Stories for June 2013

Friday, June 28

UPDATE: Westfield Tax Break Moves Forward

The Los Angeles City Council voted to move forward with a $59 million tax break for Australian developer Westfield Group LLC Friday, billed as a way for the firm to speed up construction of its Village at Westfield Topanga project.

Disney Sells Book Publisher

Hachette Book Group on Friday announced that is has agreed to buy part of Walt Disney Co.’s book business, which has published bestsellers by Mitch Albom, Jamie Oliver and Michael J. Fox.

Thursday, June 27

Hallmark Cards Weighs Options for Crown Media

Shares in Crown Media Holdings closed down after experiencing a spike following the announcement that its largest shareholder, the founding family of Hallmark Cards, was weighing taking the company private.

Metro Orders Electric Buses From Lancaster Plant

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD will make buses at its Lancaster facility for use by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Westfield Tax-Break Vote Reset for Friday

The Los Angeles City Council postponed until Friday a vote on a tax break for Westfield Group that could save the mall developer up to $59 million over 25 years.

Wednesday, June 26

Joint Venture Acquires Burbank Office Building

A joint venture led by L.A. real estate investment trust Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. has completed its acquisition of the Pinnacle office complex in Burbank’s Media District, the company said Wednesday.

SEC Accuses CEO of Fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a Burbank medical imaging device company and its chief executive with civil fraud on Wednesday.

Third Walmart Opening in Simi Valley

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has confirmed Wednesday that it will open a third location in Simi Valley.

IPC Buys Connecticut Doctors Group

IPC The Hospitalist Co. Inc. has acquired Sound Senior Geriatrics LLC, a post-acute hospitalist practice in Connecticut where the company already has operations.

Tuesday, June 25

AeroVironment Reports Quarterly Loss

AeroVironment Inc. moved from a profit to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter as the maker of unmanned drone aircraft and electric-car charging stations recorded fewer sales and incurred higher R&D costs.

Vitesse Offering Raises $40.2 Million

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. raised $40.2 million in a public offering of its common stock after strong demand prompted underwriters to sell additional shares, the company announced on Tuesday.

Valley Home Prices Soar on Low Inventory

San Fernando Valley home prices surged 39 percent in May, driven by lack of homes for sale in the area. The median hit $520,000, the highest since February 2008.

Council to Consider Westfield Tax Breaks

The Los Angeles City Council will consider a tax break for Westfield Group LLC at its Wednesday meeting that could save the mall developer up to $59 million over 25 years.

Dole Committee to Review Murdock Offer

Two weeks after its 90-year-old chief executive offered to take the company private again, Dole Food Co. has designated a special board committee to review the proposal.

Monday, June 24

Trio Take Reins at Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Entertainment has promoted three long-time executives in a move to bring new leadership to its motion picture division.

Shares of Ceres Drop Sharply

Shares of Thousand Oaks firm Ceres Inc. fell sharply Monday, losing 17.8 percent of their value.

TAKE TWO - Editorial Cartoon SFVBJ - June 24, 2013

TAKE TWO - This week's Editorial Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Burbank Set to Step Into Spotlight

Tourism campaign to tout ‘town behind the tinsel.’

TOURISM: Ad campaign touts Burbank as “the town behind the tinsel.”

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Driving Up Restaurant’s Curb Appeal

Señor Grandes gets around traffic snarls with sidewalk service.

RESTAURANTS: A lack of parking doesn’t stop Señor Grandes.

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Choppers Create Unwanted Buzz

Aviation: Valley helicopter operators reject calls for strict noise controls.

AVIATION: FAA report sparks a high-decibel debate on helicopter noise.

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Solar Activity Rises at Firm

Energy: Burbank outfit raising capital for molten-salt technology?

ENERGY: Are investors pumping $12.8 million into Esolar’s plan for a molten salt plant in Lancaster?

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Tutor Schools Critics

Chief of Tutor Perini Corp. defends company’s winning bid on high-speed rail line.

CONSTRUCTION: Ron Tutor tells why his company deserves to build the state’s high-speed rail project.

