accelerator into Los Angeles – this one with a specific focus on new-media companies.

Beverly Hills Hotel Checks In With Touch of India

HOSPITALITY: Co-owners reposition boutique Sirtaj with kitchen and bar.

A small Beverly Hills hotel, once a 1920s boardinghouse, reopened last week with a new name and image after three years of renovations.

Business Groups Favor Court Discrimination Ruling

LEGAL: Employers hope for decrease in damage claims by workers.

Business groups hope a state court discrimination ruling will work to curb employee lawsuits.

Attorney Shares Take on Incorporation Giveaway

LAW: Jeff Unger discovers many startups don’t need formal legal status.

Jeff Unger’s free incorporation promotion has helped the attorney make the case that incorporation isn’t for everyone.

Investors Take Microturbine Maker’s Stock for Spin

ENERGY: Oil and shale gas customers help fuel strong quarter for Capstone.

Business with oil and shale gas companies helps power up shares of microturbine maker Capstone.

Regional Reports

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Making Play for Barbie’s Malibu Dream House

Josh Altman, a 33-year-old real estate broker to the stars and cast member of the Bravo reality TV series “Million Dollar Listing,” recently landed the ultimate celebrity client: Barbie.

Positive Road Conditions

Regus Group says traffic drives interest in its flex office space.

Traffic might be creating in-roads for flexible office space in Los Angeles.

Warm Beer Generates Little Heat

Soda vendor hopes colder microbrews prove hotter sellers.

Warm beer’s frosty reception spurs Galco’s Soda Pop Stop to feature cooler microbrews.

Hogwarts Heads for High Seas

Harry Potter fan shop looks to make waves with wizard cruise.

Shop for Harry Potter fans looks to buoy business with wizard-themed ocean cruise.

Port Firms Get Sinking Feeling

SHIPPING: Spurned labor deal may send cargo packing.

Clerical workers’ torpedoed labor contract could soak import and export companies at ports.

Under Pressure

Food company has fresh take on lengthening shelf life

CedarLane seeks to squeeze more shelf life out of its nonfrozen fare with pressurizing process.

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L.A. Must Make Mark in Impact Investing

Darya Allen-Attar and Laura Ferretti weigh in on the value of impact investing.

Friday, February 15

YouTube Networks Partner With Universal Music

Two of YouTube’s biggest networks – Maker Studios in Marina del Rey and Fullscreen in Culver City – have formed partnerships with Universal Music Publishing Group to bring some legitimacy to cover videos.

Occidental Launches CEO Search

Occidental Petroleum Corp. announced Friday that it has begun its search for a successor to Chief Executive Stephen Chazen.

DreamWorks to Develop Russian Theme Parks

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. announced Friday it has entered a partnership to develop three theme parks in Russia and plans for one of them to be the largest indoor theme park in Europe.

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies closed up slightly for the week as the broader markets were flat.

Markets Mixed at Close

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 8 points to 13,982. The Nasdaq was down 7 points to 3,192 The S&P 500 was down 2 points to 1,520. The LABJ Stock Index was down less than a point to 146.

Icahn Buys Stake in Herbalife as Battle Heats Up

Corporate raider Carl Icahn has thrown $214 million behind Herbalife Ltd., the Los Angeles maker of health foods and nutritional supplements accused of being a pyramid scheme by Icahn's foe, fellow Wall Street tycoon Bill Ackman, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Donor Fined for Laundering L.A. Campaign Contributions

A donor to the mayoral campaigns of City Controller Wendy Greuel and council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry was fined $170,000 on Thursday by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for laundering dozens of campaign contributions, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Hospitalized for Cancer

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss is being treated for cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Dorner Confirmed Dead in Autopsy

Christopher Dorner, the ex-Los Angeles police officer who went on a killing spree against his former law enforcement colleagues, is dead, CBS News reports.

Planning Commission Approves Plan to Reconfigure LAX Runways

A Los Angeles planning board gave its approval Thursday to a plan to modernize Los Angeles International Airport by reconfiguring two runways and building ground transportation infrastructure, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

O'Connor 'Sought Outlet' in Gambling

Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor took $2 million from a nonprofit foundation to feed a billion-dollar gambling habit that spanned a nine-year period, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Confidence on Upswing, Mergers Make Comeback

In the opening weeks of 2013, merger activity has suddenly roared back to life, the New York Times reports.

Anheuser-Busch InBev Revises Billion Takeover Plan

Anheuser-Busch InBev on Thursday moved to rescue its $20.1 billion proposed takeover of Grupo Modelo of Mexico, the maker of Corona beer, by offering concessions aimed at persuading American antitrust authorities to let the deal proceed, the New York Times reports.

CBS Takes Stake in AXS TV

CBS said Thursday it is trading programming and marketing for a minority stake in AXS TV, the television company owned by Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA, according to the Hollywoood Reporter.

Clippers Rule L.A. After Breezing Past Lakers

Did you ever think the day would come when the Clippers toyed with the Lakers? Few may have seen it coming, but it officially arrived on Valentine’s Day, Fox Sports West reports.

Markets Start Day Up

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 20 points to 13,993. The Nasdaq was up 4 points to 3,203. The S&P 500 was up 2 points to 1,523.

Thursday, February 14

Warner Bros. Starts L.A. Media Accelerator

Warner Bros. Entertainment announced Wednesday that it is starting an L.A. branch of Time Warner’s entertainment-focused accelerator, Media Camp Academy.

Skechers Swings to Profit on Sales Growth

Skechers USA Inc. swung to a fourth quarter profit as the shoemaker reported a large increase in the sales of its women’s shoes.

14 Arrested in Stock Fraud Case

Federal authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of 14 people, some of them from Los Angeles, on charges of manipulating stock prices for profits of more than $30 million.

L.A. Port Numbers Down, Long Beach Up

The Port of Los Angeles on Thursday reported lower container volume in January compared with the previous year.

Teacher Fund Opposes Disney Governance Plan

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced Thursday it will oppose corporate governance plans from Walt Disney Co. at the Burbank company’s shareholder meeting in Arizona next month.

DirecTV Profit Surges

DirecTV Inc.’s profit increased 31 percent in the fourth quarter, helped by asset sales and lower tax rates.

Markets Largely Flat

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10 points to 13,973. The Nasdaq was up 2 points to 3,199. The S&P 500 was up 1 point to 1,521. The LABJ Stock Index was down less than a point to 146.

Berkshire, 3G to Buy Heinz in $23 Billion Deal

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and private-equity firm 3G Capital are teaming up to buy ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz Co. in a $23 billion deal, one of the largest-ever acquisitions in the food industry, the Wall Street Journal reports.

American Airlines, US Airways Unveil $11 Billion Merger

AMR Corp. and US Airways Group announced their $11 billion all-stock deal on Thursday that gives creditors of the bankrupt American Airlines parent control of the combined airline, Reuters reports.

