SUSHI: Fuji Food Products Inc., a Santa Fe Springs company that makes packaged sushi, plans to open a manufacturing plant in the Chicago suburbs. The 40,000-square-foot plant in South Elgin, Ill., will be the company’s third. Fuji, a division of Downey’s Meruelo Group, sells noodle salads, veggie burgers and sushi to more than 6,000 convenience stores, airports, supermarkets and club chains across 45 states. It bills itself as the nation’s largest provider and distributor of prepackaged sushi.
WRESTLEMANIA: Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home entertainment division has entered a partnership to distribute programming from World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. starting next year. The Burbank company will have the rights to distribute new documentaries, match compilations, collectible titles and pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam. The deal has a lot of potential for Warner Bros., WWE titles accounted for all of the top 10 sports DVDs sold in 2013.
BIG LEASE: Columbia Square, once the famed Hollywood headquarters for CBS Corp.’s West Coast radio operations, will become home to Viacom’s MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Spike TV. The move will consolidate Viacom’s West Coast media properties, which are currently scattered throughout Los Angeles County, into most of the six-story Gower Building, the larger of the two being built by developer Kilroy Realty Corp. The 12-year, 180,000-square-foot lease is valued at $420 million and is said to be the largest signed in Hollywood in the last decade.
SUIT & TIE: Pop star Justin Timberlake is putting on his business suit (and tie) to join AfterMaster Audio Labs, a subsidiary of media tech firm Studio One Media Inc., as an owner. The Hollywood company develops technology that promises to deliver fuller and richer sounds to digital audio, and can be used in TVs, headphones, speakers, mobile devices and streaming sites. AfterMaster is preparing to launch software and chips that use its audio technology in the coming months.
BUT NOW I SEE: Shares of Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the latest Alfred Mann company to go public, more than doubled in its initial public offering. The Sylmar company opened trading at $17 after pricing 3.5 million shares at $9 a share. In its first day of trading, shares closed at $19.97, up 122 percent, which valued the company at $723 million. The company makes an implant that stimulates the optic nerve. A small camera mounted on eyeglasses sends a wireless signal to the device, which allows a sight-impaired person to see some images. The system, called Argus II, is approved in the United States for patients with a relatively rare disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and in Europe for several other visual impairments. The company plans to expand approved uses to cover nearly all blind people.
BEIJING: Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures opened its first office in Beijing to handle production and distribution of films and consumer products in the lucrative Chinese market. The office will be headed by Jo Yan, managing director and executive vice president of Universal’s China operations. This is not the company’s only effort to push into China. Last month, the studio announced plans for a $3.3 billion theme park on 300 acres in suburban Beijing that is to open in 2019.
TALK CHEAP: Shares in DreamWorks Animation Inc. fell more than 14 percent on the first trading day after reports that merger talks with Hasbro Inc. had ended. The Glendale animation studio had seen its shares skyrocket on reports that it was in talks to combine with Hasbro, the nation’s second-largest toymaker, in a deal valued at more than $2 billion. This is the second time in recent months that reports of a potential DreamWorks sale fizzled. In September, Japanese communications and Internet company SoftBank Corp. was said to be interested in acquiring the studio in a deal valued at $3.4 billion, but those talks also fell apart. Compounding those woes, the company has seen its share price fall after a series of unfortunate events at the box office.
CHINA CARE: While leading a trade delegation in Asia, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a series of agreements to increase coordination between the city and Asian countries, including a measure to streamline the process of shuttling Chinese patients who need medical care to L.A. hospitals. Participating in the medical outreach are China Southern Airlines, the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Bureau, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, City of Hope, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, UCLA and USC. The partners will work together on the identification, evaluation, diagnosis, transfer, operation and recovery of the Chinese patients.
WHALE MEAT: Brian Vidor, who owned the shuttered Hump restaurant in Santa Monica, pleaded guilty to federal charges related to serving meat from the endangered Sei whale. Typhoon Restaurant Inc., Hump’s parent company, pleaded guilty as well. Typhoon and Vidor will jointly pay a $27,500 fine and will be placed on 18 and 12 month terms of probation, respectively, if the terms of the plea agreements are accepted by the judge. Authorities launched an investigation into the Hump after producers making the documentary “The Cove” secretly filmed whale meat being served at the restaurant.
UNDERWEIGHT: Thanks to the steadily falling price of crude oil, shares of Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s forthcoming California spinoff are trading off-exchange well below analysts’ expectations. Shares of California Resources Corp. opened trading off-exchange Nov. 13 roughly 15 percent below analysts’ projections. This prompted an analyst with Barclays Capital Inc. to downgrade Occidental to “underweight.”
ANYWHERE: Walt Disney Co. is making its cloud-based movie-streaming service available for film titles purchased at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlets or through the retail chain’s Vudu on-demand service. The Burbank entertainment and media giant will allow Vudu accounts to link with Disney Movies Anywhere accounts so viewers can buy and watch 400 live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel on a variety of digital devices. Disney has been pushing Disney Movies Anywhere in the hopes of driving up digital sales as more consumers turn to mobile devices to view movies. The service launched earlier this year on Apple Inc.’s iTunes store and this month on Google Inc.’s Google Play store.
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