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James Rufus Koren

Stories by James Rufus

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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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.

Meet Broker and Crime Fighter

At the end of a long work week, broker Carter Magnin doesn’t unwind with his fellow real estate buddies by going to the latest hot restaurant or bar.

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.

Bad Bonds From Wedbush Pay Off For Former Broker

Arbitrators order Wedbush to pay its former broker $4 million for pushing bad bonds.

City National Profit Beats Expectations

City National Bank’s corporate parent reported solid earnings, with profits higher than analysts expected.


BBCN Bancorp has reported growing profits, with net income of $23.5 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Investment Pays Project Rewards

ENGINEERING: Aecom gets jobs on developments it co-funds.

Aecom builds up its project list by co-funding developments through its investment arm.

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Pouring In Dollars

First Beverage taps maker of tea drink kombucha for its debut investment.

First Beverage Ventures sees kombucha maker Health-Ade as its cup of tea.

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Profits Rise at East West

Pasadena’s East West Bancorp Inc. late Wednesday reported earnings just shy of Wall Street expectations.

Activists May Hold Up Lender’s Big Acquisition

BANKING: PacWest’s bid to pay $2.3 billion for CapitalSource questioned.

Community-minded groups look to mount hefty opposition to PacWest’s big deal to buy CapitalSource.

Thrift Charters Future as Bank

LENDING: OneWest would become L.A.’s second biggest.

Charter change would vault L.A.’s biggest thrift, OneWest, into this market’s second-biggest bank.

Fit to Print?

TV Guide owner finds value in PennySaver

Classifieds mailer PennySaver earns investment firm and new owner OpenGate’s stamp of approval.

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Made Wave

CPA Russ Lesser helped Body Glove International make splash as wetsuit maker and brand licensor.

Accountant Russ Lesser caught the big wave when he joined wetsuit maker Body Glove International.

Bond-Focused Firm Pursues Alternative Strategies

INVESTMENT: TCW buys Craton as means to grow and diversify assets.

Most of the assets managed by downtown L.A.’s TCW Group Inc. are invested in bonds, but the firm has been working for the past year to build up assets invested in its so-called alternative strategies – private equity, direct lending and distressed debt.

PacWest Merger Opposed

A group that lobbies banks to do more lending in low-income communities is protesting the merger of CapitalSource Inc. and PacWest Bancorp, saying PacWest executives are not committed to community development activities.

Shamrock Sells Globetrotters

Westwood private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors has sold the Harlem Globetrotters to a Georgia company that owns and operates theme parks.

TCW Acquires Craton Equity Partners

Downtown L.A. asset manager TCW Group Inc. has acquired Beverly Hills private equity firm Craton Equity Partners, TCW announced Monday.

Car Parts Investor Plans to Keep Hands on Wheel

AUTOMOTIVE: Shares in US Auto Parts rise after call for Oak to sell stake.

Biggest investor in vendor US Auto Parts spurns call to sell and says it will stay in driver’s seat.

Canadian Wealth Manager Pursues Heat in L.A.

INVESTMENT: Montreal’s Fiera steps into market by acquiring Bel Air.

The firm is still called Bel Air Investment Advisors, and it’s still based in Century City. But the private wealth management firm is now owned by a Canadian company that hopes to use Bel Air to start building its presence in the United States.

Debit Card Company Failed by College Lender?

FINANCING: Green Dot sues Sallie Mae over deal to draw in students.

Prepaid debit card company Green Dot looks to teach college lender Sallie Mae a lesson over collapsed deal.

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Firm Puts Money on Poor People

FINANCING: Core looks to cut into lines at payday lenders.

A. Arjan Schütte sees money to be made in saving poor customers from very high-cost lenders.

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Required to Do Good While Managing Risks

Banking & Finance Quarterly

Lenders bank on a variety of ways to satisfy the Community Reinvestment Act’s requirement to support poor communities.

Bond-Buying Lays Foundation for Homebuilders

CONSTRUCTION: Shares rise after Fed announces it will continue program.

Investors come knocking for homebuilders’ stock after Fed continues bond-buying program.

East West Buys Banks in San Diego and Texas

Pasadena’s East West Bancorp. said Wednesday that it will acquire a Houston bank holding company in a $273 million deal.

Take Cash, Get Legal

Bank makes unusual loans for citizenship applications

Pan American Bank is lending money to immigrants to cover the cost of their citizenship applications. And if that wasn’t odd enough, the bank is making money by doing it.

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Recapitalization Generates Interest In Bank’s Parent

LENDING: Recent deal vaults value of Broadway’s shares with investors.

Broadway Financial’s recapitalization pays off with increased investor interest.

Korean-American Lender Hangs Its Hat in Texas

EXPANSION: Hanmi joins L.A. rivals in setting up outpost in Dallas.

Koreatown lender Hanmi Bank recently opened a loan production office in Dallas, its second location outside of Southern California.

Car Battery Maker May Have Some Juice Left

ENERGY: Coda offshoot to adapt technology for vehicle-charging station.

Car-charging station deal could rev up interest in battery technology from failed auto maker Coda.