L.A. Tax Measure to Help Pay New Raises for City Employees

At a time when taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper to resolve L.A.’s chronic budget crisis, city employees are receiving raises that will cost tens of millions of dollars within a few years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Reports: Meredith Eyes Buying Time Warner Mags

Meredith Corp., the publisher of magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Fitness, is in early talks with Time Warner Inc. about buying several magazines from it, including People, InStyle and Real Simple, ABC News reports.

Closed Casino Banks on U.S. Program

Los Angeles nightclub operator and hotelier Sam Nazarian is set to begin construction on a $415 million renovation of the old Sahara casino and hotel, the Wall Street Journal reports. Nazarian and his partners are now able to move forward because they believe they are close to coming up with as much as $215 million from the immigrant investment program known as EB-5.

Los Angeles Residents Buying 200 Guns a Day

Los Angeles residents apply to buy 200 guns a day. The number is alarming to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who is trying to get guns off the streets, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Small Businesses Still Struggle, and That’s Impeding Recovery

In the recovery so far, small businesses have largely been left behind. Initially, loans were hard to come by and consumers weren’t shopping. Now, small-business owners say, Washington is throwing up additional roadblocks, the New York Times reports.

L.A. Archdiocese Releases New Names of Priests Accused of Sex Abuse

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has quietly added the names of two dozen priests and brothers to its list of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

USC Film School Raising Hollywood Profile

The USC School of Cinematic Arts keeps making a big push to gain more support among current Hollywood moguls and filmmakers who aren’t has-beens, Deadline reports.

A Course That Woods Has Yet to Master

Riviera Country Club, where a teenage Tiger Woods made his first PGA Tour appearance, is one he now conspicuously avoids. The former N.B.A. great Jerry West, the Northern Trust Open’s executive director, has tried to talk Woods into returning, as has Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava. Neither has made headway, the New York Times reports.

Americans Will Spend $815 Million on Pets This Valentine's

Valentine's Day gets knocked for being a manufactured holiday, but that's hardly stopping Americans from spending big bucks to celebrate it, Ad Age reports.

Markets Down Slightly in Early Trading

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 6 points to 13,977. The Nasdaq was down 4 points to 3,193. The S&P 500 fell 1 point to 1,520.

Wednesday, February 13

J2 Profit Grows

Continued strong growth in the online faxing business as well as the acquisition of high profile media properties brought J2 Online Inc. higher quarterly earnings and revenue.

Tech Company Analyzes State of the Union Speech

Data analysis company InferLink Corp. sifted through thousands of tweets during the State of the Union to determine the national reaction to the speech.

MPG Opts for Piecemeal Sale of L.A. Portfolio

Shares of MPG Office Trust Inc. closed down 18 percent Wednesday following a report that the downtown L.A. real estate investment trust has failed to find a buyer for its portfolio of L.A. office properties.

Participant Media Launches Film Fund

L.A. production company Participant Media announced Wednesday that it has launched a $100 million film fund partnership with the Doha Film Institute, a Qatar organization working to grow the film industry in the Middle East.

Markets Close Mixed

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 36 points to 13,983. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to 3,197. The S&P 500 was up 1 point to 1,520. The LABJ Stock Index was flat at 147.

Obama Pledges Raise in Minimum Wage

President Obama called on Congress on Tuesday night to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, saying that would lift millions out of poverty and energize the economy, the New York Times reports.

Dorner's Driver's License Found With Charred Remains

Authorities found a wallet containing Christopher Dorner's California driver's license inside the burned cabin in Seven Oaks, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.

Chamber Endorses Greuel

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday endorsed City Controller Wendy Greuel for Los Angeles mayor in next month’s primary election, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

N.Y. Mayor Gives $1 Million to L.A. School Board Slate

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $1 million to help preserve a Los Angeles Board of Education majority that has pushed for several controversial efforts dealing with teachers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Texas Governor Tries to Woo California Businesses

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is on a hunting trip in California. And the prey is Golden State businesses — and jobs, the Los Angeles Times reports.

E.U., U.S. Aim for Free-Trade Deal

The United States and European Union will begin talks later this year on a multi-trillion dollar free-trade pact to boost economic growth, CNN reports.

NBC's Ratings Stall in Midseason

After NBC enjoyed its strongest fall quarter in recent memory, the loss of Sunday Night Football and The Voice have erased the network's early gains, Adweek reports.

Big Investors Stiffen Their Resistance to Dell’s Offer

Michael Dell’s plan to take the computer maker private for $24.4 billion is the biggest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis. It is also quickly becoming one of the biggest deals in years to face a shareholder uprising, the New York Times reports.

Local Film Production Up Last Week

L.A. feature films generated 113 production days last week, up 69 percent from the same period last year, according to data from FilmL.A., which tracks location shoots that occur on city and county streets as well as those on non-certified soundstages, the Los Angeles Times reports.

CEOs Flying Coach? Business Travel Turns Frugal

More companies are equating business travel with budget travel, so they're asking employees to forgo some perks and trade down to lesser hotels and are banishing even senior executives to coach, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Markets Mixed in Morning Trading

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 26 points to 13,993. The Nasdaq rose 16 points to 3,202. The S&P 500 was up 3 points to 1,522.

Tuesday, February 12

Chamber Endorses Greuel

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday endorsed City Controller Wendy Greuel for Los Angeles mayor in next month’s primary election.

Cornerstone Posts Significant Revenue Growth

Cornerstone OnDemand on Tuesday announced significant revenue growth for the full year and fourth quarter although its operating losses continue.

Comcast to Own All of NBCUniversal

Comcast Corp. will own all of entertainment giant NBCUniversal after purchasing General Electric Co.’s 49 percent stake in the company for $16.7 billion.

Microsoft Confirms It Will Create Content in Silicon Beach

After keeping mum to the Business Journal about its plans for new office space in Santa Monica, Microsoft confirmed late Monday that it has opened the office to make content for the Xbox game console.

L.A. Marathon Scores Asics Sponsorship

The L.A. Marathon has a new title sponsor: the maker of Asics shoes.

Karlin Starts Office Hours

Karlin Ventures has set up office hours to give support and feedback to startups looking for a little free assistance.

ReachLocal Loss Narrows

ReachLocal Inc. reported growth in revenue and a narrower net loss for both its fourth quarter and full-year 2012, citing the success of its continued international expansion and new mobile products.

Capstone Shares Jump on Earnings

Shares of Capstone Turbine Corp. jumped more than 10 percent on Tuesday after the Chatsworth generator company reported improved earnings.

