Mixed market: Stocks opened higher, but they're back in the red. Dow is down 20 points.
L.A. home prices edge higher: Another sign that the housing market could be turning the corner. From March to April the increase in L.A. was 1.5 percent, according to the Case Shiller Index. Compared with a year earlier, prices are still down 3.6 percent. (press release)
News Corp. considers splitting up company: The idea is to have one business for entertainment and the other for publishing. From the WSJ:
A final decision on the split hasn't been made. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has previously opposed such a move, which has been discussed internally for several years, say people familiar with the situation. Mr. Murdoch has recently warmed to the idea, said one person familiar with the situation. The idea under consideration isn't expected to change the Murdoch family's effective control of any of the businesses, exercised through the family's roughly 40% voting stake in News Corp. The idea is similar to the split of Viacom Inc. into two companies in 2006, when CBS was carved off as a separate company. In that break up, Viacom's controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone ended up with control of both companies.
Microsoft to buy Yammer: Purchase price for the SF-based social network service is $1.2 billion. From DealBook:
Yammer was co-founded in 2008 by Mr. Sacks, a former PayPal executive who spun the business out of Geni, a genealogy and social networking site. Over the last four years, the service has grown at a rapid clip, as more companies turn to the Web for secure solutions to enhance interoffice communication and collaboration. Yammer, which offers both free and subscription services, has more than five million users and is used by more than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies. It has raised a total of $142 million in venture capital, recently adding $85 million in late February, in a financing round led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
More budget noodling: The revised package includes a guarantee that tuition at the UC and Cal State systems won't increase this year or next - provided that voters approve a November ballot measure to raise taxes. If voters reject the initiative, both systems face a $250 million cut. (SF Chronicle)
China may invest in California real estate: Homebuilder Lennar Corp. is in talks with the China Development Bank in connection with two SF projects, the WSJ is reporting.
If completed, the deal would reflect a changing dynamic between the U.S. and Chinese economies, as an American company turns to China for help funding a long-delayed and partially publicly funded project that otherwise wouldn't get done. The developments, Treasure Island and Hunters Point Shipyard, also have the potential to alter San Francisco's housing market by providing nearly 20,000 new homes, a sports arena and millions of square feet of office and retail space in a market that is land-constrained and has had limited new construction.
Forum to get facelift: MSG has purchased the aging facility for $23.5 million and plans a $50-million renovation this fall that will take at least a year. They're looking to make it a top-flight concert venue. From the LAT:
A revitalized Forum would provide an economic lift to its Inglewood neighborhood. But it faces entrenched competition from the region's other entertainment hot spots amid a challenging climate in the concert business. The owners of Staples Center said they don't fear a rivalry with the East Coast impresarios. They were quick to raise questions about the security of the neighborhood surrounding the Forum and dismissed it as a "class B" venue. "We are very certain of our customer experience, their safety and the vibrancy of our campus," said Tim Leiweke, president of Los Angeles-based AEG. "We are going to vigorously protect our own town."