With more investors looking to capitalize on the recovering banking sector, Lovell Minnick Partners LLC, an El Segundo private equity firm focused on the financial services industry, has invested in a beleaguered Denver savings and loan.

Lovell Minnick partnered with private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Management LLC and financial professional Henry Duques to put $103 million of new equity into United Western Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Western Bank.

In June, United Western received a cease-and-desist order from the Office of Thrift Supervision directing it to raise capital.

Lovell Minnick and Oak Hill have agreed to invest $47 million each, while Duques, the former chief executive of First Data Corp., will invest $9 million. The investments, which are part of a $200 million private placement, are conditioned on the institution raising the remainder of the required capital.

The firms will each buy 117.5 million shares of United Western’s stock at 40 cents apiece. Shares closed Nov. 4 at 49 cents.

Jeff Lovell, chief executive of Lovell Minnick, said he has seen an increasing number of attractive investment opportunities, including those in the L.A. area.

“We are beginning to see some interesting opportunities,” he said.

With fewer large banks in trouble and the banking industry as a whole seeing profits on the rise, investors have been more willing lately to recapitalize distressed institutions. In September, investment banker Stephen Gordon led a $460 million investment in Bay Cities National Bank, a struggling Redondo Beach institution since renamed Opus Bank.

Film Financing

As large-scale film production struggles to find financial backing, a pair of movie executives is unveiling a quarter-billion-dollar venture fund in the hope of financing as many as 10 films in the next few years.

Jean-Luc De Fanti and Jeff Sagansky, co-founders of media investment firm Winchester Capital Management in Los Angeles, last week launched Hemisphere Media Capital with $250 million of capital from institutional investors and strategic partners.

Hemisphere plans to invest with overseas partners in a joint venture called Hemisphere Motion Picture Partners, which will co-finance major studio films expected to have broad international appeal. The venture – which also includes Japanese distributors Toho-Towa Co. Ltd. and Kadokawa Pictures, as well as RGM Media Ltd. of Singapore – will invest up to $400 million in 10 movies over the next four years.

De Fanti said the venture is “a hybrid model” of film financing that brings in international distributors from the beginning, rather than the traditional model in which the distributors enter the picture later on.

Doing so, he said, ensures films will get international distribution while providing another financing partner for studios who want to spread the financial risk.

“Clearly in the past three to four years the independent financing and sales model has become very stressed,” he said. “This will address the needs and concerns of all constituencies.”

Through Winchester, De Fanti and Sagansky have financed several films, including “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

Branch Sale

In an effort to keep its franchise California-centric, OneWest Bank has sold a Dallas branch to Houston’s Green Bank.

OneWest, the Pasadena savings and loan created from the assets of failed IndyMac Bancorp, added the Dallas location in February when it acquired La Jolla Bank, which was closed by regulators.

As part of the deal, Green Bank will assume the deposits at the Dallas branch. Financial terms were not disclosed.

OneWest has 73 branches located entirely in Southern California.

C-Suite News

Manhattan Bancorp, the El Segundo holding company for Bank of Manhattan, announced that Deepak Kumar has resigned as chief executive for undisclosed reasons less than eight months after assuming the post. Harry Chenoweth, a founding member of the bank’s board, was appointed interim chief executive until a permanent replacement is found. … Saehan Bancorp, the Koreatown parent of Saehan Bank, announced that Dong Il Kim was hired as chief executive, replacing Chung Youk, who stepped down Oct. 22. … Bankrupt FirstFed Financial Corp. announced that attorney Carl McKinzie has been appointed chief executive. FirstFed, the former holding company for First Federal Bank of California, filed for bankruptcy protection after federal regulators seized the savings and loan in December. The company, which no longer has any banking operations, is disposing of remaining assets through the bankruptcy process.

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

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