Molina Prices Debt Offering

Molina Healthcare Inc. announced Tuesday that it has priced a $450 million debt offering

Markets Tread Water

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 47 points to 14,019. The Nasdaq fell 6 points to 3,186. The S&P 500 rose 47 points to14,019. The LABJ Stock Index was nearly flat and closed at 146.

North Korea Confirms it Conducted Third Nuclear Test

North Korea confirmed Tuesday that it had conducted its third, long-threatened nuclear test, according to the official government news service, posing a new challenge for the Obama administration in its effort to keep the country from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, the New York Times reports.

Metrolink Executive Quits After Report Cites Accounting Problems

A high-ranking Metrolink executive resigned over the weekend following a scathing report that revealed accounting irregularities, poor management and record-keeping that made it difficult for board members to understand the railroad's financial situation, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Rhythm & Hues to File For Bankruptcy Protection

The award-winning visual-effects company Rhythm & Hues, considered one of the industry's leaders, is laying off 200 employees as it files for bankruptcy protection, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Former Villaraigosa Aide Says Budget Shortfall Overstated

One of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's former high-level budget advisors says that city officials are using "fuzzy math" to overstate the size of the projected budget shortfall, even as they press voters for passage of a sales-tax hike in the March 5 election, the Los Angeles Times reports.

TV's Dog the Bounty Hunter: $1M Reward for Dorner Will Bring Out the Pros

A $1 million reward for the arrest and conviction of Dorner has helped trigger more than 700 tips to the LAPD from the public on his possible whereabouts or information about his background. That money is also likely to attract people who make their living finding fugitives, the Daily Breeze reports.

Tesla's Elon Musk Lambasts New York Times Article

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has become incensed over a news article critical of the all-electric car that was published in The New York Times last week, reports CNET.

Businesses Weigh Response If Climate Rules Come

Businesses are weighing how to prepare for potential new rules on climate change, after President Obama has repeatedly promised to make the issue a priority in his second term, the Wall Street Journal reports. Obama is expected to flesh out in his State of the Union address Tuesday the broad-brush approach he outlined in his inaugural speech in January.

ABC, Univision Reveal Name of New Network Aimed at Hispanics

ABC and Univision on Monday revealed that their new news and lifestyle cable network targeting U.S. Hispanics will be called Fusion. The duo also announced that their English-language joint venture will launch in the second half of 2013, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Netflix, DreamWorks Partner on Original Kids Series

Days after launching "House of Cards," Netflix is applying the same approach to children's content. It's teaming with DreamWorks Animation to create Netflix's first original series for kids, CNBC reports.

Resorts Open Unbeaten Paths

Western ski areas are making it easier for customers to slip off designated slopes and onto backcountry terrain, despite the higher risk to skiers and snowboarders who seek the thrill of unofficial and ungroomed trails, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Markets Sluggish in Morning Trading

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 27 points to 13,999. The Nasdaq rose 1 point to 3,192. The S&P 500 also gained 1 point to 1,519.

Monday, February 11

Crash Launches Tourist Attraction App

Crash has just launched out of the Pasadena incubator Idealab to help tourists find the most photo-worthy attractions.

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Lions Gate Shares Climb on Earnings

Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. hit an all-time high on Monday as the Santa Monica independent studio swung to a third quarter profit, due in part to box-office smash “Twilight.”

NBCUniversal, Hearst Launch Esquire Network

Cable channel G4 is getting a makeover and will be rebranded as Esquire Network, the channel’s owner, NBCUniversal announced Monday.

James Cameron to Leave RealD Board

Filmmaker James Cameron has resigned from the board of Beverly Hills 3-D technology firm RealD Inc. due to his heavy workload, the company announced Monday.

Villaraigosa Calls for Tax Hike

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday formally endorsed a half-cent sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot.

Markets End Day Lower

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 22 points to 13,971. The Nasdaq fell 2 points to 3,192. The S & P 500 dropped 1 point to 1,517. The LABJ Stock Index closed down less than a point to 146.

Wine Service Moves to El Segundo

Subscription wine service Club W is moving its headquarters to El Segundo from San Francisco after raising money from L.A. tech investors.

$1 Million Reward Announced for Dorner

An extensive manhunt is continuing as Los Angeles officials announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Christopher Jordan Dorner, the former LAPD officer wanted in the killings of three people, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Pope Benedict Says He Will Resign

Citing advanced years and infirmity, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office, the first pope to do so in six centuries, the New York Times reports.

Gruel's Budget Draws Ridicule

Mayoral candidate Wendy Gruel's plans for major expansions of the police and fire departments, along with her pledge to abolish the city's business tax, set her apart, the Los Angeles Times reports. Her agenda would cost Los Angeles far more than anything proposed by her opponents.

American and US Airways May Announce a Merger This Week

After months of negotiations, American Airlines and US Airways appeared likely to announce a merger this week, which would create the nation's biggest airline and concentrate even further a once-fragmented industry, the New York Times reports.

"Identity Thief" Steals Weekend Box Office Title

Despite a blizzard in the U.S. Northeast, "Identity Thief," a newly released comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, collected $36.6 million in weekend ticket sales in the United States and Canada, making it the top-performing film, Reuters reports.

Fun, Mumford and Sons, Gotye Among Top Winners at Grammy Awards

It was a share-the-wealth evening at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, as a host of developing acts took home their share of trophies during the Staples Center ceremonies, Variety reports.

More Than a Pitchman: Why Stars Are Getting Marketing Titles

Brands aren't just featuring celebs in marketing campaigns -- they're giving stars a place in the marketing suite, Ad Age reports. The model for these tie-ups is a "partnership" anointing A-listers with lofty titles like chief creative officer, head of creative design, chief innovator and brand ambassador.

3 Killed in Helicopter Crash on Acton Reality TV Set

Three people died Sunday in an early-morning helicopter crash while taking part in the filming of a reality TV show in a rural area of northern Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Daily News Reports.

U.S. Northeast Digs Out From Blizzard, Tornado Strikes in South

The U.S. Northeast was digging out on Sunday after a blizzard dumped up to 40 inches (one meter) of snow with hurricane force winds, killing at least nine people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power, Reuters reports.

Home Prices Rise in 88% of Cities as Recovery Gains

Prices for single-family homes climbed in almost 88 percent of U.S. cities in the fourth quarter as the housing recovery broadened, Bloomberg reports.

Stocks Down Slightly in Morning

In Monday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points to 13,975. The Nasdaq fell 2 points to 3,192. The S&P 500 was down less than a half of a point to 1,518.

Facebook Stocking Full

Good investment lets painter brush up on his podcasting skills.

Facebook multimillionaire and artist David Choe records podcast rich with racy content

Deja Vu Develops in Pursuit of Cancer Treatment

BIOTECH: Soon-Shiong reacquires research from buyer of his Abraxis firm.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has rolled out another health care company and announced two new high-tech care programs in the L.A. biotech billionaire’s ongoing effort to revolutionize disease treatment and health care delivery.

