Tower trouble?: EMI's decision to merge Capitol Records and Virgin Records has locals worried that the music giant is prepping to move Capitol's operations to NY. That could open up Hollywood's landmark building to more condos. As you might recall, Argent Ventures bought the 13-story building last year for $50 million, leading to chatter about a condo conversion. Capitol wound up leasing office space from Argent. Aside from location, Capitol employees are being told that they'll have to reapply for their jobs - often an indicator that cuts are in store. LAT
Kerkorian discount: Well, that's relative. The billionaire investor has lowered the asking price of his Bev Hills estate by 28 percent, or $7 million. Now the 30-acre property is yours for just $18 million. The gated home, which has been on the market for almost a year, includes a Mediterranean-style main house, two guest houses, two pools, two tennis courts and a putting green. WSJ
Tribune vs. Chandler?: There's now some chatter about the Chandler family trying to mount a proxy fight in order to get two additional seats on the Tribune Co. board. Right now, the Chandlers have three of the 11 seats, so the additional pair wouldn't give them control, but it would certainly give them clout. The Chandlers' bid for the company is not being received well, so a proxy effort might be the next best chance to help determine what happens to the company. WSJ
Amgen setback: The biotech giant says that its popular drug Aranesp (known as Epogen) increases the risk of death when used to treat certain cancer patients. The drug, which raises the number of oxygen-carrying red cells in the blood, has been raising red flags. A study late last year found that kidney disease patients treated aggressively with Procrit - a similar product to Epogen that's made by Johnson & Johnson - had a 34 percent higher risk of heart problems or death than those treated less aggressively. Wall Street has certainly noticed - the stock is down almost 5 percent this morning in early trading. NYT.
Maria watch: Both the NYT and WSJ examine the veeery questionable relationship between CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo and axed Citigroup executive Todd Thomson (the NY Post had details earlier in the week). The Brooklyn-born Bartiromo, who seems to fancy herself a biz version of Oriana Fallaci for having access to the rich and powerful, reported substantial pieces on Citicorp 11 times since 2004, including four on-air interviews with Thomson. And get this: At one time she owned 1,000 shares of Citicorp stock (CNBC finally put in place tighter policies for its staff). "Maria Bartiromo ... works tirelessly around the world in the service of business journalism," said CNBC in a statement. Yeah, whatever you say. By the way, both Thomson and Bartiromo are married.
No more perc: That's the chemical (perchloroethylene if you want to be technical) often used by dry cleaners that has been linked to bladder, esophageal and other cancers. The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to ban the purchase of new perc machines as of 2008 and to phase out the use of all perc by 2023. The changes will mean new equipment - and higher dry cleaning bills ($1.50 to a $15 bill is the estimate). Socal dry cleaners have started to phase out perc for several years now. LAT
The eastward movement: We knew lots of jobs were being generated in California's inland counties, but a 46 percent increase between 1990 and 2005? That accounted for more than half of the state's job growth during that period, according to a study by the nonprofit California Budget Project. This is another sign that inland communities are no longer just bedroom communities. From the LAT:
John Husing, president of the Redlands-based consulting firm Economics and Politics Inc., said Riverside and the Ontario area now offer about 1.2 to 1.5 jobs per household, about the same as Orange County. "Southern California is not a suburban economy anymore, where everyone goes to one center to work," Husing said. "It's a multi-nodal economy evolving over time, and the newest centers where that is happening" are in the western portion of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Gas keeps falling: The Auto Club's weekly survey shows that the average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $2.514, which is 5.9 cents lower than last week, 12 cents lower than last month, and four cents higher than last year. Apparently, California refiners have an excess supply of the winter blend of gasoline, which they won't be able to sell after the end of February because of air quality regulations.
Another manufacturing loss: Van Nuys-based Easton Sports, which makes bats, gloves and football helmets, will transfer all 250 of its manufacturing jobs to China, but keep its headquarters here. Since 1991, the Valley has lost about 40,000 manufacturing jobs. Easton merged with Riddell Bell Holdings about a year ago. DN