Stories for December 2013

Tuesday, December 31

Signature Group to Reincorporate in Delaware

Signature Group Holdings Inc. said its shareholders on Monday approved a proposal to reincorporate in the state of Delaware, part of management’s latest effort to reinvigorate the Sherman Oaks holding company.

Monday, December 30

IHOP Opens in Saudi Arabia

DineEquity Inc. announced on Monday the company has opened its first IHOP restaurant in Saudi Arabia.

Americas United Bank Acquires Lancaster Branch

Americas United Bank announced Monday an agreement to purchase the deposits and branch office of Silvergate Bank in Lancaster.

Region Loses Out on Drones

Southern California was not among the six locations chosen to be a civil aviation drone test site, the Federal Aviation Administration announced on Monday.

Friday, December 27

Ceres Board Members Not Seeking Re-Election

Two of the longest tenured members of the board at energy crop company Ceres Inc. will not seek re-election.

Founder’s Estate to Sell LTC Shares

LTC Properties has filed an announcement that it may sell off $5.8 million in shares belonging to the founder’s estate.

Thursday, December 26

PS Business Parks Buys $60 Million Complex

PS Business Parks Inc. announced this week the purchase of the Bayshore Corporate Center in San Mateo for $60.5 million.

Flight Line Leases Valencia Building

Flight Line Products, a maker of seats for commercial airplanes, has leased 58,000 square feet in a Valencia industrial building.

Antelope Valley Gets Electric Buses

Antelope Valley Transit Authority has purchased two battery-powered buses as part of its clean transportation program, the agency announced Monday.

Gelson's Acquired for $394 Million

Gelson’s Markets parent Arden Group Inc. has announced it will be acquired by investment firm TPG in a deal valued at $394 million.

Briefs: Iger's Pay, Disney Board, DreamWorks Debut

Walt Disney Co. announced Monday its board of directors had selected Jack Dorsey, chairman of Twitter Inc. and chief executive of Square Inc., as a candidate for independent director.

Monday, December 23

Murky Ball

William Roberts runs the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center but a lack of data limits his 2014 forecast.

Q&A: Economist Bill Roberts looks for the story behind the numbers.

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It’s Plan B at Valencia Mall Without Wal-Mart

Retail: Westfield signs smaller stores for space once set for discounter.

Real Estate: Santa Clarita Town Center seeks tenants after Wal-Mart deal fizzles.

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The Right Touch?

Restaurants: Applebee’s would be largest chain yet to put tablets at every table, with a whopping 100,000 installed nationwide.

Restaurants: Applebee’s plans to put 100,000 tablets on the table.

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Unmanned Spy Plane Eyeing A.V.?

The Pentagon’s latest secret drone could be hangared in Palmdale.

Defense: Secret spy drones in Lancaster? The government isn’t saying.

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Breathing Life Into Textbooks

Former actress has booming business narrating dull texts.

Media: Busy students like audio textbooks from Too Little Time in North Hills.

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This Pirch Has View To Be Seen

Glendale Galleria store offers free live cooking demos.

Retail: If you’re not sure about that stove, a chef will try it before you buy it.

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Local Vintner Is a Rare Vintage

David Hunt is legally blind but his nose knows wine.

Wine: Vintner David Hunt sees opportunities despite being legally blind.

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Affordable Units Don’t Add Up in Thousand Oaks

Development: Affordable housing never worked for this Newbury Park plot.

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Chase Workers Avoid Layoffs

Finance: Florida law firm hires 80 in mortgage unit set for cuts.

Finance: A Florida law firm moves into the Valley and hires mortgage workers laid off by Chase.

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Calendar

Calendar of Events

A Christmas Wish: Restrain Yourself

Op-Ed: Sacramento’s budget choices

Bringing More Action to the Zoo

The L.A. Zoo’s support organization defends its plan to spend $2.6 million to improve the attraction’s marketing.

Op-Ed: new money for the zoo.

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Laughing and Crying in the Valley

Editor: New Year’s laments.

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Stockwatch

The stock market finished on a strong note in the two-week period ended Dec. 18, as the Fed announced it would reduce monthly bond buying by only $10 billion a month to $75 billion.

Around the Valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

A subsidiary of Tutor Perini Corp. has won a $510 million contract at the Hudson Yards mixed-use development in New York City.