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Honest Co. Chief Executive Brian Lee doubled up on duties by stepping back into the top position at ShoeDazzle.

LegalZoom co-founder Brian Lee has doubled down on the Internet as CEO of both ShoeDazzle and Honest Co.

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Microsoft Big On Westside

Real Estate: Tech titan doubles up on office leases.

Industry giant Microsoft plugs into L.A.’s Westside tech scene with two office deals.

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Dialed In

Fax firm J2 adds second line as Web publisher

Fax firm J2 dials further into publishing with acquisition of video game websites.

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Defense Contractor Cops to Pursuing Police Work

Technology: Raytheon looks to connect with first responders.

Defense contractor Raytheon looks to protect its revenue by branching into products for first responders

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Stretching Out

APPAREL: Joe’s Jeans looks to pocket more retail revenue with strategy to launch additional stores.

Joe’s Jeans is fashioning a stock surge with help from its retail store strategy

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Steel-Aluminum Distributor Irons Out Acquisition

METALS: Reliance pays $1.2 billion to purchase Florida competitor.

Reliance hammers out $1.2 billion deal for rival, and more acquisitions are expected.

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Seizure Leaves Vendor at Loss

Legal: XYZ still feels pain from 2010 sheriff’s sting.

Seller of secondhand items still feels locked up by Sheriff’s Department seizure of goods.

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Storm, Car Accidents Cut Mercury to the Quick

INSURANCE: Hurricane Sandy, rising auto claims feed fourth-quarter loss.

Rise in expense of car collisions helps crash Mercury’s fourth quarter earnings.

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Labor Group’s ‘Dining Guide’ Goes Down Wrong

Alison Harden sees no room at the table for a union group’s tactics to organize restaurant workers.

Higher Minimum Wage Will Lower Job Prospects

Legislators should learn from jobs lost after Long Beach voters backed living-wage rates for hotel workers.

Adam Summers writes that a higher-minimum wage will lower job prospects.

Tax Opposition Crosses Aisle

Charles Crumpley wonders why DreamWorks Animation is a public company, and he congratulates a state tax panel – for angering Democrats and Republicans.

Brokerage Sold on Bigger Downtown L.A. Presence

LEASE: Cassidy Turley takes larger space in deal valued at $2.1 million.

St. Louis brokerage Cassidy Turley Inc., which opened its first L.A. office only nine months ago, has signed a lease to move its regional offices into bigger space in downtown’s City National Plaza at 555 S. Flower St.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from and other sources

Onetime Broadcast Bible Sees Ad Resurrection

PUBLISHING: TV Guide marks big jump in page count for fourth quarter.

TV Guide Magazine’s owners see the ever-expanding TV channel lineup as a big boon to business, since networks and studios are now spending in the magazine to cut through the clutter.

Horse Track Hands Reins To New Casino Manager

GAMING: Hollywood Park looks to beef up gambling operations while pursuing mixed-use development.

Hollywood Park puts its money on new casino operator while its mixed-use project isn’t out of the starting gate.

MRV Rebounds With New Hardware Connection

TECHNOLOGY: Shares rise as router maker names fifth CEO in three years.

Appointment of new chief executive powers up stock of equipment provider MRV.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Tech Talk Plugs Into Political Arena

Startups Uncensored, Jason Nazar’s monthly coffee klatch, is normally a tech industry affair.

Valentine Treats Not Sugarcoated

Sugarfina offers up bittersweet labels for jokey candy kits.

Sweets maker Sugarfina unwraps tartly named treats for Valentine’s Day such as Men Are Pigs.

Getting in Gear on Environment

Bicycle maker hopes to clean up with recycled two-wheelers.

Bryce Edmonds peddles the eco-conscious angle of his bikes – they’re made with recycled aluminum.

Water Company Makes Big Splash With Investors

UTILITY: American States’ military contracts help lift shares to all-time high.

The performance of its military contracts has American States Water awash in investor enthusiasm.

Friday, February 8

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies gained for the week on positive corporate earnings and news that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed.

Markets Close Higher

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 49 points to 13,993. The Nasdaq rose 29 points, or 1 percent, to 3,194. The S&P 500 rose 9 points to 1,518. The LABJ Stock Index rose more than 1 point, or 1.5 percent, to 147.

Exclusive: Microsoft Expanding on Westside

Microsoft Corp. is close to signing two leases that would significantly expand its presence in L.A.’s Westside tech hotbed.

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Content Delivery Firm Prizes Employee Referrals

It’s been so tough to find the right people for the now 60 open spots that Edgecast has doubled down on its employee referral program.

L.A. Building to Be Tallest in West

Korean Air on Thursday unveiled its design for a dramatic, skyline-changing tower for downtown Los Angeles that aims to be the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The $1-billion, 73-story hotel and office building is slated to replace the old Wilshire Grand Hotel and be slightly taller than the nearby U.S. Bank Tower, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Airlines Cancel Flights as 'Nor'easter' Approaches

As a strong winter storm dubbed "Snowstorm Nemo" hit the Northeast, people are working from home and airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights for Friday, the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times report. At LAX, airlines so far have canceled at least 48 of today's arriving and departing flights.

Report: Some Port Strikers Reject Contract Terms

Workers at China Shipping, Evergreen and APM Terminals – all members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Local 63 Official Clerical Unit at the Port of Los Angeles – have rejected terms of contracts reached by their leaders in December following an eight-day strike, sources tell the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Workers at the other terminals voted to adopt their contracts this week.

Tax Holiday Ends, Consumers Scrimp

Most Americans who draw a paycheck saw their tax bill go up last month when a payroll-tax holiday expired. The question is whether that is prompting consumers to curb spending, just as the economy is struggling to gain traction. Some early signs suggest they are tapping the brakes, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times report.

Not Your Granny's Grammys

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, overseers of the Grammy Awards, were slow to recognize rock 'n' roll in the 1960s, and later infamously snubbed seminal albums by Eminem and Radiohead in favor of one released by Steely Dan 20 years past the jazz-rockers' prime. But as should be seen on this Sunday's show, the Wall Street Journal reports, the Grammys intend to be a more accurate mirror of today's music business, a volatile industry where both sales and stardom are spread more thinly than ever. The Los Angeles Times looks at how CBS plans to stoke Grammy excitement with lots of online extras.

Hedge Fund Manager Steps Up Attack on Herbalife

Hedge fund tycoon Bill Ackman, who is betting $1 billion that the health food and supplement maker Herbalife Ltd. will fail, releases more than 270 questions about the downtown L.A. company, the Los Angeles Times reports.

