DEPARTURES: 99 Cents Only Stores have announced that former Chief Executive Eric Schiffer, Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Gold and Executive Vice President Howard Gold were terminated without cause to accelerate the company’s growth strategy. The announcement comes a year after private-equity firm Ares Management LLC and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board acquired the family-run business for $1.6 billion. Board member Richard Anicetti will serve as interim chief executive.
NEW CEO: Kevin Tsujihara has been named the next chief executive of Warner Bros. Entertainment, the company announced. Tsujihara will take over from Barry Meyer on March 1, with Meyer remaining as chairman through this year. Tsujihara has been president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group since 2005, overseeing the company’s home video, digital distribution, video games, anti-piracy and emerging technology operations.
BRATZ RULING: The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last week reduced by $172 million the damages that El Segundo toymaker Mattel Inc. has to pay MGA Entertainment Inc. in their long-running dispute over MGA’s popular Bratz dolls. The court ruled that MGA’s trade-secrets countersuit should not have been tried by the jury, because it was not sufficiently relevant to Mattel’s initial suit. Van Nuys-based MGA also claimed a victory in the appeals ruling, noting that Mattel was still liable for $136 million in legal costs.
CONVICTION: Tyrone Freeman, a former L.A.-area Service Employees International Union leader, has been found guilty of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from his labor organization. Freeman, who had been president of SEIU Local 6434 and an affiliated chapter of home care workers, was once a rising star in the SEIU. He faces a maximum of more than 180 years in prison.
GAS PRICES: The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County last week recorded its largest increase since early October, rising by 3.9 cents before settling at $3.85. The Automobile Club of Southern California and Oil Price Information Service said the sharp rise stems from low supplies as refineries approach their maintenance cycles, which will take some plants off-line. The average price is 23.1 cents higher than one month ago and 6.1 cents greater than one year ago.
BALLOT MEASURE: The Los Angeles City Council has voted to place an initiative regulating medical marijuana dispensaries on the May ballot. The measure would sharply reduce to 127 the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city from a currently estimated 1,000. It also will impose a steep gross receipts tax on the remaining facilities. Another measure on the ballot would protect the interests of newer dispensaries.
VACATION THEFT: The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has arrested four men accused of burglarizing the homes of Los Angeles Times newspaper subscribers who were on vacation. The gang allegedly stole $1 million in property over the last three years. One suspect allegedly obtained lists of subscribers who had submitted vacation holds. Investigators said they have identified 25 victims but believe that more than 100 households were burglarized in the case.
LAX ACTIVITY: The number of passengers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport last year continued to grow, as the Southern California economy picked up and airlines added international flights. Total traffic of 63.7 million in 2012 marked a 3 percent increase over the 61.9 million passengers in 2011 and marked the busiest year since 2000. The number of passengers passing through LAX in December was 5 percent higher than the same month the year before.
LAWSUIT: A K-Swiss Inc. investor has sued the company over its pending $170 million acquisition by South Korean retailer E.Land World Ltd., alleging that executives of the sports brand should have gotten a better deal for shareholders. David Raul said in his lawsuit, filed in Delaware, that 75 percent of voting power is held by the Westlake Village company’s officers and directors, which will “essentially ensure that the proposed transaction will be approved” and discourages higher alternative bids. K-Swiss announced the $4.75 a share deal Jan. 17, which was a 40 percent premium over the previous day’s close.
NEW NAME: Shenzhen New World Group Co., a Chinese hotel ownership group that owns the L.A. Hotel Downtown at 333 S. Figueroa St., said that it will spend $20 million to convert the independent hotel into a Hyatt Regency hotel and conference center. Renovations have already begun and are expected to be completed by May. Each of the 419 guest rooms and 72 suites in the 22,000-square-foot hotel will be redone with wall treatments, carpet, upgraded bathrooms, and new bedding and furnishings.
MAYOR’S RACE: Speaking at a debate on jobs and the economy, the five leading candidates for L.A. mayor promised to eliminate the gross receipts tax, streamline the permitting process and focus on creating green jobs if elected. But the candidates withheld full support of projects backed by the business community, including plans to improve Los Angeles International Airport and proposals for new rail lines at the ports. And they wouldn’t promise to oppose extending the city’s living-wage laws. The debate at UCLA included Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez.
EARNINGS: Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported fourth quarter net income of $336 million, 79 lower than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 2 percent to $6.17 billion. ... International Rectifier Corp. reported a fiscal second quarter net loss of $32.7 million, 411 percent greater than the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 11 percent to less than $225 million. ... Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. reported fiscal first quarter net income of $99 million, 10 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 5 percent to $2.76 billion. ... Health Net Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $5.1 million, 91 percent lower than in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose more than 4 percent to $2.83 billion.
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