Stories for December 2014

Wednesday, December 31

Valley Studios Gross Tops $4 Billion

San Fernando Valley movie studios grossed more than $4.2 billion at the domestic box office in 2014, or 41 percent of Hollywood’s market share.

Valley Home Sales Slow as Prices Rise

The median price of a San Fernando Valley home rose nearly 12 percent in November, slowing sales significantly, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

Tuesday, December 30

State Health Department Issues Adult Filming Warning

The California Department of Public Health has recommended that production companies require on-set condom usage after a performer tested positive for HIV and infected at least one other performer at a Nevada film shoot.

Tutor Perini Wins $141 Million in Contracts

Five Star Electric, a Tutor Perini Corp. specialty electrical and mechanical contractor, has received three contracts in New York valued at $141 million, the company announced on Tuesday.

Monday, December 29

Warner Bros. Foreign Box Office Tops $3 Billion

Warner Bros. exceeded $3 billion in international box office for the second consecutive year in 2014 as the Burbank studio benefited from large tent-pole films that drew foreign audiences.

LAX to Set Passenger Traffic Record

Los Angeles International Airport is on pace to set a new record this year for passenger traffic, according to figures released by Los Angeles World Airports.

Wednesday, December 24

Disney, DirecTV to Offer New Services

Walt Disney Co. and DirecTV have renewed an agreement on distributing ABC, Disney and ESPN content live and through video-on-demand on television and mobile devices.

CW Announces Affiliate Deal

CW Network has reached an affiliation agreement with broadcaster Media General Inc. that covers 16 markets in the U.S.

Briefs: Home Sales, Signature, Ixia

Home sales slow in the Valley, Signature prices its debt offering and Ixia replaces a corporate officer.

Tuesday, December 23

Kate Mantilini Closes

The Woodland Hills location of the upscale Kate Mantilini restaurant is scheduled to close Tuesday, according to media reports.

Superior Taps New Capital

Superior Industries International Inc. closed a $100 million credit line on Tuesday for growth and working capital.

Haggen Acquires Albertson's, Vons Stores

Haggen Food & Pharmacy grocery chain is buying more than 83 Albertson’s, Pavilions and Vons stores in California, 28 of which are located in Los Angeles County.

Monday, December 22

Amgen Sponsors Biotech Incubator

Amgen Inc. announced an agreement Monday to become a sponsor of LabCentral, a biotech incubator in Cambridge, Mass.

Briefs: LTC, Signature

LTC sells 16 properties, while Signature closes a secondary stock offering.

Friday, December 19

LTC Raising $24.5 Million

LTC Properties Inc. is raising $24.5 million through a private offering amid a big expansion by the health care real estate investment trust with a strategic partner.

County Job Gains Fail to Lower Unemployment Rate

L.A. County’s unemployment rate remained stuck at 8 percent in November even as employers added nearly 30,000 jobs to their payrolls, mostly in seasonal retail hiring, according to state figures released on Friday.

Thursday, December 18

Growing Health Net Ups Guidance

Health Net Inc. announced new guidance on Thursday that increases its 2015 earnings outlook by 30 percent compared to this year.

Simi Valley Chamber CEO Retiring

After 16 years of service, Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leigh Nixon announced on Thursday that she is stepping down this spring.

Briefs: Superior Industries, American Homes, Amgen

Superior Industries names director. American Homes founder buys shares. Amgen ups dividend.

Wednesday, December 17

Sony Pulls Release of 'The Interview' Following Threats

Sony Pictures decided on Wednesday not to release the controversial film "The Interview” in theaters on Christmas Day.

Tutor Perini Receives $190 Million Vegas Settlement

Tutor Perini Corp. will receive a nearly $190 million settlement from the owners of the CityCenter project in Las Vegas over a hotel that never opened due to alleged construction flaws.

Valley Home Services Company Receives $12.5 Million

On-demand home-services provider Serviz received a second round of funding led by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

Briefs: Burbank Airport, Orange Line

Burbank Bob Hope Airport hires marketing firm to improve awareness of the airfield's proximity to tourist and business destinations. Metro tests 60-foot buses on the Orange Line.

Tuesday, December 16

Hotel Groups Sue L.A. for Minimum Wage Law

Hotel industry groups on Tuesday sued the city of Los Angeles in federal court over the city’s enactment of a minimum wage ordinance.

Founder of El Torito Dies

Larry J. Cano, founder of the El Torito Mexican restaurant chain which started in the San Fernando Valley, died Dec. 10 from cancer.

