MOVING: After nearly a century in Los Angeles, Westwood oil giant Occidental Petroleum Corp. has announced that it will move its headquarters to Houston and spin off its California operation. The announcements were the biggest steps yet in a major corporate restructuring aimed at boosting profitability and shareholder confidence. Occidental will spin off its California oil and gas assets into a separate publicly traded company, with an estimated 8,000 full-time and contract employees. Headquarters for the new company were not announced. The remainder of Occidental’s operations, including those in the West Texas Permian Basin, Colombia and the Middle East, will be run out of Houston.
INCENTIVES: Two local assemblymen have introduced legislation to ramp up California’s efforts to hold on to film and TV production. Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) said they will propose a bill that would expand the state’s $100 million tax credit program to better compete with other states with far larger tax credit programs. Other changes would include making the tax credit available to all productions, including big-budget blockbusters.
REORGANIZATION: Easton-Bell Sports Inc. in Van Nuys has reached an agreement to sell its baseball and softball business for $330 million to Bauer Performance Sports of Kitchener, Ontario. The sporting goods manufacturer said it also is negotiating with another company to sell its hockey equipment business. After the sales, Easton-Bell plans to rename itself BRG Sports and focus on its remaining businesses in helmets, football, cycling and other actions sports equipment sold under the Riddell, Giro, Blackburn and Easton brands.
PARTY’S OVER: Inglewood event rental and services provider Classic Party Rentals Inc. has received initial bankruptcy court approval to sell most of its business to a newly established entity owned by the company’s lenders. Classic, which provides tents, tables, chairs, linens, ground cover, catering and climate-control equipment, grew rapidly through acquisitions from 2004 to 2008 to become the largest vendor of its kind in the United States, with 39 locations. It filed for Chapter 11 reorganization earlier this month, saying it struggled under its debt load and never recovered after business slowed during the recession. Any potential higher bidders will be solicited before the deal is finally approved.
FORECAST: The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.’s latest forecast says the county will add nearly 60,000 jobs this year for a 1.6 percent growth rate, matching the growth of last year. But growth is expected to slow to 1.2 percent next year with the county only adding about 48,000 jobs. The largest job gains this year are expected in health care and social assistance, followed by leisure, hospitality, construction and manufacturing. Real estate and information are forecast to lose jobs.
BOOK DEAL: Saban Brands has signed a global publishing deal with Random House Children’s Books for an interactive collection of books inspired by its preschool television series featuring the popular Julius Jr. monkey character. The affiliate of L.A. billionaire Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group said the books will be available beginning this fall. Saban Brands bought rights in 2010 to the Julius family of characters created by Paul Frank.
NEW OWNERS: Fort Worth, Texas, investment firm TPG has completed its $394 million acquisition of Compton’s Arden Group Inc., which operates the Gelson’s Markets chain. Gelson’s, based in Encino, operates 17 upscale supermarkets across Southern California. TPG plans to increase the number of Gelson’s by as many as 10 stores, with the first postacquisition market to open in La Canada Flintridge at the end of March.
PORT TRAFFIC: Traffic at the Port of Los Angeles rose 2.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, while activity at the Port of Long Beach fell 1.4 percent. Imports at Los Angeles jumped 6.7 percent; exports were up 1.7 percent. Long Beach imports rose 2 percent; exports declined 3.4 percent.
RECALL: Nestle USA has issued a voluntary recall of Hot Pockets Philly Steak and Cheese sandwiches made at its Chatsworth plant. The Swiss food and beverage company, with U.S. headquarters in Glendale, reportedly used a small quantity of meat that came from Petaluma’s Rancho Feeding Corp., which recently was cited by regulators for processing “diseased and unsound animals.”
GREATER RANGE: Santa Monica public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9) has acquired KDB-FM (93.7) in Santa Barbara for a reported $1 million to increase its reach up the coast. KQSC-FM (88.7) in Santa Barbara, agreed to turn over its frequency to KCRW as it moves its KUSC-FM (91.5) classical programming to KDB. KCRW plans to staff its new outpost at Antioch University in Santa Barbara with at least two full-time staffers, along with interns.
DEAL COMPLETED: London private equity firm Permira has completed a $200 million investment in LegalZoom.com Inc., making it the largest shareholder of the Glendale legal services company. The equity financing will be used to expand the business of LegalZoom, which last month announced that it would not pursue an initial public offering. Permira gains the power to appoint most of the company’s board, but LegalZoom’s management team and its early venture partners, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, maintain most of their ownership stakes.
EARNINGS: Herbalife reported fourth quarter net income of more than $123 million, compared with $112 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 20 percent to $1.3 billion. ... DirecTV reported fourth quarter net income of $810 million, compared with $942 million. Sales rose 6.7 percent to $8.59 billion.
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