Thursday morning headlines

Magic Mountain not being sold: Six Flags has decided to hold onto the Valencia property, although it is selling three of its water parks and four of its theme parks. The company had put a bunch of its properties on the block last year in an effort to reduce $2.2 billion of debt, but there had been reports of less-than-spectacular offers. Under new management, Six Flags has been trying to attract families and not rowdy teens, but 2006 attendance is expected to be down 14 percent. The deal was announced this morning.Bloomberg

Ameriquest on the block?: The trade publication Asset Securitization Reports says that the Orange-based sub-prime lender is being shopped around. The NY Post picked up the story and reports that Ameriquest's bankers have approached several potential buyers, including Ellington Capital Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund. These have been tough times for Ameriquest, with concern about default rates and heavy competition that's forced the company to cut mortgage fees and rates.

Gas not going down: Oil prices fell below $53 a barrel this morning in electronic trading in NY - and yet Socal pump prices are barely moving. What's the deal? Well, the experts seem at a loss, especially since prices fell this week nationwide. "It's not acting as a typical market should act," Rob Schlichting, a spokesman for the California Energy Commission, told the LAT. They still expect local gas prices to come down in the next few weeks. The Auto Club's weekly survey comes out tomorrow.

What did Kirk know?: The NYT has a juicy story about how Kerkorian's longtime lawyer Terry Christensen told the billionaire about information gleaned from illegal wiretaps of Kerkorian's ex-wife. PI Anthony Pellicano was doing to taps in connection with Kerkorian's child-custody and support case. Left unclear is whether Kerkorian knew how Christensen was getting the inside dope. The Times story says it's unlikely that Kerkorian could be held criminally liable if he didn't know the information was coming from wiretaps. As you might know, Christensen has been indicted. Anyway, there's more over at LAO.

iPhones? What's the fuss?: LAT has a good one on the ho-hum reaction in Japan to Apple's cell phone launch. The reason is that Japanese consumers are waaaay ahead of the U.S. in the many ways they use cell phones - from navigating their way home by global positioning system to buying movie tickets.

They have been a natural extension of daily life here for the last few years, spurred by Japan's decision to be the first country to upgrade to third-generation mobile-phone networks, or 3G, which increase broadband capabilities and allow for better transmission of voice and data. Apple's iPhone, by comparison, will operate on a second-generation network. It was 3G that sparked the boom in music downloads that makes it common for phones to be used as portable digital music players here. And it is 3G that has led the Japanese into a world where they can watch live TV on their phones and use them as a charge card to ride trains or buy milk at the corner store or take a taxi.

Bratz pact: "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul will be getting a role in "Bratz: The Movie" and advise the film's creative team on music, clothes and choreography. It will be the first Bratz film released in theaters - four earlier features went direct to DVD. Bratz is made by Van Nuys-based MGA. Daily News

Icahn talks trash: The billionaire financier, never one for understatement, tells Avenue magazine that the nation's companies are generally not well-managed "and it's a major problem." CEOs, he says, are often "absolutely the wrong guys to be running things" (though he says there are exceptions). Here's a snippet, courtesy of NYT's Dealbook:

The C.E.O. is the fraternity brother type who is great to have a drink with. He’s a survivor and maybe not all that smart, but he works his way up the ladder in the corporation. And if you’re a survivor, you never have someone beneath you who’s smarter than you. So you eventually work your way to C.E.O. You have someone a little dumber than you underneath, and eventually we’ll have morons running everything … which we’re getting closer to.

More by Mark Lacter:
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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