Woodland Hills Men Charged in $100 Million Ponzi Scheme

Two Woodland Hills men accused of orchestrating a 15-year-long Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 2,000 investors of more than $100 million were charged Tuesday.

Briefs: MRV, Signature Group

MRV approves share-repurchase program. Signature Group prices secondary offering.

Monday, December 15

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Condom Law

A federal appeals court rejected on Monday arguments by adult film production company Vivid Entertainment to strike down the Los Angeles County condom law and instead upheld its key elements.

MRV Names New CEO, CFO

MRV Communications Inc. announced on Monday that Mark J. Bonney was appointed chief executive and president, and Stephen Krulik chief financial officer.

AdRev Acquires Santa Monica Digital Music Firm

YouTube music administrative service AdRev announced on Monday that it has acquired DashGo Inc., a digital-music distribution and marketing firm for record labels, podcasters and recording artists.

Glendale Hospital Workers Join Union

Nurses, technicians and other workers at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital have voted to join the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, the union announced on Monday.

Surf Air Expands Service to Oakland

Surf Air started service on Monday to Oakland International Airport, the eighth destination for the local aviation startup that largely serves executives and professionals.

It Could Have Been A Lot Worse

The year brought major victories to Valley-area businesses, but the minimum-wage increase hurt.

Op-Ed: Business scores some political victories..

Cheap funding was the fuel for big deals

Deals: For both buyers and sellers, high stocks and low interest rates created a favorable M&A market.

Newcomers & Goners

Prominent companies joined or left the Valley 50 index this year, as acquisitions, relocations and an IPO changed the landscape of the local economy.

Staying Aloft Takes More Than Air

Aerospace: AeroVironment seeks funding for Global Observer.

Aerospace: AeroVironment’s high-altitude drone is a project in search of funding.

Woodland Hills Camera Maker Widens Vision

Production: Can Panavision provide filmmakers a movie-in-a-box package?

Ripe for The Farmer’s Market

Kaiser’s sponsored event offers domestic violence booth.

Health Care: Kaiser hosts a domestic violence advocate at its farmer’s market.

Viewing the Past at 40,000 Feet

Boeing’s rich local heritage documented in new photo library.

Aviation: Boeing’s new website sells historical photos to air enthusiasts.

When Math And Music Add Up

Cellist Alex Bozman, a former engineer, is now an entrepreneur.

Innovation: Santa Clarita has a tech incubator with a knack for learning.

The Number

The Number: Apartment owners expect a year of upgrades in 2015.

Ol’ Saint Shrek?

Retail: DreamWorks Animation partners with Glendale Galleria on holiday attraction.

Retail: DreamWorks sponsors “trips” to see Santa at the Glendale Galleria.

L.A. Fitness Gives Lift to Struggling Glendale Mall

Retail & Hospitality: Dallas owner signs multiple tenants for Marketplace.

It appears Glendale Marketplace is on the mend.

High-Tech Makeover for Light-Weight Scooter

Technology: Agoura Hills startup makes 27-pound vehicle that can be folded.

Grant Delgatty, founder of URB-E, an Agoura Hills startup that makes light, electric scooters for use by urban commuters, has been named to the 2014 socalTECH 50 list.

Burbank YMCA Isn’t Slowing Down in 90th Year

Giving & Non-Profits: Community center expands offerings after multiple fundraisers.

The Burbank Community YMCA recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, but unlike most nonagenarians it’s had a very busy year.

Learning Polymerase Reactions at Junior College

Health Care & Biotech: Trade group promotes biotech classes to beef up worker base.

Attendance for a biotechnology class at Ventura College is getting a boost from the Bio Science Alliance, a Conejo Valley trade group that’s in the midst of a renaissance.

Parting Shot

Howard “Buck” McKeon is leaving Congress after 22 years. He reflects on his long career serving north L.A. County and how to keep the local defense industry strong.

Q&A: Next month Buck McKeon will retire from Congress, but he won’t miss the politics.


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

Timeline: Land grabs, lawsuits and labor agreements involving companies in the greater Valley.

around the valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

Warner Bros. Entertainment will make 152 staff reductions in January across all divisions, with nearly all at the San Fernando Valley lot, according to notices filed last month with the state Employment Development Department.

Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events


Market Watch Summary

Stocks see-sawed slightly lower during the two-week period ending Dec. 10, with optimistic jobs data and slumping oil sending mixed signals to investors.

The Anti-Top Ten List

From the Newsroon: The Anti-Top Ten List looks back at some standout stories in the Valley.

Now, Here’s to a Better 2015

Op-Ed: A wish list for 2015.