AMR Stands to Gain Vast Route Network

The anticipated merger of American Airlines parent AMR and US Airways Group would represent a departure from most other airline combinations, aimed more at creating a huge route network than at cost cutting, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Europe Drags on McDonald's Sales

McDonald's Corp. said its same-store sales dropped a worse-than-expected 1.9 percent amid slowing consumer demand in Europe and Japan, though there was a slight uptick in the United States for the fast-food chain, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report.

State Leads Nation in Advanced Bio-Fuel Companies

It isn't often that one gets to say that California has gotten it right in terms of attracting and supporting cutting-edge business enterprises. But in advanced bio-fuels, a new report says the state is leading the way, the Los Angeles Times reports. California has 30 of the more than 80 companies that now operate in 27 states.

Rabbits Have Reason to Hop in Year of Snake

The Year of the Snake, which starts on Feb. 10, may prove more successful for those born in the Year of the Rabbit, according to research firm Wealth-X, which says rabbits dominate the ranks of those globally with wealth of $30 million or more, Mykolas Rambus, the research firm's chief executive, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box."

Markets Rise This Morning

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 45 points to 13,989. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to 3,193. The S&P 500 rose 7 points to 1,516.

Thursday, February 7

PennyMac Financial Files for IPO

PennyMac Financial Services, the residential mortgage loan provider led by former Countrywide Financial president Stanford Kurland, on Thursday said that it filed with U.S. regulators to raise more than $287 million in an initial public offering.

Strong Quarter for Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard Inc. reported fourth quarter earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street forecasts.

Markets Down at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 43 points to 13,944. The Nasdaq fell 3 points to 3,165. The S&P 500 fell 3 points to 1,509. The LABJ Stock Index fell less than 1 point to 145.

FreedomPop Raises $4.3 Million More

FreedomPop, the West Los Angeles provider of free broadband Internet, announced Tuesday that has launched a sharing platform that allows its users to search their social networks to share and request more bandwidth from their friends.

Appointment Startup Snags L.A. Investors

L.A. investors have shown a strong interest in a customer-appointment booking startup that recently opened in town.

New Air Giant Takes Shape

American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. are hashing out the last major details of a merger agreement that would create the world's largest airline, sources tell the Wall Street Journal, which also reports on what the combination could mean for travelers.

Lucas Files for Permission to Sell $2B in Disney Shares

George Lucas might not intend on keeping all of his huge chunk of Disney stock very long, judging from a Wednesday regulatory filing signaling his right to sell more than 37 million shares – all the stock he received when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion last year, the Hollywood Reporter says. But a spokesperson also says Lucas "does not currently have any plans" to sell.

Hollywood Moguls Solicit Contributions for Greuel

The political adviser to Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg has sent a letter to Hollywood political activists soliciting $15,000 contributions to a local super PAC supporting City Controller Wendy Greuel’s run for Los Angeles mayor, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Los Angeles Urged to Phase Out Business Tax

Los Angeles city officials were urged Wednesday by the Business Tax Advisory Committee to undertake a 15-year phase-out of its gross receipts tax on business, as a way to woo new business, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

USC Cinematic Building Dedicated to Redstone

Sumner Redstone has joined an elite group of Hollywood heavyweights in cementing his legacy with a prominent USC building named in his honor, the Los Angeles Times reports. The billionaire media mogul, who gave $10 million to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, had the Sumner M. Redstone Production Building officially christened in his honor this week.

Traffic Delays? It Could Be Worse, L.A.

Texas A&M; Transportation Institute's annual Urban Mobility Report says traffic delays in congested areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties were far worse than the national average, with drivers spending an average of 61 hours a year in congestion. But that was not the worst among urban areas. That dubious honor went to Washington. We're only No. 2, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Einhorn Wants Apple to Think Differently About Its Cash

David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital has sued Apple, saying the company should give stockholders a bigger share of its $100 billion cash pile by giving away preferred stock, Reuters reports. CNBC host Jim Cramer discusses the pros and cons of the idea.

Can the Concert Industry Survive after Mick Jagger and Madonna Retire?

More than half of 2012's top 10 highest-grossing acts qualified for AARP membership, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Overhaul of Rating Agencies Bogs Down

Nearly everyone agrees there needs to be an overhaul of the way complex financial products get rated for their riskiness. But attempts to change the system keep running into the same roadblock: The rating agencies, however flawed, have become so crucial to Wall Street that no one can live without them, the Washington Post reports.

Analyst: Earnings Guidance Is Collapsing

Earnings results get the headlines, but for professional investors, what happened last quarter is nothing compared to a company’s guidance for quarters to come. From that perspective, the decent earnings we've seen thus far are masking a grim first quarter, Yahoo Finance's Breakout blog reports.

Pitfalls Seen in Growth of Part-Time Work

Although the state's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in almost four years and the number of employed Californians is growing, labor experts see a different reality: Full-time work has faded in many industries, with the long-term implications including growing wage disparities and the risk of dampening consumer spending, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Big Mac Prices Show Who's Best at Belt-Tightening

Forget about statistics for employment and industrial production. The price of a hamburger may better show where Europe's economic reforms are working – and where they are not, Reuters reports.

Markets Slide This Morning

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 98 points to 13,889. The Nasdaq fell 24 points to 3,145 The S&P 500 fell 9 points to 1,503.

Let's Date Hopes to Connect With Singles

Let’s Date launched Thursday as a free mobile app for matchmaking and date recommendations.

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Wednesday, February 6

Reliance Steel Makes Biggest Acquisition Ever

L.A.’s Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. has agreed to acquire Metals USA Holdings Corp. for about $766 million in a deal that will add 48 distribution centers for Reliance in the United States.

Report Suggests DreamWorks Layoffs Imminent

Layoffs are expected at Glendale animation studio DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. following disappointing returns from its latest release and an announcement that the studio will decrease its theatrical output this year.

Strong Fourth Quarter for CBRE

CBRE Group Inc. late Wednesday reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter thanks to strong sales globally.

Macerich’s Quarter Beats Wall Street Forecasts

Shopping mall owner Macerich Inc. said higher rent revenue and tenant occupancy at its shopping malls helped it post fourth-quarter results that were better than analysts expected.

Carlyle Completes Takeover of TCW

The acquisition of downtown Los Angeles asset manager TCW Group Inc. by the Carlyle Group and TCW management has closed, the companies announced Wednesday.

Markets Mixed at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 7 points to 13,986. The Nasdaq fell 3 points to 3,168. The S&P 500 rose 1 point to 1,512. The LABJ Stock Index rose a half point to 146.

Poll: How Do You Read Magazines?


The Los Angeles Business Journal has posted a new weekly poll for readers on issues in the news.

Pheed Reopens to the Public

Pheed’s audience grew so quickly that it stopped accepting new members at the end of December. One month later, Pheed has quietly reopened, allowing the public to sign up again.