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New Law Eases Regulatory Pressure Decade Later

FINANCE: New rules help small companies go public.

VALLEY BIZ SEEN - June 24, 2013

Photographs of recent business-related events in the valleys, including parties, awards dinners, benefits and other celebrations.

stockwatch

Market Watch Summary

Despite uncertainty among investors about continuing support from the Fed, stocks moved ahead during the two-week period ended June 19.

Calendar

Calendar of Events

Around the Valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

GenCorp. Inc. shuffled management following its $550 million acquisition this month of rocket engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park from United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Conn.

Tenants Burrowing Into Vacant Mouse House

Leasing: Firms take space in North Hollywood building Disney departed.

A North Hollywood office building that has sat largely empty since Walt Disney Co.’s Interactive division moved out in November has gotten a boost with some new leases.

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Who’s the Next Big Squeeze After SpongeBob?

Animation: Nickelodeon holds digital shorts contest to find its next big hit.

In the second year of its Animated Shorts Program, children’s network Nickelodeon received more than 900 pitches from veteran animators, digital artists, comedians, illustrators, cartoonists and other creative types.

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Attorneys Say There is No Appeal to Budget Cuts

Courts: Personnel losses expected to hurt some, help other business litigants.

“Terrible” is how David Gurnick describes the budget cuts implemented at Los Angeles Superior Court on June 14 that resulted in 177 layoffs.

Sports Club Stronger After Exiting Chapter 11?

TURNAROUND: Gym chain Bodies in Motion works on its rehab from bankruptcy.

Animators the Draw at City’s New Gallery

RETAIL: Art gallery features animators’ work that never appeared on screen.

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Studio City Has Secrets To Share

Joann Deutch’s book offers localized look at show biz history.

PUBLISHING: Joann Deutch wrote a book about weird stuff in Studio City.

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Something Fishy at the Beach

EDITOR: Benefits of a plastic bag ban.

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Dealership Steps on Gas for Fiesta Bowl Parade

Event: Buick-GMC holds fundraiser for band at Notre Dame High School.

The Buick/GMC dealership in Sherman Oaks raised $2,500 last month to assist a local high-school marching band.

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Analyze This

CPA Jason Lawson likens today’s public auditing to detective work on steroids.

Q&A: A two-year stint with the SEC boosted the career of Jason Lawson.

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Female Executives Playing Catch Up

Management: Pay gap also a problem at local non-profits.

MANAGEMENT: Why top women executives earn less than men in the Valley’s non-profit sector. Includes SFVBJ's 2013 VALLEY'S NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS list for download (pdf)

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Sweating the Maze

A decade after passage, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act continues to bedevil local accountants.

Regulations: Sarbanes-Oxley has changed the modus operandi of local audit firms.

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Heavy Weight

Fitness: Former Gold’s Gym CEO leading local gym-and-spa chain as it takes on Curves.

FITNESS: Total Woman Gym & Day Spa makes big push to grow by franchising.

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Friday, June 21

Valley Cities Report Little Change in Unemployment

Most large cities in the greater San Fernando Valley reported incremental decreases or no change in their unemployment rates during May.

National Technical Builds Safety Lab in Texas

Engineering and test services firm National Technical Systems Inc. is building a new safety lab to meet international standards for clients exporting goods abroad.

NetSol Inks $10 Million Deal

Software firm NetSol Technologies Inc. has signed a $10 million deal with an international auto finance organization, the company announced.

Thursday, June 20

Disney Moves Ahead With Santa Clarita Studio

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission gave its approval for Walt Disney Co. to build a movie production studio in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Tutor Perini Wins Subway Contract

Tutor Perini Corp. announced Thursday it had won a contract for work on the San Francisco Central Subway Project.

Wednesday, June 19

Vitesse Raising $30 million in Offering

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. will sell $30 million worth of its common stock in an underwritten public offering.

PennyMac Expanding With Sacramento Office

Moorpark firm PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust is expanding with a new Sacramento office.

Valley Pizza Chain to Open Burbank Location

PizzaRev, a small fast-growing San Fernando Valley restaurant chain that offers quick made-to-order pizzas, will open later this year in Burbank.

