Los Angeles Business Journal

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Latino Market

New licenses rev up auto insurer’s focus

Spain’s Mapfre hopes illegal immigrants obtaining drivers licenses will rev up its auto coverage market.

Risk, Returns

Banking: Low-profile First Credit rides bridge financing to become L.A.’s most profitable lender for three years running.

First Credit has crossed over into elite territory with its high returns from bridge financing.

Taking Pass on Politics

The death of Mickey Rooney last week got Michael Levine reminiscing.

MARK MULLEN

Investment: Double M participated in Santa Monica firm MomentFeed’s A round in December after having made seed-round investments in the company.

Before Mark Mullen upped his investment in social media marketing company MomentFeed late last year, he wanted to know if customers liked the Santa Monica company’s product.

Breezing by Age Milestone In L.A. County

Armstrong gardening business traces roots back to 1889.

Armstrong Garden Centers planted itself in Los Angeles way back in 1889.

Bean Counter Looks to Grow Beyond Show Biz

ACCOUNTING: Nigro Karlin hopes to add sectors with its extra personal services.

Nigro Karlin looks to add more non-show business clients to its beyond-bean-counting personal service.

Little Left for Lender After Sale of Loans, Deposits

ACQUISITION: Future of Wedbush Bank in question amid Grandpoint deal.

Wedbush Bank, a savings and loan owned by securities brokerage Wedbush Inc., is selling its loans and deposits to Grandpoint Bank.

Turning Work Into Child’s Play

Bizainy kits make kids bosses of their own businesses.

Bizainy makes a play for young entrepreneurs with its line of business-launching kits.

PacWest Acquisition Gets Final OK

The Federal Reserve board on Tuesday approved a deal that will create the fourth biggest local bank: Century City’s PacWest Bancorp’s acquisition of downtown L.A. CapitalSource Inc.

Homed In

lending: Hard-money lenders welcome pricey property projects as supply of low-end homes dwindles.

Hard-money financiers move into the high-price home market as the low-end housing pool dries up.

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Overseas Appeals

LAW: Gibson Dunn touts recent Latin American wins for Dole, Chevron as it courts more work from multinationals.

Recent court victories for Dole and Chevron are helping Gibson Dunn make its case for more international work.

Former Thrift Officially Vaults Into Banking World

LENDING: OneWest’s switch in charter could presage initial public offering.

It’s official: Pasadena’s OneWest Bank actually is a bank. And now Los Angeles County’s third largest by assets.

This Dog Has His Day Every Day at Law Firm

There’s one partner at Westwood law firm Liner who’s such an institution that he’s actually written into the terms of the lease.

He Wasn’t Ready to Sell, Until ...

FIRM: Todd Morgan and his partners weren’t ready to sell their firm. Then they found out how much they could get.

Taking Stock

banking: Local lenders wait and weigh value of joining new over-the-counter market specifically for banks.

BANKING – L.A. institutions are waiting and weighing potential returns of joining a new over-the-counter market for banks.

Trying to Create Initiatives to Benefit Investors

PROFILE: Steve Lockshin sees rich possibilities in steering brokerage customers to agnostic advisers.

Special Report Banking & Finance: More Money Men

As wealth rebounds, so has wealth management. Banks, breakaway firms and out-of-towners are all clamoring to manage the money of L.A.’s elite now that cash is coming off the sidelines.

INVESTMENT: L.A’s growing concentration of wealthy investors is creating a new wave of money managers.

Tech Investor Stays Linked To Pitch Event

Jamie Montgomery sells bank but holds on to its conference.

INVESTMENT: Jamie Montgomery found it too tough to break connections with his former bank’s tech conference.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Sunnie S. Kim

Making Her Mark In America

When Sunnie S. Kim left South Korea in 1974, it was a society that would have locked her out of nearly any career.

New Broker-Dealer Welcomes EB-5 Visa Program

INVESTMENT: Trevor Saliba sees opening for licensed operator as money pours in.

Foreigners who put money into American enterprises in exchange for green cards through the federal EB-5 visa program have enjoyed the same protections from scammers that safeguard other investors.

Going Beyond Low Cash Flow

Ten years ago, when Jeff Friedman and Mark Zytko were trying to secure their first deal, they had a nearly empty office, one employee and no track record.

The Un-Bankers

Special Report: Who’s Who in Banking & Finance

Business Journal spotlights nonbank execs who provide business loans that institutions can’t or won’t.

Catering to Companies Too Small for Bonds

“There’s always money available,” says Howard Levkowitz, “but not always for what people want.”

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Investment Bank OKs Buyer With Stake in State

ACQUISITION: De La Rosa sees pickup by Stifel boosting its public bond business.

The partners at Century City investment bank and bond underwriter De La Rosa & Co. had wanted to sell to a bigger firm for a few years, and they’d had offers.

Mixed Match

Banks never loaned to tech startups – until now

LENDING: Commercial banks hook up with tech startups through venture loans to be repaid after future funding rounds.

When Will Space Traveler Finally Fly?

Rene Kaerskov is hoping the Federal Aviation Administration will soon clear Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to take tourists to space.

