Los Angeles Business Journal

Wednesday’s L.A. News Roundup

By Deborah Crowe Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NEW CHAIRMAN: Signature Group Holdings Inc., the Sherman Oaks investment company that last month fought off a proxy battle by its largest single shareholder, on Wednesday said that one of its two new directors, G. Christopher Colville, had been named chairman. Chief Executive Craig Noell, who had been serving as chairman, now has added the title of president. Signature, which last week reported a smaller second quarter loss, is the successor company to former Santa Monica subprime lending giant Fremont General Corp. Fremont emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization two years ago and renamed itself after Noell and his partners struck a deal with investors and creditors.

GOING PRIVATE: Shares of Physicians Formula Holdings Inc. rose more than 14 percent to $4.21 on Wednesday after the Azusa mass-market cosmetics and skin care company announced a deal to be taken private by San Francisco private equity firm Swander Pace Capital in a deal valued at about $65 million. Swander has agreed to pay shareholders $4.25 a share in cash, a 15 percent premium over the stock's closing price on Tuesday. Shareholders still need to approve the deal, which is expected to close later this year. Shares were downgraded from “outperform” to “in line” by equity analyst Lee Giordano at Imperial Capital LLC.

LOSS SHRINKS: Teen retailer Hot Topic Inc. late Wednesday reported a second-quarter net loss of $768,000 (-2 cents a share), an 87 percent smaller loss than in the same period a year earlier when the company took charges as it revamped its business. The City of Industry operator of Hot Topic and Torrid mall stores said sales rose nearly 5 percent to nearly $158 million. The loss was in line with Wall Street expectations, but revenue was slightly less than expected.

FUNDS RAISED: Movieclips,com, a online movie clip service based in Venice, on Wednesday said that it raised $18.5 million in a Series C funding round and was renaming itself Zefr. The round was led by U.S. Venture Partners of Menlo Park. Zefr, which launched in 2009, offers a proprietary technology to identify and catalog licensed content posted online. It has deals with six major Hollywood studios and YouTube to monetize premium content, including social networking features for film buffs. The name change reflects the company’s expansion into online sports, television and music video content, it said.

DIGITAL ACQUISITION: Mandalay Digital Group Inc. announced late Tuesday that it signed an agreement to acquire assets of Logia Group, a mobile content development provider. Mandalay, which is based on L.A.’s Miracle Mile, offers a mobile services platform that provides portal management, user interface and billing technology for mobile operators and third-party publishers. It said the Logia deal, terms of which were not disclosed, expands its ability to offer media marketplaces, in-app payment solutions and other value-added features.