Tuesday, June 18

L.A. Council Adopts Plastic Bag Ban

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a ban on plastic bags at grocery stores in the Valley and citywide.

LTC Properties Completes Texas Building

Real estate investment trust LTC Properties Inc. has finished work on a 120-bed skilled nursing property in Texas, the company said Tuesday.

GrowLife Ups Annual Guidance

GrowLife Inc., a supplier of lights and other marijuana-growing supplies, announced on Tuesday higher revenue guidance for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Monday, June 17

DreamWorks Reaches Content Deal with Netflix

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. will bring its feature film characters to the small screen in a deal to produce original content for streaming through Netfilix Inc., the companies announced on Monday.

MannKind Completes Afrezza Trials

MannKind Corp. has completed the second of two additional trials requested by the Food and Drug Administration for its inhaled insulin pipeline product, the company said Monday.

Cherokee Hits Racks in Middle East

Cherokee Inc. apparel is now being sold in the Middle East as the Van Nuys company continues with its international expansion.

Senior Housing Project Opens in Reseda

A 98-unit affordable senior housing development partially funded by the city opened on Monday in Reseda.

Housing Recovery Accelerates in L.A. Market

The California Association of Realtors on Monday said last month’s median price of an existing home in Los Angeles County jumped nearly 30 percent from last year, with the inventory of unsold homes at its lowest level in eight years.

Friday, June 14

Rocketdyne Sale Finalized

GenCorp completed its acquisition on Friday of storied San Fernando Valley rocket-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Revenue and Losses Grow at Apollo

Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. reported on Friday that it saw higher revenue and bigger losses in its fiscal first quarter as a new business unit ramps up.

Wesco Extends Supply Contract

Aerospace industry supply chain manager Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc. has extended its contract to provide services to PCC Aerostructures.

Thursday, June 13

Capstone Posts Loss Despite Record Backlog

Capstone Turbine Corp. reported a small net loss in its fiscal fourth quarter on Thursday despite a record backlog and several high-profile new orders.

Cherokee Beats Estimate on Asia Sales

Apparel brand-licensing company Cherokee Inc. narrowly beat an analyst profit estimate for its fiscal first quarter on Thursday as the company reported strong sales in Asia.

Charter Service Takes Off at Burbank Airport

Surf Air, a private subscription private charter service, began flights this week from Burbank's Bob Hope Airport.

FDA Expands Approval for Amgen Bone Cancer Drug

The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the use of Amgen Inc.’s Xgeva to treat a rare bone cancer, the agency announced Thursday.

Wednesday, June 12

Ceres Shares Soar on Analyst's Note

Shares of Ceres Inc. rose 77 percent on Wednesday as the agricultural biotech’s beaten-down stock benefited from an analyst who previewed good news expected in the next several weeks.

Amgen Expands Licensing Deal for $25 Million

Amgen Inc. announced on Wednesday that it is spending $25 million to expand a licensing agreement with Cytokinetics Inc. to cover the Japanese market.

CSC Sells Off Antelope Valley Business Unit

Computer Sciences Corp. has sold off its applied technology division, which has locations in Palmdale and Edwards Air Force Base in the Antelope Valley.

Tuesday, June 11

Murdock Offers to Take Dole Private Again

David Murdock, the chairman, chief executive and largest shareholder of Dole Food Co., has offered to take the Westlake Village company private again in a deal that values the produce supplier at $1.5 billion, including debt.

Leaner National Technical Beats Estimates

National Technical Systems Inc. beat analyst estimates on earning per share for the first quarter as the company benefited from earlier announced layoffs.

Monday, June 10

FTC Not Challenging Rocketdyne Acquisition

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday that it has closed its investigation into the acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne by GenCorp, paving the way for the $550 million purchase of the longtime San Fernando Valley rocket-engine manufacturer.

GrowLife Completes Colorado Acquisitions

GrowLife Inc., a supplier of lights and other marijuana-growing supplies, completed on Monday its acquisition of three Colorado businesses.