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Insulin Device Maker Pumps Money Into Charity

Philanthropy: Medtronic turns over $50,000 to help poor diabetic patients.

MEND – Meet Each Need with Dignity, a poverty-relief organization in Pacoima, received a $50,000 Health Access grant this month from Medtronic Philanthropy, a part of Medtronic Inc.

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Ventura County Partners Cut Tape That Binds

Electronics: Qualstar ends manufacturing contract with CTS of Moorpark.

Qualstar Corp. is cutting ties with a Moorpark company it contracted with to provide manufacturing services of its tape storage products.

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Snapped Tight

Images: Favorite photos from the pages of the Business Journal.

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Timeline

A look at some of the Valley’s biggest business stories.

Timeline: Highlights of Valley business news, from booms to bankruptcies.

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Feds Probing Valley Firm

Health Care: IPC accused of bilking Medicare, Medicaid.

Health Care: Is fraud behind growing profit margins at IPC The Hospitalist?

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Best of Times?

Local stocks soar despite tepid recovery

Investment: Valley stocks outperformed the Dow during a record year.

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Apartment Complex Takes Shape on Boulevard

Multifamily: Luxury units to begin leasing in April after lengthy construction.

After multiple development proposals, a foreclosure and years of starts and stops, a massive 340-unit luxury apartment complex in Woodland Hills is approaching completion.

Friday, December 20

Van Nuys Plant Gets Military Contract

Exelis Inc. has received an $8 million contract to supply a radar system to the Estonian military to support missions by NATO.

Technicolor Closes Glendale Plant

Technicolor SA has closed down its Glendale film lab, the last one the entertainment services company was operating in North America.

State Unemployment Rate Falls

L.A. County’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent in November, its lowest point in five years, according to state figures released Friday.

Cal Lutheran Predicts More Slow Growth

The Center for Economic Research and Forecasting and California Lutheran University predicts the state economy will continue to lag in 2014.

Thursday, December 19

Canyon Country Townhomes Fetch $10 Million

A 67-unit townhome building in Canyon Country has sold for nearly $10 million.

Conejo Valley Firms Get Energy Grants

Two Conejo Valley companies received grants totaling more than $180,000 from the California Energy Commission to assist in bringing alternative energy products to market.

Briefs: IPC, Semtech, DineEquity

IPC acquires doctor practices. Semtech lowers guidance. DineEquity hires executive.

Wednesday, December 18

Palmdale Power Plant Gets Air Board Approval

The Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District Board approved on Tuesday the transfer of critical emissions credits for a proposed Palmdale power plant.

Rexford Buys Simi Valley Property

Los Angeles real estate investment firm Rexford Industrial Realty Inc. announced Wednesday it has added to its fast-growing Valley portfolio with a nearly $16 million purchase in Simi Valley.

Perry Confirmed as Business Czar

The L.A. City Council voted unanimously to confirm former city councilwoman Jan Perry as head of the city’s economic development department.

Tuesday, December 17

State Tax Board Plays Santa for Startups

Local startups have just been handed a bit of holiday cheer: the state will no longer require sales tax security deposits for new businesses in most cases and will refund about $300 million in deposits it’s now holding.

Keyes Automotive Switches Dealership

Keyes Automotive Group has shuttered its Woodland Hills Nissan dealership to make way for Hyundai.

Air Board Weighs Palmdale Power Plant

The Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District Board was meeting on Tuesday to discuss and vote on approving the transfer of critical emissions credits for a proposed Palmdale power plant.

Monday, December 16

Herbalife Shares Jump on Audit Results

Shares of Herbalife Ltd. rose Monday after the nutritional supplement company reported positive results of a new audit prompted by an insider trading scandal involving two Valley-area residents.

Cigna to Stay in Glendale

Health care insurer Cigna Corp. has agreed to a six year extension of its lease in Glendale in a deal with an estimated value of $11.5 million.

Company Briefs: Cheesecake Factory, Apollo Medical

Cheesecake Factory opens in Saudi Arabia. Apollo Medical makes management appointment.

Friday, December 13

Crisis Attorney Defends BYD

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. held a press conference on Friday to further defend itself from allegations it did not comply with minimum wage laws for engineers working at its Lancaster plant and North American headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

Proposed Palmdale Power Plant Gets Boost

The staff of the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District has recommended the district’s board approve the transfer of emissions credits to allow a proposed Palmdale power plant to move forward.

