MEGAMERGER: Comcast Corp.’s proposed $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc. could face close scrutiny from U.S. antitrust regulators because of the deal’s potential to reshape the country’s pay-TV and broadband markets. The company resulting from the merger of the top two U.S. cable service providers would boast a footprint spanning from New York to Los Angeles, with a near 30 percent share of the pay-TV market as well as a strong position in providing broadband Internet services. The all-stock deal would put Comcast in 19 of the 20 largest U.S. TV markets, including Los Angeles, and could give it unprecedented leverage in negotiations with content providers and advertisers.
SOLD: Bunker Hill’s Two California Plaza, one of the tallest office buildings in downtown Los Angeles, has been acquired by Hollywood-based real estate investor CIM Group for an undisclosed price. The office tower is the best known property in an eclectic portfolio acquired by CIM that includes a regional shopping center in Montclair and a hotel in Bakersfield, according to news reports.
BARBIE TIME: Sports Illustrated’s “Legends”-themed 50th annual swimsuit issue, which hits stands this week, will feature the iconic Barbie doll in the swimsuit that made her famous. El Segundo’s Mattel Inc. approached the magazine about the project last year. The magazine features a modern Barbie wearing a version of the black-and-white striped swimsuit an earlier version of doll wore when it was introduced in 1959.
DUMB DONE: Dumb Starbucks, a parody Los Feliz coffee shop created by Comedy Central star Nathan Fielder, was shut down last week, a few days after its debut, but not by lawyers from real Seattle-based coffee retailer. The shop, which attracted lines of customers on Hillhurst Avenue by offering free samples of coffee and hot chocolate, was closed by the city’s Health Department, which said the operation lacked necessary permits.
ACCELERATOR: Walt Disney Co. said it will invest $1.2 million in early stage entertainment and media technology startups through its new Disney Accelerator. The Burbank entertainment giant is working with Techstars, a Boulder, Colo., accelerator that has similar partnerships with Nike Inc., Sprint Corp. and Barclays. The program will give 10 companies about $120,000 in financing and access to executives, entertainment industry leaders and venture capitalists.
PIGGY DEAL: Virtual Piggy Inc. has announced that its Oink payment system will soon work with transactions over the Discover Network, the fourth largest credit card company. Hermosa Beach-based Virtual Piggy’s system offers children and teens too young to have a credit card a secure payment system to make purchases from e-commerce sites without having to turn over identity information to the merchant.
CIRQUE DEAL: Saban Brands will work with Cirque du Soleil Media to create an original, multiplatform children’s media property based on the entertainment brand. Saban Brands, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group in Los Angeles, said the deal would include a TV series, online content and merchandise. Cirque du Soleil Media is a Montreal-based joint venture of Cirque du Soleil and Toronto media giant Bell Media. Saban Capital is headed by L.A. billionaire Haim Saban.
DREAM READ: DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has started an in-house printing division to produce print and digital books featuring its animated characters from franchises including Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. The Glendale studio is partnering with Perseus Books Group of New York on DreamWorks Press, with titles to be released in time for this holiday season. In addition to books based on DreamWorks films, the publishing division will tap characters from the DreamWorks Classic portfolio, such as Lassie and Casper the Friendly Ghost.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: A proposal under discussion at the California Public Utilities Commission would require Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to procure at least 600 megawatts of power from preferred nonfossil-fuel sources to help replace the electric power once provided by the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant. The sources could include wind and solar power, energy-efficiency programs and local generation from roof-top panels. The proposed procurement plan, written by an administrative law judge, could go to a commission vote next month.
MOVIE MAN: Mayor Eric Garcetti has named entertainment industry attorney Ken Ziffren, a partner at L.A.’s Ziffren Brittenham, his new film czar. Garcetti, who created the Mayor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Production last year to boost filming in the city, said in the announcement that he supports doubling the state’s annual $100 million film tax credit program. Ziffren will serve in the position on a part-time basis. He replaces Tom Sherak, who headed that office for a short period until his recent death from cancer.
EARNINGS: Cheesecake Factory Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $33 million, compared with $22 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 2 percent to $475 million. ... ReachLocal Inc. reported a loss of $585,000, compared with a loss of $394,000. Revenue rose 11 percent to $133 million. ... Molina Healthcare Inc. reported a loss of $9.1 million, compared with net income of $25.6 million. Revenue rose 8 percent to $1.71 billion. ... Health Net Inc. reported net income of $19.8 million, compared with net income of $6 million. Revenue fell more than 3 percent to $2.7 billion. ... Motorcar Parts of America Inc. reported net income of $1.1 million, compared with $935,000. Revenue rose 29 percent to $65.6 million.
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