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Users Tune in to Music Startup

Focus@Will announced Wednesday that it has opened its beta test to the public and already has 9,000 users.

USPS to End Saturday Delivery of Letters

The Postal Service announced today that it will stop delivering letters and most other mail on Saturdays, a move that the financially struggling agency said would save about $2 billion annually, the New York Times and CNN report. The USPS plans to continue Saturday delivery of packages, which remain a profitable and growing part of the delivery business, and post offices would still be open that day.

Council Approves NBCUniversal Development Plan

A $1.6 billion proposal to expand the Universal Studios theme park and production facilities won final approval from the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The plan has been seven years in the making and underwent multiple changes, including the removal of 3,000 proposed housing units.

Moving LAX Runway Closer to Homes Gets OK

Despite a fresh round of objections from neighborhood groups, airport commissioners on Tuesday endorsed a controversial plan to push Los Angeles International Airport's northern runway closer to nearby homes for safety and efficiency reasons, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Support Grows to Retain Tax Break for Angel Investors

Opposition is growing to a state tax board’s recent decision to take away a state tax break for angel investors – and make those who used it pay retroactively, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

DreamWorks Pushes 'Mr. Peabody' to 2014

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said Tuesday night that it is pushing back the release date for its animated movie "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" by four months, meaning the studio now will release only two films in 2013, the Los Angeles Times reports. An unspecified reduction in staff is expected in the wake of that move, and an expected write-down on the Glendale studio’s disappointing November release, "Rise of the Guardians," the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Malone Strikes Virgin Media Deal to Take on Murdoch

John Malone's Liberty Global struck a deal to buy British cable group Virgin Media for about $15.8 billion in stock and cash, a move that would put the U.S. billionaire up against old rival Rupert Murdoch, Reuters reports.

California Sues Standard & Poor's

California's attorney general sued rating agency Standard & Poor's on Tuesday, blaming S&P; for $1.36 billion in losses sustained by state pension funds CalPERS and CalSTRS, the Sacramento Bee reports. The lawsuit came a day after the federal government sued S&P; over losses suffered by investors nationwide.

Microsoft Takes a Side in PC Wars

Microsoft Corp.'s contribution to the Dell Inc. buyout is a $2 billion gamble that the software giant can prop up one of its biggest customers without annoying all the others, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Nasdaq Faces Facebook Fine

Nasdaq OMX Group's botched handling of Facebook's much-anticipated public offering last year cost Wall Street an estimated $500 million. U.S. securities regulators may end up fining the exchange group 1 percent of that, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

MGA Continues Fight with Former Law Firm

Bratz dollmaker MGA Entertainment Inc. has sued to block what it claims is an improperly awarded $23 million prejudgment lien granted to its onetime lawyers at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Reuters reports. The complaint accuses the downtown Los Angeles firm of breaching confidentiality provisions of an arbitration agreement in connection with its handling of MGA's litigation against Mattel Inc. over the Bratz line.

16 Years Later, Medical Marijuana Laws Still Hazy

California cities have tried regulating medical marijuana. Some have attempted to profit from it. And many such as Los Angeles, faced with a proliferation of storefront collectives they cannot control, have turned to banning it entirely, with mixed results, the Los Angeles Daily News and Sacramento Bee report.

Unions See Relief in Medical Marijuana

A growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are staffed by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the nation's largest retail union. It's a sign of the growing bond between struggling labor unions and the medical marijuana industry, which could use organized labor's political clout in Washington, Reuters reports.

The New DJs: Fitness Gurus

People who go to boutique fitness clubs are increasingly choosing their classes by the music played there, and the music industry is taking notice, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Markets Mixed in Morning Trading

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10 points to 13,969. The Nasdaq rose 2 points to 3,174. The S&P 500 fell less than 1 point to 1,511.

Tuesday, February 5

Support Grows to Retain Tax Break for Angel Investors

Opposition is growing to a state tax board’s recent decision to take away a state tax break for angel investors – and make those who used it pay retroactively.

Hollywood Park Casino Employees Informed of Layoffs

The owner of Inglewood’s Hollywood Park Casino plans to fire all 600 casino employees next month as it prepares to hand off operations to a different company, according to a memo sent to casino employees Monday.

Lower Disney Profit Beats Expectations

Walt Disney Co. late Tuesday reported a lower fiscal first quarter profit, as strong TV advertising revenue and gains at the entertainment giant’s theme parks were offset by lower DVD sales and higher costs to obtain rights for sporting events. But the results were a bit higher than expected.

Aecom’s Quarter Better Than Expected

Shares of Aecom Technology Corp. rose nearly 8 percent on Tuesday after the company reported lower fiscal first quarter revenue and profit that beat Wall Street expectations.

Analysts Say True Religion Is Negotiating Sale

Analysts at Benchmark Co. in New York have said they believe Vernon denim maker True Religion Apparel Inc. is currently negotiating a sale of the company, likely to a private equity firm.

Markets Rebound

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 99 points to 13,979. The Nasdaq rose 40 points, or 1 percent, to 3,172. The S&P 500 rose 16 points, or 1 percent, to 1,511. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1 point, or nearly 1 percent, to 145.

Tapiture Raises $825,000 for E-Commerce Expansion

Tapiture, a Venice startup website for men to share their favorite photos and videos, has tapped into $825,000 in seed funding.

Data Startup Launches Customer Retention Tool

Retention Science announced Tuesday that it has launched the Retention Score, a tool for letting its clients know how they’re faring at keeping customers.

Snapchat Moves Into Venice

The company that makes a popular picture and video messaging app has quietly moved into the “Blu House” on 523 Ocean Front Walk.

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Dell to Go Private in $24 Billion Deal

Dell announced this morning it agreed to go private in a $24.4 billion deal led by its founder and the investment firm Silver Lake, in the biggest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis, the New York Times reports. The Wall Street Journal says the deal also marks an unofficial end to the era when a handful of entrepreneurs made PCs the dominant computing device.

Candidates Offer Commitments to City Hall Union

Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, two top candidates for Los Angeles mayor, offered strong commitments of solidarity with the union representing a major chunk of civilian employees at City Hall, according to recordings of the sessions obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Inside the Lawsuit Against S&P

The Justice Department, lawsuit filed late Monday in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Standard & Poor's Ratings Service knew the housing market was collapsing but was intentionally slow to downgrade hundreds of companies, the Wall Street Journal reports. One piece of evidence: Song lyrics from March 2007.

Average Gas Prices Surge

Average California gasoline prices jumped 23 cents in the last week, passing $4 a gallon in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports. This latest surge follows a year in which the nation's motorists spent a greater percentage of their annual income on gasoline than at any time in the last three decades.