Adult Film Moratorium Lifted

A moratorium on adult film production was lifted Friday after tests were completed on partners of an adult performer who tested positive for HIV.

Thursday, December 12

PizzaRev Opens Burbank Outlet in Expansion Drive

PizzaRev, the San Fernando Valley fast-casual pizza chain, opened a sixth location Thursday as part of a major expansion planned for the next 12 months.

Foreclosure Rates Continue Decline

Home foreclosures continued to drop in Southern California in November, with rates in the greater Valley varying widely, according to a report released Thursday.

Tutor Perini Wins $510 Million Contract

Tutor Perini Corp. announced Thursday a subsidiary has won a $510 million contract at the Hudson Yards mixed use development in downtown New York City.

Corporate Briefs: Cherokee, Interlink

Cherokee Inc. suffers earnings miss. Interlink Electronics Inc. makes management changes.

Wednesday, December 11

American Homes Announces Secondary Offering

American Homes 4 Rent announced on Wednesday a $100 million secondary offering of preferred shares.

Salem Acquires Twitchy from Michelle Malkin

Salem Communications Inc. has acquired the Twitter compilation site Twitchy.com from politically conservative author and columnist Michelle Malkin.

Adult Filming Moratorium Continues

A moratorium on adult film production remained in effect on Wednesday as industry professionals awaited testing results related to an adult performer who tested positive for HIV.

Tuesday, December 10

Expansion Eyed for Disney Shanghai

Walt Disney Co.’s new Shanghai resort is not scheduled to open until 2015 but already there is talk of expanding it, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Local Employers Ramp Up Hiring

One in five Los Angeles area employers plan to hire more workers during the first quarter, the best showing in several years, according to a survey released Tuesday by Manpower Inc.

Monday, December 9

ValueClick Sells Web Sites

ValueClick Inc. announced late Monday that it has agreed to sell all of its websites to IAC/Interactive Corp., the New York digital media company run by Barry Diller.

Justice Department Alleges IPC Billing Fraud

The Justice Department is taking over a private whistleblower lawsuit against IPC The Hospitalist Co. Inc., alleging the company overbilled the government’s Medicaid and Medicare programs, the department announced Monday.

AllThingsD Editors Sign NBCUniversal Deal

NBCUniversal received a boost for its technology coverage on Monday with the announcement that the media company signed a deal for a news website with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, according to a media report.

Superior Industries Raises Dividend

Aluminum wheel manufacturer Superior Industries International Inc. announced Monday it would pay out a quarterly dividend of 18 cents a share.

Doctor’s Orders

Valley hospitals are merging and forming alliances as they prepare for game-changing federal health care reform.

Hospitals: Health reform is spurring a spate of consolidation deals. Includes SFVBJ's 2013 VALLEY'S LARGEST HOSPITALS list for download (pdf)

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Valley Businesses Scoring in Marketing Contest

eCommerce: Seven firms have chance for $250,000 and trip to Google offices.

Seven companies in Northridge and Chatsworth are among the finalists in a national grant competition run by the banking division of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

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CEO in Charge

Kim Milstein got her start as a volunteer at Simi Valley Hospital. Today, she is leading it through the health care revolution.

Q&A: Kim Milstein went from hospital volunteer to CEO.

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Kaiser Permanente Manages Its Own Expansion

Profile: Instead of growth by acquisition, Kaiser prefers construction.

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On Assignment Staffs Up, Sheds Subsidiary

Personnel: Calabasas jobs firm shuffles businesses in flurry of activity.

Personnel: Two acquisitions haven’t helped On Assignment’s relationship with investors.

Checking In, Plugging Out

Hospitality: Hilton Universal City’s $7 million efficiency upgrade sets national standard.

Hospitality: County energy program enables loan to Universal City Hilton.

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Who Needs a Pacifier With This Stroller

Northridge mall tries tablet-equipped carts for children.

Retail: Will tablet toys bring families to Northridge Fashion Center?

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Cabin Fever? Take a Seat On the CJ318

Northridge mall tries tablet-equipped carts for children.

Aviation: The first corporate Airbus CJ318 will fly from Van Nuys.

