Private equity fund Clarity Partners has purchased a controlling interest in Modern Luxury Media, a publisher of upscale city magazines. A specific price was not disclosed but "the deal is valued at several hundred million dollars," according to a statement from Clarity.

The fund bought out the stake of Shamrock Capital, the investment firm of Roy Disney, which invested $50 million in Luxury Media three years ago. Clarity acts as lead investor in the deal, backed by co-investor Lehman Bros. and debt funding from Credit Suisse and NewStar Financial.

Both Shamrock and Clarity are based in Los Angeles, while Modern Luxury is headquartered in Atlanta.

The publisher owns 25 titles, including Angeleno (Los Angeles), Riviera (Orange County and San Diego), San Francisco, and Napa/Sonoma. It also owns the Front Desk series of in-room hotel magazines. All together, Modern Luxury publications reach 3.5 million readers every month.

Clarity General Partner Josh Gutfreund said "Modern Luxury is the only magazine publisher in America that can reach affluent readers with a luxury, localized magazine at the same time that it offers advertisers complete national coverage of every major market in the country."

"We look forward to working with Clarity on the many growth initiatives we currently have in place, including geographic expansion, strategic acquisitions, expansion within existing markets and the deployment of our online strategy," said John Carroll, president of Modern Luxury.

The entire Modern Luxury management team, including founder Michael Kong, his brother Stephen Kong, and Carroll, will remain with the company after the acquisition.

Besides Angeleno, Clarity has stakes in other L.A.-based media vehicles including ImpreMedia, owner of Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion; Oxygen Media, the woman-focused cable TV channel; and Crescent Entertainment/Roadshow Pictures, producer of the films "Happy Feet" and "Ocean's 13."

Belding Awards

TBWA, the creative agency based in Marina del Rey, took home 10 trophies the most of any ad shop from the 41st Belding Awards Show, held June 6 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The TBWA\Media Arts Lab division won the top award, called the Belding Sweepstakes, with its "Mac vs. PC" series of TV spots for client Apple Inc. The campaign features two comedians, one who personifies the PC and the other Apple's MacIntosh computer. Nearly 30 commercials feature the battling personalities, and the concept has been translated with different actors for the U.K. and Japanese markets.

Apple on TV accounted for nine of TBWA's awards.


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