Lots of local players are involved in the leveraged management buyout of El Segundo-based Wyle Laboratories Inc., one of the leading high-tech testing and technical support companies.

Advising Wyle management was John Mavredakis, managing director with Century City-based Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, the finance shop. Mavredakis helped engineer a deal in which Wyle executives and engineers bought out Westside merchant bank William E. Simon & Sons LLC's equity stake, assisted by debt financing provided in part by Beverly Hills-based Libra Mezzanine Partners, a unit of U.S. Bancorp. Libra will take a small equity stake in Wyle too.

"This was a satisfying deal, because we had the chance to help some real people," said Mavredakis. "By coming up with the structure and financing, we helped management buy the company, and take control of their destiny, so to speak," said Mavredakis, who also noted that a "big group" of Wyle employees participated in the buyout.

Privately held Wyle, founded in 1950, has been growing; annual revenues more than doubled to $140 million in the past four years, and it now employs 1,400 people at 13 major testing locations nationwide. Last year was the company's best ever, officials said in a prepared statement.

Mavredakis will take a seat on Wyle's board, and provide ongoing financial advice to the company. Is there an initial public offering in the offing? "I wouldn't rule that out," said Mavredakis. "This is a terrific company."

Fertile Stock?

Ken Luskin is a breed of money manager one used to see more of before blue chips and tech stocks sucked the oxygen out of the room for all other kinds of stocks: That is, a manager who assembles a stake in a small- or mid-cap company with a good story, and who then patiently waits for Wall Street to discover the gem-in-the-rough.

Now, finally, the mid-caps and even small caps are outperforming the blue chips. A change may be in the winds.

Moreover, Luskin recently earned some bragging rights when he advised (in this column) buying Alhambra-based Ortel Corp. in the $6-a-share range. The stock ended up trading at more than $180 a share, before being bought at about $160 by Lucent Technologies Inc.

OK, that's nice, but what's the encore? Now Luskin likes a little stock named Conceptus Inc., so much so that his money management shop, Malibu-based Intrinsic Value Asset Management, has filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission and taken a 17 percent stake in the company, but has no plans to take control or board seats.


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