Council OKs Wage Hike

It’s almost officially official: The Los Angeles City Council has given final approval to a minimum wage hike in the city, sending the measure to the mayor’s desk.

Council members voted 12-1 Wednesday to raise the city’s minimum wage from the current statewide minimum of $9 an hour to $15 an hour over the next five years. It was the second and final approval needed from the council. As with the council’s first vote on the matter last week, Councilman Mitch Englander was the lone dissenting vote.

The first increase, to $10.50 an hour, is scheduled for July 1, 2016. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and some nonprofits will receive an extra year with the first hike coming in 2017.

Now the wage hike goes to Mayor Eric Garcetti for approval. He is expected to sign off on the measure, a version of which he first unveiled in September.

Sundance Cinema Seeks Buyer

Upscale theater chain Sundance Cinemas, founded by movie legend Robert Redford eight years ago, is putting itself up for sale.

Chief Executive Paul Richardson announced Wednesday that the Westlake Village chain has retained West Los Angeles investment bank Salem Partners to help find a buyer. Sundance is currently majority owned by a fund affiliated with downtown Los Angeles private equity giant Oaktree Capital Management, which is in the divestment period of its business cycle. The theater chain has had five consecutive years of revenue and cash flow growth, according to a Sundance statement.

“From the very beginning, Sundance Cinemas has been about raising the bar in the exhibition business,” Richardson said in a press release announcing the move. “We look forward to working with Salem Partners to identify the right owner or owners of the business who can continue to capitalize on our prominent positions in each market.”

Sundance currently operates five cinemas, with one each in West Hollywood, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, and Madison, Wis.

Arrowhead Drug Gets ‘Orphan’ Incentives

Arrowhead Research Corp. announced Wednesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted its liver disease treatment candidate ARC-AAT orphan drug status.

The Pasadena pharmaceutical company’s shares rose 2.19 percent to $6.54 Wednesday on the news.

Drugs designated as orphans because they treat rare diseases – and therefore lack a broad consumer market – get special incentives, including increased engagement with FDA on drug development activities, exemption from all future product-specific regulatory fees, the opportunity to apply for R&D funding, tax credits, an increased chance of priority review, and seven years of orphan exclusivity at the time of the new drug application approval.

“Receiving orphan drug designation is an important milestone in the development of ARC-AAT,” said Bruce Given, Arrowhead's chief operating officer.

Arrowhead shares have been on a roller coaster this year. The stock price got a boost earlier in January on speculation that the company was a takeover target for Foster City’s Gilead Sciences Inc. Shares rose as high as $9.06, only to be sent spiraling down a week later to $6.90 when the Food and Drug Administration asked Arrowhead to proceed with a test of a lower dose of its lead drug candidate, hepatitis B therapy ARC-520, in a new study.

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