History is repeating itself for Jim Freedman.

The longtime investment banker, who founded boutique M&A adviser Barrington Associates in Brentwood in the early 1980s, has launched a brand-new firm. On June 1, Freedman and several former Barrington colleagues opened the doors of Intrepid Investment Bankers LLC in West Los Angeles.

“It’s going to be very much focused on private company mergers and acquisitions as well as some capital raising,” Freedman said, “and we’ll also have our own fund to invest in companies as well.”

The firm, which has 12 employees, has “several potential clients” that it intends to pursue, said Freedman, 57. Though starting a boutique firm from scratch can be difficult, he expects the founders’ resumes and intimate familiarity with the local market to help bring in new business.

“Were not rookies at this game,” he said. “We have a lot of experience, we have a lot of contacts and it’s a field that we feel we know very well.”

Freedman, who received his M.B.A. from UCLA, has spent his entire career immersed in L.A.’s middle market. After a few years at the Foothill Group Inc., a Westside commercial finance company that was later sold to Wells Fargo & Co., Freedman founded Barrington in 1982.

The boutique became a significant player in the local middle-market M&A scene, handling high-profile deals such as the $113 million sale of the L.A. Kings in 1995 and the $685 million sale of Herbalife International Inc. in 2002.

In 2006, Wells acquired Barrington. At the time, the financial giant said it intended to keep the Barrington name and all of its employees.

But as the economic downturn took a toll on M&A activity, investment banks across the country began to suffer. At the same time, Wells acquired Wachovia, a financial conglomerate with a sizable investment banking division.

That prompted Wells to consolidate its investment banking operations under the Wells Fargo Securities Brand in 2009, doing away with the Barrington name and laying off about one-third of the roughly 45 bankers at Barrington.

Freedman and other top Barrington personnel remained with Wells for several months. But in May, Freedman and two former Barrington principals, Mike Rosenberg and Ed Bagdasarian, decided the culture of a major investment bank wasn’t for them and resigned.

“We had a great experience with Wells, and they were an absolutely first-class organization,” Freedman said. “It just became apparent to us that we wanted to do something that was more entrepreneurial.”

Rising Thrift

Pasadena’s newest thrift is quickly climbing the national rankings.

OneWest Bank, formed in 2009 from the assets of failed savings and loan IndyMac Bank, was the 38th largest depository institution in the United States at the end of the first quarter, according to data recently released by research firm SNL Financial. That is up four spots from fourth quarter 2009 and nine spots higher than the third quarter.

With $28 billion in assets, OneWest is the largest depository institution in Southern California, trailed by local banks East West Bank and City National Bank.

OneWest’s rise has been fueled by failed-bank acquisitions. In December, the thrift acquired First Federal Bank of California, adding $3.6 billion to OneWest’s asset base in the first quarter.

East West ranked No. 45, up one spot from the previous quarter, while City National came in at No. 47, down two spots.

Fund Launch

DoubleLine Funds Trust announced this month that it has introduced its third bond mutual fund, the DoubleLine Core Fixed Income Fund.

Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of downtown L.A.’s DoubleLine Capital LP, the adviser to the fund unit, will manage the new open-end fund. The fund will invest in a variety of bond types, including Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities and emerging markets debt.

Gundlach, the former chief investment officer of bond giant TCW Group Inc., launched DoubleLine in December.

C-Suite News

Center Financial Corp., the Koreatown parent of Center Bank, has named Douglas Goddard interim chief financial officer. Goddard was previously chief financial officer at First Federal Bank of California. … Tennenbaum Capital Partners, an investment firm in Santa Monica, has hired Geoffrey Jones as principal. … Union Bank, the primary subsidiary of UnionBanCal Corp. in San Francisco, has named Bradley Shairson executive vice president and head of global capital markets. Shairson is based in Los Angeles. … Global wealth adviser Barclays Wealth has hired Dana Jacobs as managing director and Alan Vorwald as director in the firm’s Century City office. … California Bank & Trust, a regional bank in San Diego, has hired Marshall Lebovits as vice president and business development officer, based in Los Angeles.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at rclough@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251.

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