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Around the Valleys

ANTELOPE VALLEY Lower fares are coming to commuters using the Antelope Valley Metrolink line this summer through a pilot program to help improve ridership. There will be a 25 percent reduction for all ticket types for travel between Los Angeles and Lancaster starting on July 1. The pilot program will last six months and will include a new $2 “station-to-station” off-peak fare to encourage local trips using Metrolink as an additional option complementing local bus service. Weekend day passes will remain at their current $10 price. Metrolink was formed in 1991 and ridership grew steadily until it hit 12.3 million passengers in 2008. In the 2013-2104 fiscal year, it was 585,000 off its peak. SAN FERNANDO VALLEY BURBANK A 4.4-acre industrial building changed hands for $22.2 million, or about $234 a square foot. Ascent Media Management Services Inc., a regional developer based in Santa Monica, sold the property at 2130 N. Hollywood Way to Gramercy Property Trust Inc., a New York real estate investment trust. The single-story property was built in 1965 and totals 95,000 square feet. It was renovated in 1993 and features three loading docks and two grade-level doors. Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., which does post-production for clients such as 21st Century Fox and Universal Studios, occupies the entire building. Its lease runs through 2026. CALABASAS Fast A/R Funding of Calabasas acquired Continental Business Credit of Woodland Hills. Both firms specialize in factoring, which is lending collateralized by a company’s accounts receivable. Continental will maintain its name and operate as a business unit of Fast A/R Funding, but it will have access to Fast A/R Funding’s proprietary technology, which enables expedited approvals and is available 24 hours a day. “Going forward, our combined portfolio size will also allow us to complete larger loans to existing and new clients,” said Matt Begley, chief executive of Fast A/R Funding. Wells Fargo Capital Finance provided financing for the deal. PACOIMA Entertainment industry lighting manufacturer Mole-Richardson Co. is moving its headquarters and factory to Pacoima from Hollywood. The nearly 90-year old company will operate a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in an industrial neighborhood near Hansen Dam. It also will have 36,000 square feet of office space, collaborative work space, showrooms and a museum. The new headquarters at 12154 Montague St. will be finished this spring. The company has hired interior architecture and planning firm H. Hendy Associates, in Newport Beach, and architectural firm Calvert Architectural Group, in Long Beach, to design the headquarters. SHERMAN OAKS A former securities brokerage chief executive pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion in an investment scam that cost clients nearly $4 million. David Williams, who ran Morgan Peabody Inc., reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and will pay $777,881 in taxes, penalties and interest. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Williams, 54, acknowledged he directed his employees to sell securities in a fund that he had created, supposedly to invest in real estate. However, Williams used the majority of investor money from the fund to pay for personal expenses, including a lease on a $6 million Toluca Lake residence. The company closed in 2008. UNIVERSAL CITY Universal Parks & Resorts is partnering with Japanese video game company Nintendo Co. Ltd. to build interactive rides at its theme parks based on characters and games such as Donkey Kong and Legend of Zelda. With the new attractions, Nintendo and Universal are targeting the lucrative U.S. gamer demographic that last year spent $15.4 billion on video, computer and mobile games, and another $7 billion on game consoles and accessories, according to New York market research firm NPD Group. Creating attractions on popular characters in pop culture follows a well-established pattern by Universal, a unit of Comcast NBCUniversal. Universal Pictures reached a $26 million settlement in a class action lawsuit over underpayment of royalties to creative professionals who worked on home-video releases. The proposed settlement applies to directors, writers, actors and others who alleged they were shortchanged by the studio. A July 15 court hearing will determine whether the settlement is approved. If it is, two $13 million funds will be created to pay the plaintiffs; attorneys’ fees could total $4.3 million. The 2013 lawsuit was just one of several filed in the same time period against other major studios, including Warner Bros. Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, alleging they had underpaid home video royalties. VAN NUYS The Valley Economic Development Center has secured a $2 million grant from Sam’s Club that it plans to leverage into a $20 million national microlending fund. The non-profit will begin the program at its offices in California and expand to Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Oregon. The strategy is to loan money to other makers of micro loans, which typically are no more than several thousand dollars. The fund’s goal is to lend to 2,500 companies in low-or moderate-income neighborhoods. The grant is part of a five year Small Business Economic Mobility project at Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark. Ventura County OXNARD A 164-unit apartment complex changed hands for $338,628 per unit, the highest price paid in Ventura County in at least a decade for a property with at least 100 apartments. Champion Real Estate Development Co. in Los Angeles purchased The Vines at RiverPark from a partnership of Corona Riverpark Promenade LLC and Corona Riverpark Luminaria LLC, both in Oxnard. The price totaled $55.5 million. The 3040 N. Oxnard Blvd. complex, located near Pacific Coast Highway and the 101 freeway, was 95 percent leased at the time of sale. The purchase was part of a 1031 tax exchange for Champion, which operates and develops retail and multifamily properties throughout Southern California. Simi Valley The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce has hired Gioia Goodrum as its new chief executive officer. She will assume the post May 26. Goodrum has 30 years of experience in business and higher education, most recently as chief executive of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce in Williams, Ariz. Goodrum replaces Leigh Nixon, who will be retiring at the end of May. In addition to serving on the city chamber in Arizona, Goodrum worked at accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand and the University of Massachusetts. She received her MBA from Simmons College in Boston. THOUSAND OAKS A federal appeals court temporarily blocked sales of Zarxio, a copycat version of Amgen Inc.’s blockbuster drug Neupogen, while the biotech appeals FDA approval of the biosimilar drug that increases the number of infection-fighting white cells in the blood. Neupogen’s patents expired last year. Zarxio would be the first biosimilar of a blockbuster drug for sale in the United States; the copycats have been available in Europe for about a decade. Neupogen had worldwide sales last year of about $1.16 billion. WESTLAKE VILLAGE A fat-dissolving drug from Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc. that reduces double chins has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The injectable drug, called Kybella, is the first commercial product for the biotech and the only FDA-approved, non-surgical treatment for chin fat. Kythera has spent about 10 years and more than $307 million to achieve FDA approval. The company is also working on a male-pattern baldness medication. – Compiled by Karen E. Klein

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