NEW MAYOR: Eric Garcetti trounced Wendy Greuel in a hard-fought battle to succeed Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles. The winning strategy: Garcetti painted Greuel as the handpicked candidate of the Department of Water and Power, an agency that’s unpopular with voters. Greuel won a vast majority of the African-American vote, but lost by wide margins among other demographics, even in her San Fernando Valley base.
RATE CUT: State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and the Automobile Club of Southern California announced a roughly 4 percent reduction in auto insurance rates for policies that are written or renewed after July 1. About 1 million club auto policyholders are expected to see an average $65 reduction in annual insurance premiums, for a total of $70 million in annual savings over time.
ESPN LAYOFFS: Cable sports network ESPN will lay off about 400 workers as part of cost-cutting efforts by parent company Walt Disney Co. of Burbank. It’s unclear which parts of ESPN will bear the brunt of the cuts. The network is headquartered in Bristol, Conn., where it has about 4,000 employees, but it also has significant editorial and broadcast operations in Los Angeles, where some “SportsCenter” episodes are taped. ESPN has a global workforce of about 7,000.
NEW AUDITOR: Herbalife Ltd. on Tuesday said that it had hired PricewaterhouseCoopers LP as its new auditor, more than a month after KPMG LLP resigned when an L.A. partner was charged with insider trading. The downtown L.A. multilevel marketing nutrition company said PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit its financial statements for the current fiscal year and reaudit statements for 2010 through 2012.
GUILTY PLEA: Bryan Shaw, who owns a jewelry story in Encino, has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and has agreed to turn over $1.27 million in profits he made by trading on tips about Herbalife and other companies that were provided by KPMG auditor Scott London. KPMG fired London in early April.
POT SHOPS: City of L.A. voters approved a measure to limit marijuana dispensaries to 135, which was the number that were operating before a 2007 moratorium. The shops will be required to pay 6 percent of their gross receipts in taxes. It’s estimated that at least 550 and as many as 1,400 dispensaries opened after the moratorium; those will be ordered to close.
AD PLATFORM: J2 Global Inc.’s Ziff Davis unit has acquired online network NetShelter from San Francisco ad platform InPowered. NetShelter has more than 150 consumer and business tech sites, including SlashGear, MacRumors and TechSpot, that deliver nearly 16 billion ad impressions per year, said Ziff Davis, which is a New York division of Hollywood online services provider J2 Global. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal combines NetShelter’s properties with existing Ziff Davis technology sites, which include PCMag.com, Geek.com and Toolbox.com.
STOCK SALE: Carlyle Group, the largest investor in Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc., is selling off a portion of its holdings in the Valencia aircraft parts distributor through a secondary offering of common stock. The offering seeks to sell 15 million shares of common stock, but affiliates of the Washington, D.C., private equity firm also could offer an additional 2.25 million shares.
ASIAN MOVE: Live Nation Entertainment Inc. has formed a joint venture with Singapore’s Lushington Entertainments to promote live concerts in Hong Kong and Singapore. The deal expands the Beverly Hills concert promoter’s presence in Asia; the company already has offices in Hong Kong; Beijing; Shanghai; Seoul, South Korea; and Tokyo. Live Nation has collaborated in the past with Lushington, which has been in the region since 1990 when it was created to promote Eric Clapton’s first Asian tour.
MOBILE ADS: UberMedia, a Pasadena tech company headed by Bill Gross, has launched UberAds, a mobile advertising platform that seeks to make ads on phones and tablets more relevant to people. To do this, UberAds looks at people’s mobile presence – what they’ve shared through social media and location technology – to provide targeted advertising. Then it will serve up an ad in an app or on a mobile Web browser. For example, UberAds might send a pop-up ad about Nike to those close to a retail store who have indicated on Twitter that they like to exercise.
RECOVERY MILESTONE: Los Angeles County’s economic recovery notched a milestone in April when the unemployment rate fell to 9.9 percent, the first time it was below 10 percent since December 2008. The news was tempered by a flat payroll jobs market as gains in construction and retail were offset by sharp drops in entertainment and local government payrolls. April’s 9.9 percent unemployment rate was down from 10.2 percent in March and 11.2 percent a year ago.
REFINERY SALE: Tesoro Corp. has received approval from state and federal regulators to buy BP’s oil refinery in Carson and other assets. The $2 billion deal between the San Antonio refiner and the London oil and gas giant was first announced in August. State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tesoro and BP agreed to retrofit both the Carson refinery and a Tesoro refinery in nearby Wilmington to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, Tesoro agreed to keep the gas-station brand Arco as a low-cost retail fuel provider and to keep more than 1,000 jobs at the Wilmington refinery for at least two years.
DISNEY SHARES: Bob Iger, Walt Disney chairman and chief executive, has sold 1 million Disney shares for a profit of $39.7 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The options were exercised at a price of $29.51 and the shares were sold for an average price of $67.23. Iger still owns about 1.2 million Disney shares.
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