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Northrop move worsens Southern California's Fortune-500 brain drain

January 4, 2010 |  7:10 pm

Southern California is losing its third-largest Fortune 500 company headquarters with Northrop Grumman Corp.’s decision to move to the Washington, D.C., area.

That leaves 19 of the Fortune 500 firms based in the Southland. As recently as 2006 there were 23.

The region’s Fortune 500 roster has changed in part because some real-estate-related companies still based here have shrunk dramatically in recent years, dropping off the list. Fortune ranks companies by revenue.

Northroptower KB Home Corp., for example, made the cut in 2006, after its sales topped $9.4 billion in 2005. The company didn’t make the list in 2009, with sales of $3 billion the previous year.

But the region also has suffered other Fortune 500 headquarter losses over the last few years, siphoning away high-paying jobs.

Engineering and construction giant Fluor Corp. left Irvine for Dallas in 2006.

Technology consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp., which ranked sixth on the list of SoCal Fortune 500 firms in 2006, moved to Falls Church, Va. in 2008.

Last year, defense contractor SAIC announced it would leave San Diego for McLean, Va.

Also in 2009, DaVita Corp., a $5.7-billion-revenue company that operates a network of kidney-dialysis service centers, said its top executives would move to Denver from El Segundo.

Walt Disney Co., the 60th-largest firm on the 2009 Fortune 500 roster, remains the biggest SoCal company on the list; the region's No. 2 on the list is tech-products wholesaler Ingram Micro, based in Santa Ana. Occidental Petroleum is No. 4 and DirectTV Group is No. 5.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Northrop's headquarters in Century City. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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