Studio City Health Exchange Receives Investment

Studio City health exchange SeeChange Health LLC announced on Monday an investment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

VALLEY BIZ SEEN - June 10, 2013

Photographs of recent business-related events in the valleys, including parties, awards dinners, benefits and other celebrations.

Editorial Cartoon SFVBJ - June 10, 2013

TAKE TWO - This week's Editorial Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Around the Valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

A 20-unit apartment building on Moorpark Street in Sherman Oaks has sold for $4.5 million.

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Grounding Airport Curfews

In 1990, members of the then-Democratic Congress drafted a law to control the noise of commercial, business and recreational aircraft departing airports across America.

Sig Alert on Congestion Fee

Business group says planned fee on new construction to improve traffic is a bad idea that should be halted.

Year in and year out, the Los Angeles region takes home the prestigious title of being the No. 1 most congested area in the country.

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State’s low ranking in annual policy survey is a partisan attack

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently released its sixth annual “Rich States, Poor States” ranking of business policies in the 50 states.

L.A. County crippled by unfriendly attitude toward business

BizFed’s annual survey of over 100 leading business groups representing more than 250,000 businesses throughout L.A. County should be a wakeup call for Southern California leaders:

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A 20th Century Miseducation

EDITOR: Standardized testing doesn’t hurt tomorrow’s business leaders.

Stockwatch

Market Watch Summary

Stocks were down across the board for the two-week period ended June 5.

Calendar

Calendar of Events

Downtown Glendale Block Put on the Block

Commercial: CitiGroup selling 3.2-acre property for possible mixed-use

An entire city block is on the market in Glendale, and it may just be the future site of another mixed-use apartment complex.

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Can Juicy Couture Get Going with Active Wear?

Apparel: Struggling Arleta brand to release new lines amid sale speculation.

The days of the velour track suit are long gone, but Juicy Couture, the brand that broke the bank with the late ‘90s trend, hasn’t really recovered.

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Telemedicine Gets Good Reception at Hospitals

Technology: Stroke initative led by Burbank’s St. Joseph and four other facilities.

The first “telestroke” network in Southern California will open in the San Fernando Valley and feature robots that will help doctors examine and diagnose patients.

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Shifting Focus

Entrepreneur Robin Richards has started multiple businesses in his long career and he’s at it again with a group of jobs sites.

Q&A: With his newest company, Robin Richards wants to find everyone a job.

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Clothing Store Takes Space – With Alterations

Retail: Marshalls leases Brand Boulevard building long vacated by Borders.

RETAIL: Discount clothing seller Marshalls will take former Borders location in Glendale.

Well Done... Raring to Go

Restaurants: Eden Burger Bar is tucked away but its founder has a big appetite for success.

FOOD: Glendale’s Eden Burger Bar thinks about expansion over the hill.

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Computer Mouse Likes Rough Stuff

Interlink’s Durapoint clicks with harsh working environments.

EQUIPMENT: Interlink’s new computer mouse can take any abuse you throw its way.

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Film Veteran Wrapped Up In Ear Buds

Gary Martinez turns to Kickstarter for his tangle-free device.

INTERNET: Veteran Hollywood mechanical engineer Gary Martinez funds ear bud venture with Kickstarter.

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Yogurt Chain Sprinkles App Into Mix

Game from Menchie’s lets players set up and run virtual store.

TECH: Frozen yogurt company Menchies rolls out a new app it thinks will keep customers smiling.

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Energy Drink Firm Seeks Kick From Listing on Markets

BEVERAGEs: Chatsworth firm’s odorless, colorless liquid makes anything into an energy drink.

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Insurer Bets on Warner Center

Real Estate: Farmers Insurance move from Mid-Wilshire a boost.

REAL ESTATE: Farmers Insurance Group’s move to Warner Center has brokers. optimistic about the sluggish office market.

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Drag Race

Rival Lamborghini dealers open on Ventura Boulevard

Exotics: Lamborghini dealerships compete along Ventura Boulevard.

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Training Program Lifts Off in Desert

Aviation: Flight Research piloted by new ownership in Mojave.

AVIATION: Mojave flight school takes off with new ownership.

