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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Around the Valleys

CONEJO VALLEY CAMARILLO Salem Media Group announced it has acquired finance newsletter and website Retirement Watch. This is the latest in a string of finance and investment digital platforms that the Camarillo multimedia company has purchased in the past year. Salem Media, primarily a broadcaster with Christian and politically conservative radio stations and programs, acquired Washington, D.C.-based Eagle Publishing in January 2014 and has since added to its portfolio of investment newsletters and trading services with roughly a dozen sites including DividendInvestor.com and EagleDailyInvestor.com. Retirement Watch was launched in 2008 and is operated by Robert L. Carlson, author of “Invest Like a Fox, Not Like a Hedgehog” and “The New Rules of Retirement.” WESTLAKE VILLAGE City National Bank in Los Angeles, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada, announced it has opened an office in Westlake Village to provide wealth management services to individuals and business owners. The private client office is nearly 2,700 square feet at 3027 Townsgate Road in the Westlake Park Place office complex. City National opened the office April 4 with four employees, and the bank said it expects to eventually expand to six people. Leo Hamill, senior vice president and regional manager for City National, will oversee the office. Clients will include entrepreneurs, professionals, high-net-worth individuals and their families and nonprofit organizations. California Lutheran University announced that its Center for Entrepreneurship in Westlake Village launched a startup incubator program last week. The Hub101 Incubator Program is a three-month-long curriculum that includes one-on-one mentorships, workshops, speaking engagements and investor meetings. At the end of the series, startups will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to various investors from Southern California. Hub101 started April 11 and will promote collaboration among entrepreneurs, Cal Lutheran and the community and will offer high-tech working spaces featuring private offices, classrooms, conference rooms and event space. Memberships start at $49 a month. SAN FERNANDO VALLEY CALABASAS Unico American Corp. announced that its directors have appointed a special committee to review the company’s strategic alternatives with the ultimate goal of increasing shareholder value. Such announcements often precede an acquisition or merger, although such a possibility was not mentioned specifically by the company. The special committee for the Calabasas insurance company is comprised of independent directors who will oversee the review process and assess all potential opportunities. Unico underwrites property and casualty insurance through its subsidiary Crusader Insurance Co. and provides insurance, insurance premium financing and membership association services through its other subsidiaries. CHATSWORTH Provision Interactive Technologies Inc. has unveiled a new 66-inch tall 3D screen for promotional displays in stores and malls. The Chatsworth company, which develops interactive kiosks to encourage in-store sales, will deploy the large screens in retail rollouts later this year. The screens can project 3D holographic images of products, and also have a touchscreen so consumers can get more information about products. The kiosks also have a bar code scanner for consumers to scan their retail loyalty card and receive electronic coupons. GLENDALE Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. has received a $5 million equity investment from health care management company Network Medical Management Inc. in Alhambra. Per the agreement, ApolloMed issued 555,555 preferred shares of stock to Network Medical at $9 per share with warrants to purchase an additional 555,555 shares at $10 per share. The Glendale health management company plans on using the money as working capital and to finance growth. Just six months ago, Network Medical made a $10 million equity investment in ApolloMed, as the two companies have been working together on various projects in population health management and hospitalist medicine. Verizon Communications Inc. has acquired a stake in multi-platform media company AwesomenessTV. Verizon joins DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and Hearst Corp. in a joint ownership of the media company, based in Los Angeles. DreamWorks Animation, in Glendale, remains the majority owner with a 51 percent stake. Hearst and Verizon each own 24.5 percent. AwesomenessTV produces content aimed at teenagers. The network’s lineup includes short form videos on fashion, pop culture and celebrities as well as comedy sketches, reality programming and dramas. AwesomenessTV Chief Executive Brian Robbins said the addition of Verizon to the ownership group brings insight and resources. PORTER RANCH Home sales in Porter Ranch were hit from the Aliso Canyon gas leak that lasted for three months last fall and winter, according to data analyzed by real estate research firms. Irvine-based RealtyTrac, which follows housing data, and economic and real estate research firm Greenfield Advisors in Seattle report that sales activity of Porter Ranch homes fell 44 percent between November and January compared to the prior three-month period. Also, the number of all-cash sales – which don’t need approval for financing – soared 50 percent in the same period. VAN NUYS Electro Rent Corp. announced its quarterly results, blaming the expiration of a big contract for falling income and revenue. The Van Nuys company, which rents electrical testing equipment, reported net income of $1 million (4 cents a share) for the fiscal third quarter ended Feb. 29, compared to $2.4 million (10 cents) for the same period a year ago. Revenue fell 30 percent to $39.5 million. The one analyst who follows the company expected net income of 11 cents on revenue of $43 million, according to Thomson Financial Network. Chief Executive Daniel Greenberg said that the company has worked to cut costs but couldn’t make up for the revenue shortfall. WOODLAND HILLS United Online Inc. has sold off its last social media business to a German company in a deal valued at about $18.3 million. The Woodland Hills Internet service and social-media company had operated StayFriends websites in five European countries. The buyer, Ströer Content Group GmbH, provides out-of-home and online advertising services. United Online Interim Chief Executive Jeff Goldstein said the sale is consistent with the company’s strategy to exit social media. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the month. SANTA CLARITA VALLEY VALENCIA MannKind Corp. has regained the worldwide manufacturing and marketing rights to Afrezza Inhalation Powder, the company’s sole commercial product, from French pharma giant Sanofi. Sanofi terminated its licensing agreement with the Valencia biotech three months ago. Under the terms of the deal, Sanofi will continue distribution of its existing Afrezza inventory until MannKind takes over sometime during the third quarter. Afrezza is an inhalable insulin. Sanofi’s U.S. sales of Afrezza proved disappointing; the company reported a little over $2 million in sales for the third quarter of last year. The company plans to hold an analyst conference call on April 19 to discuss its commercialization plans for Afrezza. SIMI VALLEY SIMI VALLEY Tim Conver is retiring as AeroVironment Inc.’s chief executive next month and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Wahid Nawabi. Conver, who has served as chief executive for more than 20 years, will remain as chairman of the Simi Valley maker of unmanned aircraft and electric vehicle charging stations. Nawabi joined AeroVironment in 2011 and became chief operating officer last year. Conver became the company’s president in 1990 and was named chief executive in 1992. During that period, AeroVironment went from a privately-held company to a publicly-traded one. – Compiled by Stephanie Henkel

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