New Executive at NBCUniversal's Entertainment Channels

In a dramatic reorganization at NBCUniversal, respected programmer Bonnie Hammer has been promoted to lead the company's entire cable entertainment portfolio -- the most lucrative division, which generates approximately 50 percent of the media giant's operating cash flow, the Los Angeles Times and report.

Herbalife's Elusive Sales Data

Uncertainty over who buys Herbalife products has left shares of the company vulnerable to wild market swings in recent months, the New York Times reports.

California Alleges Violations at BP, Arco Stations

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris has filed a civil lawsuit against BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America Inc. and Atlantic Richfield Co., accusing them of violating state laws on hazardous materials and hazardous waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Virgin Media Confirms Liberty Talks

Virgin Media, founded by Richard Branson, confirmed that it's in discussions with John Malone's Liberty Global concerning a possible transaction, Variety reports.

Drive-ins to Get Help for Digital Conversion

Drive-in theaters threatened with extinction by the digital revolution are getting a helping hand, the Los Angeles Times reports. The National Association of Theatre Owners and the private company Cinedigm, which supplies digital equipment and content to the exhibition industry, said that they will help drive-ins secure financing for conversions.

Background Music to Life to Lose Its Name

For the word “Muzak,” the long elevator ride is finally over. Not that lilting instrumentals or mixes of pop hits are likely to disappear from restaurants, shops and offices. Its Canadian owner, Mood Media, is expected to announce today that it is consolidating its services under one brand, Mood, thus eliminating the Muzak name, the New York Times reports.

Markets Rebound in Morning Trading

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 118 points, or 1 percent, to 13,998. The Nasdaq rose 31 points, or 1 percent, to 3,162. The S&P 500 rose 14 points, or 1 percent, to 1,510.

Monday, February 4

J2 Doubles Digital Media Business With IGN Entertainment Acquisition

On Monday J2 announced that Ziff Davis has acquired IGN Entertainment, a source for video game news and reviews, from News Corp. for an undisclosed price.

TED Conference Leaves Long Beach for Vancouver

The TED Conference announced Monday that it is moving from Long Beach to Vancouver next year.

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AEG Evaluating Bids

Local billionaires, major capital equity firms and even sovereign wealth funds have surfaced as potential bidders for the AEG sports and entertainment empire as the second round of bidding enters its final stages.

Air Lease Makes Large Airbus Purchase

Air Lease Corp. said that it has ordered 39 Airbus jets in a deal estimated at $9 billion.

Cherokee Returns to School Uniform Business

Brand licensing company Cherokee Inc. said that it has reacquired the school uniforms category of its Cherokee Uniforms line from Strategic Partners Inc. in Chatsworth.

Hurricane Helps Push Mercury General to Loss

Shares of Mercury General Corp. fell 6 percent on Monday after the property casualty insurer reported a worse-than-expected fourth quarter, largely due to Hurricane Sandy claims on the East Coast and higher than normal seasonal losses in California.

Markets Close Down

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 130 points to 13,880. The Nasdaq fell 48 points to 3,131. The S&P 500 fell 17 points to 1,496. The LABJ Stock Index fell 1 point to 144.

LAX Ignored Requirements

A County of Los Angeles report claims the operators of LAX have virtually ignored 2006 legal requirements to disperse added commercial flights to other airports in the region, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Who Scored in Super Bowl Ads?

Chrysler's Jeep ad featuring a patriotic salute to U.S. troops and narration by Oprah Winfrey, an Oreo ad asking viewers to vote cookie or cream, and a scantily clad male Calvin Klein model were among standout commercials during a Super Bowl that suffered a half-hour partial blackout delay, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report.

Sea Launch Mission Fails

A rocket carrying a communications satellite failed to reach orbit and fell into the ocean after its launch from a floating platform near the equator. The Los Angeles Times reports that the failed launch is a setback for the rocket venture Sea Launch, previously based in Long Beach.

AEG to Battle Ticketmaster

Sports and entertainment giant AEG is angling to take on Ticketmaster. AEG is now selling concert tickets at its trio of L.A. Live venues via its AXS ticketing platform, the Los Angeles Times reports.

UK Declares New Powers to Break Up Banks

Britain's treasury chief warned the country's banks on Monday that they face being broken up if they fail to protect their retail operations from their riskier investment arms, the Associated Press and New York Times report.

Venture Firms Narrow Sights in Tough Times

Venture-capital firms are taking measures to survive a tough fundraising environment and lackluster returns, including gutting their partnerships, slashing their fund sizes and refocusing their investment areas, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Canadian Firm to Build Apartment Towers

Onni Group, a Canadian developer, has started work on a $100-million luxury apartment building in downtown, the Los Angeles Times reports.

FTC Wants Better Privacy Controls for Mobile Devices

The Federal Trade Commission wants the rapidly growing mobile industry to beef up its privacy controls and allow consumers to opt out of being tracked by ad networks on their smartphones, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Hebrew-Language Charter School Raises Questions

When Lashon Academy opens its doors this fall, its students will be taught to read and write in both English and Hebrew -- a first for a public school in Los Angeles. But the Los Angeles Times reports that the school has raised concerns that it and others blur the line between private and public campuses.

Stocks Down in Morning

In Monday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 108 points to 13,902. The Nasdaq fell 21 points to 3,158. The S&P 500 fell 11 points to 1,502.

Electronics Company Gets Line on Router Maker

TECHNOLOGY: Belkin picks up Linksys to boost network connections.

Electronics firm Belkin to pick up Linksys to boost its home networking connections.

Space to Move

INTERNET: Eventup looks to link up its list of unusual rentable venues with party and event planners.

Eventup looks to carve out space among event planners for its online listings of unusual venues.

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Reel Estate

Art house film chain seeks future role as venue owner

Art house chain Laemmle changes focus from tenancy to ownership at its theaters.

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Buttoned Up

True Religion’s Jeffrey Lubell has found jeans business good fit for his free spirit.

Independent spirit Jeff Lubell has fashioned a career out of high-priced denim as founder of jeans maker True Religion.

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from and other sources

Private Equity Firm Hopes to Fill Up on Vegetables

INVESTMENT: Brentwood joins in $20 million round for Veggie Grill chain.

Westwood private equity firm Brentwood Associates has doubled down on vegan-friendly restaurant Veggie Grill and will get a tighter grip on the growing company in return.

Web and Mobile Firms Play Valentine’s Day Card

INTERNET: Businesses woo customers with range of romantic offerings.

If you’re sadly unattached this Valentine’s Day, you can’t blame the local tech scene.

Terminal Operator Turns Up Pier Pressure on Port

TOURISM: Pacific Cruise setting sail to find out why it lost L.A. contract.

Cruise terminal operator sues to find out what sank its contract at Port of Los Angeles.

Label Maker Sticks With Plan to Sell Divisions

MANUFACTURING: Avery Dennison finds taker at 10 percent below 3M deal.

