Review & Preview
Fresh Finance: Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, the Thousand Oaks-based restaurant chain, has a deal to be acquired by Wendy’s International Inc. for $275 million. The deal, which is expected to close this month, will make the 169-restaurant chain a subsidiary of the nation’s third-largest hamburger chain. Expect a rollout of the concept to as many as 700 restaurants in the next five years.
Ticket to Buy: After being pounded by Wall Street, USA Interactive Inc. decided to hold off on a $4.5 billion plan to purchase stakes in Expedia Inc., Hotels.com and L.A.-based Ticketmaster that it doesn’t already own. USA Chief Executive Barry Diller said the proposal will still happen at some point, but USA shares are trading at levels that would make the deal unattractive. USA already controls 95.8 million shares, 92 percent of the voting power, of Ticketmaster.
Mideast Meets West: In a bid to expand its business in the Middle East, Occidental Petroleum Corp. acquired a 24.5 percent stake in Dolphin Energy Ltd., a United Arab Emirates-based company, for $310 million. The stake was previously held by Enron Corp., which sold it to the United Arab Emirates government last year.
Ad Market Revives: NBC sold a record $2.7 billion worth of advertising for the upcoming television season that begins in September. That’s more than four-fifths of its overall inventory and at rates 7 to 9 percent higher than a year ago. Two other networks, ABC and Fox, have managed to increase rates this year amid an overall pickup in ad sales.
Sonic Rule: A federal judge overturned an order requiring Santa Clara-based Sonicblue Inc., maker of the ReplayTV digital video recorder, to gather data about TV viewing habits. In April, a federal magistrate judge had ordered Sonicblue to track how its devices were being used, a response to concerns by the networks that the ReplayTV devices enabled viewers to copy programs and send them on the Internet. In last week’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that plaintiffs couldn’t compel defendants to turn over information that they’re not collecting. But Cooper based her ruling on procedural grounds, not privacy issues.
Poor Numbers: New Census data shows that the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County area has the nation’s highest percentage of residents with less than a ninth grade education and the highest percentage of poor families. The survey also showed that the Los Angeles area tied with Miami as having the highest percentage of Latinos (40.3 percent) and the second-highest percentage of Asian Americans (10.4 percent). And, that average rush hour commutes in New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco were actually longer than in L.A.
Map Redrawn: The L.A. City Council approved new boundaries for the seven seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education. The redrawn map, supported by school board President Caprice Young, will create three Latino majority districts and two districts entirely in the San Fernando Valley.
Fed Inquiry: Franchise Pictures, the independent film producer headed by nightclub owner Elie Samaha, is the subject of a federal criminal inquiry involving allegations of fraud, according to several media reports. Samaha has been engaged in a legal battle with Germany’s Intertainment AG, which had a deal to finance half of Franchise’s production budget. In late 2000, Intertainment filed suit alleging Franchise made up inflated budgets for the films believed to be the focal point of an FBI investigation.
Library Meet: The annual conference of the Special Libraries Association continues at the L.A. Convention Center through Thursday (13th). Peter Drucker will address the opening general session on Monday (10th) at 9 a.m. The SLA represents the interests of thousands of information professionals in 60 countries.
Sports Beat: Another week of mega-sports events, including the World Cup in Korea and Japan, the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Bethpage, N.Y. and, as if we needed reminding, the NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Nets. Oh, there’s also the weekend freeway series (14th, 15th, 16th) between the Dodgers and the Angels.
Meeting Schedule: A joint meeting of City Council’s Environmental Quality and Waste Management and Public Works committees on Monday (10th) in room 1010 of City Hall will consider new solid waste hauling fees. On Tuesday (11th), the Arts, Health and Humanities Committee will consider Mayor James Hahn’s appointment of Johnny Grant to the Cultural Heritage Commission for a four-year term. The County Board of Supervisors holds its regular weekly meeting Tuesday (11th) at 9:30 a.m. at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., downtown.
Data Due: May’s economic indicators start to pour in this week. Among information set for release is the updated Producer Price Index, a measure of the change in wholesale prices, which is set to be released Thursday (13th) and is projected to show an increase of .2 percent. Retail sales numbers, also due Thursday, are expected to increase by only .2 percent after posting an increase of 1.2 percent in April. Also due next week are state and county unemployment numbers for May.
Hot Wheels: The Petersen Automotive Museum will host its annual “Cars and Stars” gala, a charity event to raise money for childrens’ and educational programs. The event is on Thursday (13th) from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $200. Information: (323) 964-6356
Borough Talk: As the prospect of secession looms over L.A., the alternative of creating a borough system like New York’s has gained momentum, with two borough proposals surfacing in recent weeks. L.A. residents will have a chance Monday (10th) to learn more about the borough proposals at a special forum of the L.A. City Council’s Education and Neighborhoods Committee at 6:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Municipal Building, 6501 Fountain Ave. in Hollywood.