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Billboard Firm Wants the Lights On

Advertising: Clear Channel seeks legislative solution after legal setback.

ADVERTISING: Clear Channel isn’t giving up the fight for digital billboards. But is it lights out for the advertiser?

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Selling Tony Area On Swap Meet

Developer looks to get Newbury Park to buy into discount retail.

RETAIL: A proposed swap meet is a hard sell in tony Thousand Oaks.

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Encino Internet Research Firm Going Mobile

Marketing: uSamp unveils app that allows users to interact with advertisers.

Headed to the grocery store?

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Friday, June 7

Apollo Starts Equity-Based Doctors Network

Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. has established a new L.A. County physicians network as the Glendale medical management company readies for the start of Obamacare.

Camarillo Biofuels Company Raises $30 million

Biofuels startup Cool Planet Energy Systems Inc. has raised almost $30 million to build its first production facility.

Valley Economic Alliance Names New Chief

Gregory S. Krikorian has been named to head the Valley Economic Alliance, a business assistance organization based in Sherman Oaks.

Thursday, June 6

Rail Authority Approves Tutor Contract

The California High Speed Rail Authority board unanimously approved on Thursday a $985 million bid to build the first stage of the rail line by a joint venture that includes Sylmar construction firm Tutor Perini Corp.

Meridian Sports Clubs Exits Chapter 11

Meridian Sports Clubs California LLC, which operates fitness clubs in three states, has exited Chapter 11 reorganization. An affiliate of Praesidian Capital in New York is the new owner.

Management Changes at Interlink

Interlink Electronics has made changes to its executive ranks as the company enters the next phase of growing its business.

Marketing Company Expands Into Austria

Online advertising company ReachLocal Inc. announced on Thursday the opening of an office in Vienna.

Wednesday, June 5

Upheaval at Signature Holdings

Signature Group Holdings Inc. on Wednesday announced another leadership change as the Sherman Oaks finance company settled a proxy battle with an investor group.

Westlake Village Firm Signs Natural Gas Supply Contract

Applied Natural Gas Fuels Inc. signed a long-term agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority to supply liquefied natural gas to the authority’s bus fleet.

Mastro’s Steakhouse Sold

High-end steakhouse Mastro’s Restaurants LLC has been sold to Landry’s Inc. of Houston.

Tuesday, June 4

Farmers Insurance Moving Headquarters to Valley

Farmers Insurance Group is moving its headquarters to the San Fernando Valley, the company said Tuesday.

American Homes Sets $1.25 Billion IPO

American Homes 4 Rent is looking to raise up to $1.25 billion with its initial public offering, according to regulatory filings – the potentially largest debut among a growing number of home-rental firms.

Ryland Gears Up for Expansion

Homebuilder Ryland Group Inc. has added a chief operating officer to its roster of executives as part of an organizational change geared toward expansion plans, the company said Tuesday.

Tutor Perini, MGM Argue in Nevada Supreme Court

Attorneys representing Sylmar construction firm Tutor Perini Corp. were in Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday arguing that an unopened Las Vegas hotel it built for MGM Resorts International should remain standing.

Chatsworth Firm Reaches Rite Aid Deal

Provision Interactive Technologies Inc. will install 3-D kiosks in Rite Aid stores in Los Angeles as part of a deal with the drug store chain.

Monday, June 3

Shares of MannKind Rise on Trial News

Shares of Mannkind Corp. rose sharply Monday after the biopharmaceutical company announced late last week that it had completed additional trials of its primary pipeline product, inhaled insulin drug Afrezza.

First California Branches to Close Following Completed Acquisition

Seven branches of First California Bank will close this month following the completion of that bank’s acquisition by PacWest Bancorp.

Simulations Plus Predicts Record Quarter

Lancaster software development company Simulations Plus Inc. released preliminary earnings for its fiscal third quarter Monday, and the company said it is predicting record revenue.

F-22 Maintenance Moving From Palmdale

The U.S. Air Force is consolidating the maintenance of the F-22 Raptor jet fighter resulting in a loss of work at the Lockheed Martin Corp. facility in Palmdale.