With more investors looking to capitalize on the recovering banking sector, Lovell Minnick Partners LLC, an El Segundo private equity firm focused on the financial services industry, has invested in a beleaguered Denver savings and loan.

Lovell Minnick partnered with private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Management LLC and financial professional Henry Duques to put $103 million of new equity into United Western Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Western Bank.

In June, United Western received a cease-and-desist order from the Office of Thrift Supervision directing it to raise capital.

Lovell Minnick and Oak Hill have agreed to invest $47 million each, while Duques, the former chief executive of First Data Corp., will invest $9 million. The investments, which are part of a $200 million private placement, are conditioned on the institution raising the remainder of the required capital.

The firms will each buy 117.5 million shares of United Western’s stock at 40 cents apiece. Shares closed Nov. 4 at 49 cents.

Jeff Lovell, chief executive of Lovell Minnick, said he has seen an increasing number of attractive investment opportunities, including those in the L.A. area.

“We are beginning to see some interesting opportunities,” he said.

With fewer large banks in trouble and the banking industry as a whole seeing profits on the rise, investors have been more willing lately to recapitalize distressed institutions. In September, investment banker Stephen Gordon led a $460 million investment in Bay Cities National Bank, a struggling Redondo Beach institution since renamed Opus Bank.

Film Financing

As large-scale film production struggles to find financial backing, a pair of movie executives is unveiling a quarter-billion-dollar venture fund in the hope of financing as many as 10 films in the next few years.

Jean-Luc De Fanti and Jeff Sagansky, co-founders of media investment firm Winchester Capital Management in Los Angeles, last week launched Hemisphere Media Capital with $250 million of capital from institutional investors and strategic partners.

Hemisphere plans to invest with overseas partners in a joint venture called Hemisphere Motion Picture Partners, which will co-finance major studio films expected to have broad international appeal. The venture – which also includes Japanese distributors Toho-Towa Co. Ltd. and Kadokawa Pictures, as well as RGM Media Ltd. of Singapore – will invest up to $400 million in 10 movies over the next four years.

De Fanti said the venture is “a hybrid model” of film financing that brings in international distributors from the beginning, rather than the traditional model in which the distributors enter the picture later on.

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