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SOUTHLAND PREVIEW / The Business Week Ahead

Southland

February 19, 1996|Times Staff Reports

Comeback Trail?:

Friday will bring a government report on January unemployment and job growth that will shed light on whether the economic comeback in the Southland and the rest of the state is continuing. In December, the jobless rate in Los Angeles County settled back down to 7.6% after spiking up to 9% in November. In Orange County, the unemployment rate in December was 4%, down from 5.2% the month before. For California as a whole, the seasonally adjusted rate fell to 7.7% from 8.8%.

Be Mine, Burt:

Executives at Fidelity National Financial Inc. in Irvine will stay close to the phones Wednesday, awaiting word on their proposed takeover of Burt Sugarman's Giant Group Ltd. in Beverly Hills, which controls the Rally's hamburger chain. Fidelity National, the nation's fifth-largest title insurance company, set a deadline of Wednesday for Sugarman, chairman of Giant Group, to respond to the unsolicited $49-million bid. Fidelity Chairman William P. Foley II has said he'll launch a hostile takeover effort if an agreement is not reached by then. Fidelity already holds a 14.75% stake in Giant; it is offering about $12 per share worth of Fidelity National stock for Giant Group's remaining shares. Shortly after Fidelity National began acquiring Giant Group stock, Giant Group adopted a "poison pill" package designed to take effect should Foley's stake in Giant hit 15%. The companies are also suing each other in federal court.

NAFTA Nabobs:

Networking for cross-border trade will be the dominant theme when business and government officials from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border meet Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement and how best to take advantage of it. The meeting will take place at the headquarters of its sponsor, the Southern California Assn. of Governments, 818 W. 7th St., Los Angeles. It will feature the Baja California state secretary for economic development, Jorge Gallego Salas, and 20 other officials from the Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora. Many Southern California businesses with sales and manufacturing operations in Mexico will be represented, including automotive, merchandising, plastics, farm and electronics companies. For more information, call (213) 236-1920.

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