Reform Minded

Non-profit: Homeboy Industries’ new chief executive aims to make the gang rehabilitation program more self-sufficient.

Non profit: New CEO looks to reform rehabilitation-focused Homeboy Industries into a more self-supporting business.

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New Interest

Investor says it’s finally time to bet on L.A. banking

California Business Bank’s owner looks to be L.A.’s first new player in banking in almost five years.

Top Three L.A. Banks Report Strong Earnings

Last year was a good one for Los Angeles County’s big banks, as the three biggest local lenders all reported solid earnings for 2013. All announced growing profits, assets and loan volumes.

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Namvar Victims Say They’re Being Ripped Off Again

Bankruptcy: Creditors protest as lawyers, others submit huge bills.

Ezri Namvar’s investors were ripped off when his Ponzi scheme collapsed, and now they say they’re getting shorted again by the professionals in charge of recovering their money.

Fundraiser Ready to Sit and Spin

Tour de Pier to set up stationary bikes by beach for benefit.

Tour de Pier offers a different spin on cancer fundraisers with its stationary-bike benefit by the beach.

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High Times

Soaring stock mints first legal pot billionaire

Marijuana dispensing machine maker Medbox has turned into a pot of gold for its newly minted billionaire owner.

Fundless Firms Hunt for Money

Investments: Diversis found target then lined up backing.

Investment: No money was no problem when fundless sponsor Diversis Capital went looking for its first deal.

Checking Into History

Beverly Hills hotels to mark city’s centennial with themed rooms.

Hospitality – Beverly Hills hotels make room for the city’s centennial with themed décor based on different decades.

Buyout Firm Molds Deals for European Plastic

Investment: OpenGate sees cars, homebuilding driving up market.

The folks at Century City buyout shop OpenGate Capital think Europe’s automotive and homebuilding industries are primed for recovery, so they’ve lately been investing in manufacturers of plastics that go into cars and houses there, announcing three deals in the European plastics market last year.

Mobile Wallet App Whips Out the Plastic

Finance: Wipit looks to connect to underbanked with cards.

Finance – App developer Wipit issues debit cards to spur customers to open their mobile wallets.

Banking On Paper

Printing: Superior Press changes checks when lenders merge or are acquired.

Printing – Superior Press has built up a lengthy paper trail redoing checks for acquired and merged banks

Golden Triangle Parcel Could Land Record Price

Real Estate: Property in Beverly Hills pitched for hotel-condo development.

Real Estate – Price for Beverly Hills lot could step into the history books as L.A.’s biggest on a per-foot basis

School of Platinum

Tom Gores’ firm Platinum Equity may be best known as one of L.A.’s most prominent buyout shops, but it’s also become an academy of sorts – many associates have graduated to start their own private equ

Investment – Working at Platinum Equity has paid dividends for former execs who launched their own firms

OpenGate Acquires Another Plastics Business

Century City’s OpenGate Capital said Friday that it had won a bid to take over bankrupt European plastics manufacturer Kem One SAS, its third deal in the European plastics market this year.

Scanner Maker Loses Baggage

Security: Questions over Chinese parts cost OSI contract.

Security: OSI baggage-scanner contract falls to pieces over concern for the machines’ use of a Chinese-made part.

Financial Institutions Fight to Get Handle on Name

Lending: South Korean bank wins court round on use of ‘Hana.’

In Japanese it means “flower.” In Korean, it translates as “No. 1” or “first.”

Aecom Names CEO Successor

Mike Burke will take over in March as chief executive of downtown L.A. engineering and technical services firm Aecom Technology Corp., the company announced Wednesday.

Leonard Green to Buy Lucky Brand Jeans

Leonard Green & Partners, the Westwood private equity firm that already has investments in retailers J. Crew and London’s Topshop, is getting deeper into denim, planning to buy Lucky Brand Jeans from New York’s publicly traded Fifth & Pacific Cos. for $225 million.

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Investment Fund Banks on Mom, Pop

Lending: High-interest loans to small businesses yield big returns.

Direct Lending Investments is doing well as it buys up high-interest loans made to mom-and-pop businesses.

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Bank Grabs More Branch Space But Not Deposits

LENDING: Chase No. 1 in number of outposts but its market share declines.

JPMorgan Chase has branched out to have the most L.A. outposts, but still lags bank rivals on deposits

Lender Brings In ‘Suspicious Activity’ Consultant

Rugulation: Hire by 1st Century to review money-laundering policies.

Century City’s 1st Century Bank is taking a hard look at its money-laundering policies after federal bank regulators ordered a review.

Port of Los Angeles Makes Waves With Rebates

Shipping: Program to attract alliances may start price war with Long Beach.

Shipping: Port of Los Angeles hopes to make waves by offering rebates to cargo companies.

Earnings Roundup: Hudson Pacific, Kennedy-Wilson, Live Nation

Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. reported wider losses after markets closed Monday, though the publicly traded real estate trust beat Wall Street expectations.

Payday Lenders Could Cost Bank

Banking: Federal fraud review may hold up sale by parent.

Banking: Federal review of payday-lender payment processing by National Bank of California may slow its sale.