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James Rufus Koren

Stories by James Rufus

‘Hana Bank’ Battle Faces Supreme Test This Fall

LENDING: High court may decide whether Korean or L.A. business can use name.

Downtown L.A. lender Hana Financial Inc. lost the latest round in its long-running trademark fight with South Korean banking conglomerate Hana Financial Group last year.

Carson Lender Had Big Role in Somalia Money

International: Small L.A. bank halts remittances to war-ravaged nation.

Carson lender Merchants Bank of California is one of the smallest banks around, but it plays an outsized role in war-ravaged Somalia: The bank processes about two-thirds of the $215 million sent from Somali immigrants in the United States to their relatives back home, according to non-profit groups there.

Expansion Plans

Engineering: Firms have noticed that there’s plenty of work in Los Angeles, so they’re opening offices and beefing up here.

The development boom is luring out-of-town firms to Los Angeles and leading local firms to expand.

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Faithful Fan Waits for Cleveland to Rock

On a Thursday in May, Hugh Hewitt was not at the Burbank studio where he records his nationally syndicated radio program or at the downtown Los Angeles law firm offices where he is a partner.

Payday Loans May Have Cost Bank Needed Sale

LENDING: Borrowers fault National Bank of California for role as processor.

Class-action suits against payday lenders might have stalled a life-saving sale of National Bank of California.

Taking Stock Of Trades

Brokerage’s app lets family, friends share investment moves social-network style.

Ditto Trade’s app lets friends and family share and share alike by tracking their stock moves.

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Bank Scene Rich In Hiring Options

Market consolidation has allowed remaining lenders to fill their executive ranks with top-drawer veterans.

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Repo Firm Hopes to Seize Regulation Opportunity

LENDING: Remarketing sees increased need for its services among financial institutions.

One firm’s regulation is another’s windfall.

El Super Workers Picketing

Workers at an El Super grocery store in East Los Angeles picketed Thursday in what could be a prelude to a strike at a handful of the chain’s locations.

Assembly Approves Hollywood Tax Credit Expansion

Trying to match generous tax incentives in other states and keep entertainment production jobs here, the California Assembly on Wednesday approved an expanded version of its tax credit program for the film and television industries.

Car-Shopping Site Steers Investors Right on IPO

INTERNET: Analyst credits TrueCar for backing off higher price projections.

TrueCar’s shares trade above IPO price after the auto-shopping site put the brakes on higher projections.

Giving Some Credit to Philanthropy

Pride looks to swipe customers with card donation program.

Pride Card Services takes credit for donating part of its processing fees to non-profits.

Reversed Course

INVESTMENT: Small private brokerage B. Riley to go public via merger with property appraiser Great American Group.

B. Riley looks to raise its stock by going public through a reverse merger with Great American Group.

Grocers, Union Reach Tentative Deal

Three major grocery store chains and the union representing Southern California grocery workers have reached a tentative deal for a new contract, both sides have announced.

B. Riley Going Public Through Merger

West L.A. brokerage and investment bank B. Riley & Co. is going public in a merger with Great American Group Inc., a Woodland Hills liquidation company.

Concentrated Holdings Can Lead to Boom, Bust

Big stakes in a single business can offer more control but also heightened risk.

Counting It Up

In the 20 years since the Business Journal began ranking the richest Angelenos, L.A.’s wealth has migrated from oil and show business to biotech, electric cars and private equity.

Twenty years after the Business Journal’s first list, wealth from tech and private equity are on the rise while show business and real estate have faded.

New York Lender Looks To Move In on Landlords

EXPANSION: FirstKey opens L.A. office to target sector in California, Western states.

FirstKey Lending, a New York firm specializing in loans to owners of single-family rental homes, has opened an L.A. office with plans to build business in California and other Western states.

Sometimes Speaking Loudly Carries Day

Last month’s Walk to End Genocide at Pan Pacific Park drew more than 3,000 people, the largest iteration yet of what has become the biggest annual anti-genocide demonstration in the country.

15 Charged in Bank Fraud Case

Federal officials have charged 15 people, mostly from Los Angeles, with bank fraud in a $15 million check-kiting scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced Wednesday.

Cobbler’s Arty Sneakers Major Step Up

Buyers of Raul Ojeda’s Converse shoes tread into $25,000 territory.

Cobbler Raul Ojeda seeks buyers willing to foot the bill for $25,000 Converse sneakers.

A Deal That Banc of California Couldn’t Pass Up

SALE: Popular’s branches, $2.2 billion in assets, deposits to go to Irvine lender.

After buying two L.A. banks in the past 18 months, Steven Sugarman figured his Banc of California Inc. in Irvine was about done consolidating and ready to focus on organic growth.

The Royal Treatment for Fantasy Fans

Crystal Cruises offers visit to sets of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’

Crystal Cruises looks to ride HBO’s buzz with “Game of Thrones” packages – dragons not included.

New Owner for Popular Bank Branches

Twelve Los Angeles-area branches of Puerto Rico’s Popular Community Bank are being purchased by an Orange County lender.

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.

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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.

Taking Pass on Politics

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Catering to Companies Too Small for Bonds

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

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.

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.

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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.