A CORPORATE CHRONOLOGY FOR ORANGE COUNTY IN THE 1980S
Here are some of the biggest business stories in Orange County in the ‘80s: 1980 Allergan is sold to SmithKline for $259 million. Deregulation forces John Wayne Airport to grant access to Frontier and Western airlines. Area loses dominance in sailboat building as firms move because of high land prices. County loses position as fastest-growing region in state. Oil business booms, and local oil services firms reap high profits. 1981 Developers William Lyon and George Argyros acquire Air California for $61.5 million. Toshiba moves industrial electronics headquarters to Tustin from New Jersey. Fluor Corp. buys St. Joe Minerals, placing more emphasis on natural-resources business. Bentley Labs of Irvine merges with American Hospital Corp. in $243-million deal. Ford Aerospace wins $1.5 billion Sgt. York anti-aircraft gun platform contract. 1982 Western National Bank in Santa Ana fails, the first local bank to collapse since the Depression. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America opens U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley. Donald Bren is elected co-chairman of Irvine Co. Beckman Instruments merges with SmithKline in $1-billion deal. Hughes Ground Systems Group gets $285-million radar contract from NATO. 1983 Bren increases Irvine Co. holdings to 86% for more than $500 million. Joan Irvine Smith sues, claiming purchase price was too low. Golden West Airlines, largest commuter in state, shuts down and lays off 400 workers. Drop in oil prices hits Fluor, Baker International and Smith International. University of California at Irvine signs first joint-venture pact with private industry. Plans for Irvine Co.'s $1-billion Irvine Center retail-commercial project is approved. 1984 Olympic biking event held here; tourists pour into county amusements. Workers strike for 22 days at Disneyland. Ritz-Carlton hotel opens near Dana Point. Homeclub acquired by Zayre for $151 million. 1985 Expansion of John Wayne Airport is approved with settlement of noise-damage lawsuit. Disneyland celebrates 30th birthday, drawing a bumper crop of tourists. Three shopping malls--South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island and Fashion Square--begin expansions or renovations. Fluor loses $633.3 million. Ford Aerospace loses Sgt. York contract, lays off 1,300. 1986 Smith International files for bankruptcy protection. Six financial institutions, including American Diversified Savings, fail. A record 22,600 housing permits are issued. Hyundai opens U.S. headquarters in Garden Grove. 1987 North American S&L; is seized hours after owner commits suicide. Regulators charge fraud. Shuwa Corp. of Japan buys Taco Bell building for $64 million. Trial over value of Irvine Co. begins in Detroit. Stock market crashes Oct. 19. Of county’s top 100 firms, 91 lose value that day. American Airlines buys AirCal in $225-million deal; Baker International acquired by Hughes Tool for $1.2 billion and leaves Orange. 1988 American Savings is sold to Bass brothers in controversial deal. American Diversified Savings closed and depositors paid $1.14 billion. Housing prices soar as slow-growth measure is debated but rejected by voters. Fifteen members of Karcher family are sued by SEC for insider trading. Smith International, out of bankruptcy, moves headquarters to Houston. Weiser Lock, citing high land and labor costs, says it will move, lay off 1,100. 1989 Lincoln S&L; is seized; failure could cost taxpayers $2 billion. Charles H. Keating Jr. is charged with civil racketeering. SmithKline Beecham spins off Allergan and Beckman Instruments. Carl Karcher settles SEC insider-trading suit without admitting or denying wrongdoing. Qintex of Australia buys Dana Point land for resort; financial problems kill project. Fluor completes restructuring with third consecutive year of profits; Donald Tappan taps Leslie McGraw to succeed him as chairman and CEO.