Canadian buyer peels off label maker Avery’s office products and design divisions.

Two Local Banks Check Out of Acquisition Deal

LENDING: Credit issues at NCAL helped to scuttle move by Grandpoint.

NCAL’s credit issues helped halt its acquisition by Grandpoint.

Regional Reports

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Dress Rehearsal a Must for Costume Designer

Costume designer Luke Reichle has good, basic advice for his star clients as they get ready for awards shows: Lay out your outfit in advance. Preparation is the best way to avoid last-minute, red-carpet emergencies.

Malibu Image Shaping Up

Seaside city looks to craft logo to use in product marketing.

Malibu looks to shore up its finances by selling a city logo that can be used to brand products.

It’s All in Wrist for Fashion Item

Oofkas co-creators hope their cuffs wear well at trade show.

Show business veterans try their hand at the apparel business with pricey wrist warmers.

Film Star Takes Shine To Tequila

George Clooney and nightclub operator launch liquor line.

Restaurateur Rande Gerber and actor George Clooney hope to catch lightning in a bottle with new tequila.

Aviation Mogul Hopes Pitch for Partner Takes Off

Robert Maguire looks to land a partner for his airport terminal business as he seeks to pay down big debt.

Mouse Hole For Burbank

REAL ESTATE: Disney exit to trap market in office glut.

Burbank is far from the happiest place on Earth as Disney plans massive exodus from office tower.

Levy Change an Angel Downer

TAXES: Loss of break could ground startup investment.

State board pulls plug on break that could have powered up L.A.’s growing tech scene.

Golf Tourney Swings for Koreans

SPORTS: Northern Trust Open hopes to fit fan group to a tee.

Pro golf’s Northern Trust Open aims for more green by drawing Korean fans to the event.

Public Policymakers Need to Connect With Private Sector

John C. Cushman III and Michael H. Kelly push changes to city of L.A.’s public policies to private sector.

Pushing Independence

Thailand’s street vendors have much to teach Los Angeles about stoking entrepreneurial spirit.

Benjamin Mark Cole sees opposition to sidewalk vendors curbing business opportunities in Los Angeles.

Two Thumbs Way Down

Movie industry critic Charles Crumpley would like to pull the red carpet out from under the Oscars.

Deal for Valley Office Campus Priciest in Decade

ACQUISITION: Brookfield shells out $92 million for Corporate Pointe.

A sprawling office campus in West Hills has been sold for $92 million, the largest office sale in the market in more than a decade.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

Friday, February 1

Mattel Shares Up on Price Hikes

Mattel Inc. shares closed up slightly on Friday amid news that the company plans to raise prices in markets around the world.

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies gained for the week as investors reacted to positive economic news and earnings reports.

Markets Up at Close

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 149 points, or 1 percent, to 14,010. The Nasdaq rose 37 points, or 1 percent, to 3,179. The S&P 500 rose 15 points, or 1 percent, to 1,513. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1 point, or 1 percent, to 145.

Ellie Launches With $2 Million in Funding

Ellie, the latest e-commerce company to come out of Mike Jones’ incubator Science Inc., has created a hybrid subscription service for women who want to buy high-end workout clothing without the high-end prices.

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Dow Passes 14,000 for First Time Since 2007

U.S. stocks started a new month with strong gains, as the Dow industrials today moved above 14,000 for a time Friday morning before retreating. The January jobs report bolstered thinking that the lackluster recovery remains on track, MarketWatch reports. CNBC looks at what's next for the markets.

Strong Jobs Report Trumps Decline in GDP

So is the economy growing at a good clip or shrinking? The answer may lie somewhere in between. Just two days after Commerce Department said that the U.S. economy shrank slightly in the last quarter of 2012, the Labor Department announced today that according to revised numbers, that very same economy produced jobs at a rapid clip in November and December, with the momentum carrying into January, BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal report. Manufacturing also grew more last month than forecast, Bloomberg News reports.

L.A. Chamber Endorses City Sales Tax

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the half-cent sales tax measure on the city’s March ballot, citing the need to preserve law enforcement, firefighting and other vital city services, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

Retired Cardinal Relieved of Public Duties

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who has stood at the center of the Los Angeles Archdiocese clergy sex abuse scandal after mounting evidence showed he shielded pedophile priests from law enforcement, has been relieved of all public duties, Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who served as Mahony's vicar of clergy and his point person on sex abuse cases, also has resigned as regional bishop of Santa Barbara, the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News report.

Production in Canada Declines

Foreign location production, mostly by U.S. producers, has taken a breather in Canada, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Total spending there by Hollywood studios was down by more than 10 percent as the industry finally felt the pinch of a rising Canadian dollar.

Californians More Optimistic about State's Direction

The Los Angeles Times reports that Californians are more optimistic about the direction of their state and the condition of its economy than they have been in years, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Anthem Critics Call for Ballot Initiative to Cap Insurance Costs

As about 730,000 California health insurance consumers' rates rise an average 17.5 percent today, a consumer group is renewing its support for a ballot initiative to rein in costs, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Anthem Blue Cross and the California Association of Health Plans said the rate boosts were necessary and in line with industry norms and federal health care requirements.

SEIU Ready to Strike at Hospital for Show Biz Retirees

A labor dispute at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s care facility and hospital in Calabasas heated up Thursday, with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West's chief negotiator telling the Hollywood Reporter that the company “needs to stop the stonewall” and negotiate “openly.” Union members have voted to authorize a strike.

Introducing the Facebook Card

Facebook is targeting a multibillion-dollar business as it tries to regain the confidence of investors worried about the company's money-making potential. A new gift card works with all retailers and can have multiple balances – say for bread sticks at Olive Garden or a box of diapers at Target – and balances can be monitored on Facebook mobile apps. While founder Mark Zuckerberg warns that his company's gifts and retail business won't trickle revenue for some time, investors are pinning their hopes on Facebook making a major play in commerce, the Los Angeles Times reports.

U.S. Sues to Block Big Beer Merger

The Justice Department moved Thursday to block beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev from merging with Corona maker Grupo Modelo, arguing that the deal would threaten competition and raise prices for consumers, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal report. Antitrust officials said they were alarmed by the prospect of Belgium-based AB InBev gaining even more market share by buying a direct competitor that is Mexico’s largest maker.

Markets Rise This Morning

After popping above 14,000 earlier Friday morning, the Dow Jones industrial average retreated some. It was up 132 points, or 1 percent, to 13,993. The Nasdaq rose 37 points, or 1 percent, to 3,178. The S&P 500 rose 14 points, or 1 percent, to 1,513.

Chamber Endorses L.A. Sales Tax Measure

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted to endorse the half-cent sales tax measure on the city’s March ballot, citing the need to preserve law enforcement, firefighting and other vital city services.