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Newsletter: California Inc.: Oh, like you’re not jazzed about another movie featuring giant robots

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“Pacific Rim: Uprising” hits theaters this weekend in hopes of repeating the robots-versus-aliens franchise’s international success, especially in China, where much of the new movie was shot.
(Warner Bros.)

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

It’s that season when companies disclose their often lofty executive compensation. Wells Fargo & Co. Inc. awarded CEO Tim Sloan, in his first full year on the job, a $17.6 million package — a 35% increase from 2016 despite the banks’s continued regulatory problems. But that was nothing compared to a plan by the Tesla board to award Elon Musk a whopping $55 billion over 10 years. The performance-based package of all stock options is being sharply criticized and will be voted on by shareholders Wednesday.

LOOKING AHEAD

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Big deal: The biggest media antitrust trial in decades will begin in Washington, D.C., on Monday. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon must determine whether the Department of Justice has legal justification to block AT&T’s $85-billion takeover of Time Warner.

Rate hike: Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday are expected to nudge up a key interest rate for the fourth time in the past 12 months. After the announcement, new Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell will hold his first news conference.

Golden State jobs: The California Economic Development Department on Friday will release job figures for the month of February, providing insight into the direction of the economy. In January, the state added 35,500 jobs, a healthy gain.

Dropbox IPO: San Francisco’s Dropbox is expected to go public this week. The share offering is expected to be one of the largest tech IPOs in recent years, valuing the company at about $7.4 billion.

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Giant robots: “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” from Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment, hits theaters this weekend in hopes of repeating the robots-versus-aliens franchise’s international success, especially in China, where much of the new movie was shot.

THE AGENDA

Monday’s Business section looks at Broadcom’s scuttled deal to take over San Diego-based Qualcomm. It turns out Broadcom wildly miscalculated when it came to President Trump, who shot down what would have been the largest technology deal in history. The reverberations have only just begun. Trump dinged the deal on national security grounds — but not because Broadcom, which is based in Singapore until it moves to the U.S. later this month, posed an immediate threat. The big worry was China, Trump’s nemesis in trade.

STORY LINES

Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Playtime is over: Toymakers big and small braced for severe disruption as bankrupt retailer Toys R Us confirmed it plans to liquidate its U.S. business. Toys R Us, which for decades was the nation’s go-to store for toys and games, said it plans to shutter all 735 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, including 22 in the Greater Los Angeles area and 87 in California overall.

‘Massive fraud’: Four years ago, the Silicon Valley firm Theranos was valued at $9 billion and its founder Elizabeth Holmes was hailed as a potentially revolutionary force in the blood-testing industry. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission says now, the company that wowed a star-studded cast of investors and board members was conducting a “massive fraud.”

A faster mouse: Walt Disney Co. announced a sweeping restructuring aimed at accelerating its global expansion during a period of upheaval for Hollywood. The Burbank entertainment giant said it would combine its international media business and its content streaming operation into one unit and create another division to house its consumer products business along with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

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Insider trading? A former Equifax executive who was in line to become global chief information officer has been accused of insider trading by federal authorities for allegedly dumping thousands of shares of the company’s stock after a massive data breach at the credit reporting firm last year. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Jun Ying — at the time chief information officer of a U.S. unit — sold about 6,800 Equifax shares after he learned of the breach.

Ambitious plans: Saudi Arabia is looking to acquire a stake in the Hollywood talent agency and media company Endeavor in a move that would advance the Middle Eastern kingdom’s growing ambitions in the entertainment industry. The Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund is exploring the acquisition of a less than 10% stake in Endeavor, worth between $400 million and $500 million.

WHAT WE’RE READING

And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

Lack of trust: The Wall Street Journal looks back on the demise of Bear Stearns a decade ago. Of all the losses that ensued, “perhaps the biggest was the public’s loss of trust in markets themselves.”

Lean In legacy: The New York Times rereads Sheryl Sandberg’s influential book “Lean In” in a post-Weinstein era. “How to measure, five years later, the impact of ‘Lean In’ on the millions of women who read it (and one who wrote it), and the workplace culture they tried to navigate?”

A better net? Reddit is trying mightily to detoxify the internet, says the New Yorker. “Is it possible to facilitate a space for open dialogue without also facilitating hoaxes, harassment and threats of violence? Where is the line between authenticity and toxicity?”

Senior scofflaws: From Bloomberg, a remarkable look at why Japan’s prisons are a haven for elderly women. “Lonely seniors are shoplifting in search of the community and stability of jail.”

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SPARE CHANGE

While we’re in Asia, and in a significantly lighter vein, the Atlantic wonders why Westerners can’t do the Asian squat, which can be a factor of everything from dining to a trip to the restroom. The Atlantic cites the expertise of a California physical therapist who observes that “the squat is a great model for a multi-segmental movement pattern. The squat is a triple flexion movement. You’ve got bending at the hips, knees and ankle, so you have to fold everything up underneath you.” That’s a whole lot of squat.

For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.


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