RUNWAY LAWSUIT: A neighborhood coalition, labor union and four local governments have sued Los Angeles World Airports, challenging its latest round of construction at Los Angeles International Airport. The suits allege that the LAX operator is violating state environmental impact requirements for its $4.75 billion project, which includes a plan to move the north runway closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey. Plaintiffs include the cities of Inglewood, Culver City and Ontario.
DONE DEAL: Tesoro Corp. has completed the purchase of BP PLC’s Carson refinery in a deal valued at $2.4 billion. The San Antonio oil company hopes to become a bigger force in the California gasoline market through the deal. The Carson facility will be Tesoro’s third plant in California and is near a Tesoro facility in Wilmington. The deal includes a logistics network of pipelines and storage terminals as well as more than 800 dealer-operated Arco gas stations in Southern California.
COURT FIGHT: Tutor Perini Corp. was in Nevada Supreme Court last week, arguing that an unopened Las Vegas hotel that it built for MGM Resorts International should not be demolished. MGM accused the Sylmar construction firm of shoddy construction on the 26-story Harmon Hotel, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of MGM’s $8.5 billion CityCenter development. A $500 million civil lawsuit over the issue won’t go to trial until January. Tutor Perini contends that demolition would destroy material evidence as well as unfairly influence jurors.
DIVIDEND RESUMED: Wilshire Bancorp Inc. said that it would resume paying a quarterly dividend at the end of the second quarter. The parent of Wilshire State Bank said that shareholders will be paid a cash dividend of 3 cents a share July 15. The company suspended a 5-cents-a-share dividend in April 2010. Wilshire took heavy losses in 2010 and 2011, prompting scrutiny by regulators. Regulatory oversight by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco was lifted in October.
NEW AIRLINE: The Federal Aviation Administration has given Santa Monica’s Surf Air approval to launch limited service. The company’s business model is to offer commuter flights between small airports along the West Coast, with the option of unlimited flights for a $1,650 monthly subscription fee. The first flights will be between Burbank and Silicon Valley.
FILM INCENTIVES: The California Film Commission has awarded 31 film and TV producers $100 million in film tax credit funds after a record 380 projects applied for the money. The winners include 14 feature films and a dozen cable TV series. The film commission said the record number of applicants shows that producers want to stay in California if financially feasible for their project.
LAYOFFS: AeroVironment Inc. has implemented a workforce reduction, but did not specify how many people had been laid off. The Monrovia company, which specializes in aviation, particularly unmanned aircraft, and alternative energy, said that business in both segments has been slower than expected and a workforce reduction was necessary in both business segments. It expects to take a $1.1 million charge in its fiscal first quarter that will end July 27.
STARTUP FUND: Jason Calacanis, one of L.A.’s most colorful tech entrepreneurs, is raising a $10 million venture fund to back startups that present through his Launch conference program. The plan for the Mahalo fund is to invest $25,000 to $100,000 in five to 10 startups a year.
ROUTE CHANGE: The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association are changing routes in an effort to reduce freighter collisions with whales. Shipping lanes within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary will be adjusted to reduce the risk of collisions with whales. Airplanes will be used to spot whales migrating along the California coast. The new routes will affect shipping association member companies and other commercial vessels.
SHUFFLE: Signature Group Holdings Inc. has announced another leadership change as the Sherman Oaks finance company settled a proxy battle with an investor group. Signature Group, the successor to failed subprime lender Fremont General Corp., said Craig Bouchard has been named chairman and chief executive. Bouchard led a group of investors, known as New Signature LLC, which presented a slate of directors in April, arguing that the company’s leadership wasn’t generating enough shareholder value.
CIO NAMED: Homebuilder Ryland Group Inc. has added a chief operating officer to its roster of executives as part of an organizational change geared toward expansion plans. The Westlake Village company named veteran executive Pete Skelly to the position. He has served as the company’s regional vice president of financial operations, a division president and a regional president in his 25 years with the company.
TESTING NEWS: Valencia biotech company MannKind Corp. completed one of two required trials of its experimental inhaled insulin drug Afrezza. MannKind announced that it had completed a trial of the drug, and planned to submit the information to the Food and Drug Administration later this year. A second study is expected to be completed in the coming months.
MALL SALES: Macerich Co. has sold a shopping mall and a mixed-use project, both in Indiana, and is under contract to sell three more malls later this month. The Santa Monica real estate investment trust said proceeds from the sale of the mall will be about $470 million. The company said that it expected to close on the sale of three other malls by the end of the month, but did not give their locations. After the deals are complete, Macerich will own or have interests in 57 regional shopping centers.
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