Investors’ patience was rewarded

Stocks: In entertainment, biotech and health care, it was an up year for Valley stocks – with a few exceptions.

Tease photo

Friday, December 12

New Valley Commuter Bus Service Starting Monday

Two new Metro commuter bus lines serving the San Fernando Valley will begin service on Monday.

Reach Local Names New Chairman

ReachLocal Inc. has named a new chairman and two board members as it continues to pursue its turnaround.

Marvel Toy Case Headed to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal of a case by a man who invented a popular Spider-Man toy and alleged that Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Entertainment Co. cheated him out of royalties.

The Year in Stocks: A Pleasant Surprise

The Business Journal's end-of-year stock wrap-up found that investors who had the fortitude to wait out the ups and downs were pleasantly rewarded.

AeroVironment Drone Grounded in Simi Valley

AeroVironment's Simi Valley drone unit is looking for funding to finish testing and development of the Global Observer, the company's largest unmanned aircraft.

Thursday, December 11

Hearst Buys Stake in AwesomenessTV

Hearst Corp. has acquired a 25 percent interest in DreamWorks Animation SKG’s AwesomenessTV for $81.3 million, strengthening an online partnership in the YouTube network, the companies announced on Thursday.

House Passes Soledad Canyon Mine Bill

Federal legislation to block the opening of a sand-and-gravel mine in the Santa Clarita Valley took a big step forward on Thursday when the House unanimously passed a bill on the issue.

Warner Bros. Names Vice Chair, CFO

A day after naming a new vice chairman, Warner Bros. Entertainment has selected a new chief financial officer.

Briefs: IPC, PennyMac, Ryland

IPC buys psychiatric doctors group, PennyMac declares cash dividend.

Wednesday, December 10

DreamWorks to Launch Asian TV Channel

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. plans to launch a TV channel in 19 Asian countries next year, the Glendale studio announced.

Quarterly Results Send Cherokee Shares Higher

Cherokee Global Brands announced third-quarter financials significantly higher than expectations, causing shares to jump nearly 11 percent.

Tuesday, December 9

Valley Film Festival Set to Open

The curtain will rise at the 14th annual Valley Film Festival Wednesday at the Laemmle NoHo 7 theatre in the North Hollywood Arts District.

L.A. Employers Plan Steady Hiring

Local employers plan to hire at a solid, steady pace during the first quarter of next year, according to a survey released Tuesday from Manpower Inc.

Briefs: Disney, Ryland, Cheesecake

The soundtrack of Disney's "Frozen" ranks as the year's top-selling album, Ryland launches two developments and Cheesecake opens new restaurants.

Monday, December 8

Wesco CEO Retires

Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc. announced on Monday that Randy Snyder will retire as chief executive but continue in the role of chairman, effective immediately.

Indian Firm Buys Natrol Assets from Bankruptcy

Natrol Inc., a Chatworth maker of vitamins and supplements in bankruptcy, has sold most of its assets to an Indian generic drug maker for $133 million plus assumed liabilities, the company announced Monday.

Amgen Releases Details of Cancer Drug Study

Amgen Inc. has released detailed positive results from a study on cancer treatment Kyprolis, a key drug for the biopharmaceutical company that disappointed investors with earlier trial results.

Friday, December 5

Update: Orion Blasts Off on Rocketdyne Engines

NASA successfully tested the first flight of the Orion space crew capsule on Friday morning – a program that is intended to once again take humans into deep space.

NFL Scouts Carson for Next Big Stadium

Yes, yet another site is entering the L.A. region’s pro football stadium derby, and this time it’s a county park and golf course in Carson.

Briefs: Vitesse, Wesco, Camarillo Plaza

Vitesse Semiconductor narrowed its quarterly loss, Wesco Aircraft appointed a new board member and Camarillo Plaza landed an anchor tenant.

Thursday, December 4

Briefs: AeroVironment, Superior Industries

AeroVironment receives a $4.3 million contract; Superior Industries declares quarterly cash dividend.

Wednesday, December 3

Panavision Acquires Mobile Post-Production House

Panavision acquired post-production house Light Iron on Wednesday in a move that will allow the Woodland Hills camera manufacturer to offer a complete suite of digital production services.

PennyMac Moves into Commercial Real Estate

PennyMac Financial Services Inc. announced Wednesday it has formed a new division to focus on loans that finance multifamily and other commercial real estate.

WellPoint Switches Name to Anthem

The health insurer formerly known as WellPoint Inc. officially changed its name to Anthem Inc. on Wednesday.