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Miley Can Wag, but Can She Shill?

Woodland Hills firm creates index that sizes up celebrity pull.

Media: InterMedia’s DR Star Index ranks celebrities by endorsement value.

She’s Flashy, But Can Do The Two-Step

Flash-mob organizer opens Simi Valley dance studio in mall.

Fitness: Simi Valley entrepreneur moves from flash mobs to dance studio.

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Legal Drama Gives Way to Lalaloopsy

Toys: MGA launches new line of dolls after surviving yearslong Mattel battle.

Toys: After settling the Mattel lawsuit, MGA Entertainment puts new toys on the shelf.

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A.V. Gas Plant Losing Steam?

Energy: Palmdale’s proposal opposed by neighboring city.

Energy: Palmdale wants a gas-solar power plant – but Lancaster doesn’t.

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Sale Brewing For Distributor

Beverages: National company acquiring Allied of Sylmar.

Beverages: Shrinking beer market leads to Allied Beverages sale.

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Giant Steps

Little Giraffe selling luxury baby goods in China.

Marketing: Little Giraffe gives new options to Chinese parents eager to pamper their children.

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Can Los Angeles Bank on Its River?

Op-Eds: The pros and cons of the planned L.A. River restoration.

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Making the Valley’s Case

Guest: Valley Economic Alliance needs to focus on its mission.

Stockwatch

Market Watch Summary

The stock market showed mixed results in the two-week period ended Dec. 4 that included heavy retail shopping following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Calendar

Calendar of Events

Around the Valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

President Barack Obama visited the campus of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. in Glendale to get a look at how the studio makes its feature films.

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Urban Living

Focus: Alta Warner Center

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Easton-Bell Founders Hit Home Run With Deal

Transaction: Family sells Van Nuys headquarters for $12.4 million.

The founding family of Easton-Bell Sports Inc. is further distancing itself from the struggling sporting goods manufacturer.

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Buttoned-Down Bankers Hitting Valley Streets

Lending: 1st Enterprise ramps up Woodland Hills office opened in spring.

A low-profile business bank is raising awareness by putting more bankers on the street.

Friday, December 6

Former Vitesse Executives Get Probation, Company Earnings Fall

The former chief executive and financial officer of Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. were sentenced Friday to three years on probation for trying to destroy evidence in an options backdating fraud.

Briefs: Ixia, On Assignment

Ixia announced that it has completed its planned acquisition of Net Optics Inc., a network monitoring software company in Santa Clara.

Thursday, December 5

Briefs: Qualstar, Disney, Simulations Plus

Qualstar Corp. has named Louann Negrete as chief financial officer, the company announced Wednesday.

ATK to Begin Consolidation

The defense electronics system division of Alliant Techsystems Inc. will begin relocating from Woodland Hills to Northridge at the end of the month.

Wednesday, December 4

Disney Finds Chinese Digital Partner

Walt Disney Co. has formed a joint venture with Chinese new media firm BesTV that could help the Burbank entertainment giant increase its digital distribution in China.

Media Center Building Fetches $13.5 Million

A 64,820-square-foot building in the LA Media Tech Center campus has sold for $13.5 million.

Blaze Pizza to Open in Glendale

Blaze Pizza LLC announced Wednesday it will open a new Glendale location of the fast-casual pizza chain during the first quarter of 2014.

Briefs: Digital Insights, Capstone, NTS, Public Storage

Online banking software developer Digital Insight was sold Monday by a private equity firm in a deal valued at $1.65 billion.

Tuesday, December 3

AppleBee's Tries Tablet Strategy

DineEquity Inc. announced Tuesday a plan to put 100,000 tablets in its Applebee’s restaurants across the country in 2014.

Burbank Airport Shrinks Building Plan

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority decided on Monday to scale back the commercial development of land it owns adjacent to the Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

Signature Expands at Van Nuys Airport

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners on Monday approved the transfer of leases at Van Nuys Airport from Maguire Aviation to Signature Flight Support.

Monday, December 2

On Assignment Sells Unit, Buys Two Businesses

On Assignment Inc. on Monday said that it has completed the sale of one of its divisions and made two acquisitions that beef up its other businesses

Van Nuys Strip Mall Fetches $5 Million

A 13,337-square-foot Van Nuys strip mall has sold for $4.9 million.