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.

Ignited Minds, an upstart agency in Marina del Rey, took home seven awards, all based on its campaign for LA Weekly. The campaign came after the paper was purchased by an out-of-state media chain, and emphasized how LA Weekly maintains its irreverent and independent voice. Ignited Minds won the Yahoo Big Idea Integrated Campaign prize.

Other agencies to pick up hardware included Team One (2), DDB Los Angeles (2), Deutsch L.A. (2), M & C; Saatchi LA (2), Colby & Partners (1) and Conill (1).

This year's Belding judges received more than 800 submissions. To qualify, entries had to consist of advertising conceived and created in Southern California and to have first aired, published or posted during 2006. The Belding Awards are named after copywriter Don Belding, one of the founders of agency Foote, Cone & Belding.

Comedian John Henson conducted the ceremonies. Sponsors for the evening included Yahoo, Getty Images, Point 360, Adweek, Stream Sign Media, Xpedx and Reatrix.

Consultancy Publishes Journal

Perr & Knight, a consulting firm with expertise in actuarial science and regulatory compliance for the insurance industry, has launched an academic-style journal.

The Journal of Insurance Operations will appear quarterly, both in print and online. The target subscriber is a risk management executive willing to pay $60 per annum to access a growing library of material on policy administration, claims management, outsourcing and insurance technology.

"The industry needed a vendor-neutral source of information regarding the technologies, processes and frameworks that characterize excellent operations," said Rob Berg, a director at Perr & Knight and editor of the new publication. "Now insurance executives have a single source of information regarding the best known way to engineer and manage their operations for competitive advantage."

Although private companies publish journals, they typically handle the logistical aspects of the business and have university professors or professional associations tackle the editorial duties in order to ensure objectivity and professionalism. For example, Sage Publications in Thousand Oaks churns out 460 academic journals, but doesn't engage in the fields it covers, mostly in the social sciences and education.

In contrast, Perr & Knight works for 90 of the 100 largest property and casualty insurers in the nation, according to information from the company. Its previous publishing experience consists of white papers dealing with technical issues in the insurance industry.

News & Notes

MediaNews Group has adopted the Caspio Bridge database program for use at its four largest newspapers, including the Daily News of Los Angeles. For journalists, searchable databases enhance investigative and computer-assisted reporting. For readers, MediaNews will put Caspio-created databases on its newspapers' Web sites, allowing users to search databases such as home sales, school test scores, and crime statistics.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at , or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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