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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Around the Valleys

Conejo Valley THOUSAND OAKS Amgen Inc. will end a partnership to develop a drug for psoriasis because it could face restrictive labeling over concerns that it might lead to suicidal thoughts. In 2012, the Thousand Oaks biotech signed an agreement with London-based AstraZeneca to develop and commercialize the skin treatment called brodalumab. But during clinical studies, patients reported thoughts of suicide, and Amgen concluded that would prompt warning labels that could limit the marketability of the drug. While the announcement surprised analysts, the news hurt AstraZeneca more than Amgen. Alexandra Hauber, an analyst at UBS AG, lowered her sales projections for AstraZeneca by 3 to 9 percent for 2017-2020. San Fernando Valley BURBANK James A. “Jay” Rasulo, chief financial officer at Walt Disney Co., is stepping down June 30 in a move expected since Chief Executive Bob Iger passed him over in February as heir apparent. Rasulo, who joined Disney in 1986, has been working without a contract since January. Iger, 63, appointed studio veteran Thomas Staggs as chief operating officer on Feb. 5, putting him next in line for the CEO job should Iger step down when his contract expires in June 2018, as is expected. The company said Rasulo will continue to advise the company and “assist in the transition” after he leaves. A successor was not named. A Florida senator has called for an investigation into potential misuses of a controversial visa program used by Disney and other companies that employ immigrants to fill engineering and tech positions. The request by Sen. Bill Nelson followed a New York Times report that Disney laid off 250 employees at Walt Disney World in Orlando last year and had them train inexpensive replacements brought in from India through the H-1B visa program. The visa program allows up to 85,000 temporary visas for foreigners with advanced technical skills to fill jobs when companies cannot find American workers to fill the positions. Disney issued a statement that said the layoffs were part of a restructuring and it had hired back 120 of the workers. ENCINO Children’s Hospital Los Angeles opened its first outpatient clinic in the San Fernando Valley. The 5363 Balboa Blvd. center in Encino spans 3,000 square feet and has seven exam rooms staffed by doctors from the Hollywood non-profit hospital. It also will serve children from the Conejo Valley and nearby parts of Los Angeles, including Bel-Air, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, said Robert Adler, chief medical officer at the hospital’s Pediatric Network. The hospital treated 19,351 children from the San Fernando Valley area in the one-year period ended last July, accounting for more than 100,000 doctor visits. GLENDALE A North Hollywood classical theater company announced plans to transform a long-vacant downtown Glendale storefront into a new cultural arts center. The Antaeus Theatre Co. is taking 7,700-square-foot at 110 E. Broadway, a highly visible location across the street from the Americana at Brand mall. The space has been largely vacant since a Gateway Computer retailer moved out several years ago. The project will transform the storefront into an 80-seat main theater and a 40-seat black box stage, and feature additional rehearsal space, a lobby and a classics library. The theater hopes to complete the multimillion dollar reconstruction in time to stage its fall 2016 season there. LegalZoom.com Inc. has sued the North Carolina State Bar, accusing the body of violating federal antitrust laws by trying to prevent the company from selling its legal service plans in the state. The Glendale online legal services company is seeking $10 million in damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina. It also wants a court order forcing the bar to certify LegalZoom’s prepaid plans. According to LegalZoom, the company has tried to get its plans registered with the bar, a legal requirement, but it refused, maintaining the plans constitute the unauthorized practice of law. SYLMAR Shareholders of Tutor Perini Corp. have rejected the Sylmar construction company’s executive pay package for the fifth year in a row. The vote at the company’s annual meeting was non-binding but allowed shareholders to express their opinion on the compensation of the company’s chief executive, chief financial officer and at least three other of the most highly compensated executives. Chief Executive Ronald Tutor, who owns 20 percent of the stock, came under particular criticism for his $25.6 million pay last year. The company did not return calls for comment on the shareholders’ vote. An upscale 223-unit apartment complex in Sylmar has traded hands for $45.8 million, or $205,000 a unit. Tarzana real estate investment firm J&B Asset Management purchased Rockwood at the Cascades from Overland Capital Group Inc. of Boston and Fairfield Residential, a multifamily investor and property management group in San Diego that developed the property. The 219,000-square-foot complex was built in 2007 on 12.7 acres at 16613 Foothill Blvd. It features 10 three-story buildings, a resort-style swimming pool and spa with cabanas and poolside Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a clubroom and a courtyard with a fireplace, dog park and playing field. VAN NUYS U.S. Customs service for international travelers has returned to Van Nuys Airport after a nine-year absence. A 1,500-square-foot facility at fixed-based operator Signature Flight Support opened late last month. Aircraft operators flying from international destinations will now no longer have to stop at Los Angeles International Airport or another port-of-entry to clear customs before continuing on to Van Nuys. The operators will pay a sliding user fee for the customs check. Van Nuys has been without customs agents since 2006, when they were pulled from there and Burbank Bob Hope Airport for re-assignment. WOODLAND HILLS A new Farmers Insurance product that fills a gap in coverage for Uber and Lyft drivers was approved by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The Woodland Hills insurer will offer coverage for what the ridesharing companies call “period one” – the time during which a driver has turned on his ride-hailing app and is awaiting a fare. It’s the first such policy offered by a major insurer. Under current rules, ridesharing companies are required to insure their drivers in period two, when they are on the way to pick up a passenger, and period three, when they are transporting a passenger. United Online Inc.’s subsidiary, Classmates Inc., has agreed to pay part of an $11 million penalty to settle allegations of deceptive advertising. Classmates, based in Seattle, and FTD Inc. agreed to the settlement with attorneys general in 22 states. FTD, the floral arrangement retailer, had been owned by Woodland Hills-based United Online until November 2013 when it was spun off as a separate company based in Chicago. The allegations stem from a period between 2005 and 2010 when visitors to the Classmates.com and FTD.com websites were sold trial term subscriptions for goods and services but were not adequately told their subscriptions would be renewed automatically on a credit card. Santa Clarita Valley VALENCIA The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Gruber Systems Inc., CEO John Hoskinson and Gruber’s employee stock ownership plan, accusing the defendants of violating federal labor law governing employee stock ownership plans, which give employees equity stakes in their companies. Hoskinson is alleged to have directed the plan to buy $2.6 million shares in the privately-held Valencia equipment maker in 2008 and 2009 at an inflated rate. He was the plan’s trustee and only member of the administrative committee at the time. The plan is funded by employee contributions. Hoskinson said he would not comment because the matter is in litigation.

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