Los Angeles Business Journal

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Taking Pass on Politics

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Catering to Companies Too Small for Bonds

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

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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