Briefs: Amgen, ValleyCrest

The FDA gives expedited approval to Amgen leukemia drug. Merged ValleyCrest changes its name.

Tuesday, December 2

Warner Bros. Cuts Hit Valley Hard

Warner Bros. Entertainment will lay off 152 employees in January as part of previously announced cutbacks amid pressure by parent Time Warner Inc. to reduce expenses.

Obit: Princess Cruises Founder

The founder of Princess Cruises, who pioneered many industry innovations and made his ships stars on “The Love Boat,” has died. He was 94 years old.

L.A. Council OKs Measures to Boost Film Production

The L.A. City Council on Tuesday approved a host of measures sought by Valley Councilman Paul Krekorian aimed at curbing runaway film production.

Briefs: Interlink, Salem, Ryland

Interlink Electronics forms partnership. Salem Communications increases its dividend. Ryland Homes opens Maryland development.

Monday, December 1

DreamWorks Shares Tumble Over 'Penguins'

Shares in DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. fell more than 5 percent on Monday, reflecting the weak box office results for “Penguins of Madagascar ” – which could become the latest bomb for the struggling studio unless ticket sales pick up.

CU Bancorp Completes 1st Enterprise Acquisition

The parent of California United Bank announced on Monday that it has acquired 1st Enterprise Bank in a deal valued at $112 million.

Briefs: Signature Group, Rexford Industrial

Signature Group launches $300 million private placement. Rexford Industrial buys Van Nuys Airport adjacent building.

New Address For Post Office?

Development: Apartments eyed for Woodland Hills location.

Development: The Woodland Hills post office could become an apartment complex.

Too Little of A Good Thing

Finance: Second Sight smash IPO may have been underpriced.

Finance: Second Sight took a low view when pricing shares for its initial public offering.

Twisted History

In its nearly 20 year existence, Applied LNG has been known by multiple names, which reflects the company’s complicated history.

Mann Completes Sale of Business Parks

Even as Alfred Mann calculates his monetary stake in Second Sight Medical Products Inc., he has raised additional capital by selling both of his Valley commercial real estate assets.

Firm Spends Big on Little Apps

Mobile: Mandalay Digital forks over $65 million for mobile installer.

Mobile: A $65 million acquisition puts Mandalay Digital in the market for Apple phone apps.

Franchisee Painting by Numbers

MBA scraps suit and tie for second career as house painter.

Careers: White-collar executive John Villar tries his hand at running a painting service.

Making a Dramatic Entrance

Dealmaker for Valley theme park firm to star in cable movie.

Entertainment: What did you do during your vacation? Mardy Ma acted in a TV movie.

Hold the Soy Sauce, Please

Company gets grants to makes soy-based sealants for wood.

Innovation: A federal grant could help develop waterproof wood coatings from soybeans.

The Number

The Number: A new report finds L.A. and Orange counties are leaders in advanced transportation technologies.

Taking His Shot

Tetail: Greg Nomura channeled his passion for pricey sneakers into a Studio City retail store.

Retail: Old sneakers are big merchandise at this Studio City consignment store.

Youthful Simi Valley Mall to Get Major Makeover

Retail & Hospitality: Center, built in 2005, will receive $87 million reconstruction.

Get ready for a major makeover at the struggling Simi Valley Town Center.

Soccer Veteran Aiming for Different Kind of Goal

Giving: Calabasas coach starts non-profit to interest inner-city kids in the sport.

Leon Abravanel has been playing soccer since he could hold a ball, including a stint as a club player.

Company Washing Hands of Old Headquarters

Real Estate: Bobrick moving into build-to-suit 500 yards away in NoHo.

As company sales recover from the downturn in commercial construction, Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. is getting ready to move into its new build-to-suit headquarters.


Market Watch Summary

Stocks showed modest improvement in the two-week period ended Nov. 25.


Calendar of Events

around the valleys

News and notes from around the greater San Fernando Valley

Tutor Perini Corp. announced its subsidiary Fisk Electric Co. has won an $87 million contract for work on the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.

How to Empower Female Investors

Op-Ed: Too few women VCs.

Don’t Break This Tax Promise

Voters passed Prop 30 as a temporary tax measure to avoid automatic cuts but now there is talk to extend it.

Op-Ed: The perils of Prop 30

A Full Tank

Westlake Village firm building Texas LNG plant

Energy: Applied LNG in Westlake Village is building a liquefied natural gas production plant in Texas.

Tease photo

Small Investors Make a Play

Editor: Second Sight’s oversight; Nazarian’s help for the middle class