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07/15/2002 – [Orange County Business Journal] CB Capital Partners Launches Newport Beach based Investment Bank

Publication: Orange County Business Journal
Author: Rajiv Vyas

NEWPORT BEACH (July 15, 2002) – CB Capital Partners LLC has teamed up with a Pasadena brokerage to try their hands at their own investment bank.

Newport Beach-based C.B. Capital Partners LLC, started by Christopher Baclawski, is working with Pasadena-based Ascher Decision Services Inc. to offer investment banking services to small and midsize companies.

The joint venture, which doesn't have a formal name yet, plans to focus on mergers and acquisitions, fundraising and financial advice for companies on the West Coast.

The venture already is working on a couple of deals. Its partners say they are working on securing $200 million in funding for a planned management buyout of an unnamed Southland public company. They say they're also working on valuations and fundraising for Los Angeles consumer electronics maker Lasonic Electronics Corp.

"This is an excellent time to start a new investment banking firm," said Baclawski, founder and managing director of C.B. Capital. "The consolidation that has been occurring in the middle market investment banking arena has created a void."

That doesn't mean the new venture won't face plenty of competition, including from more established rivals including Roth, Irvine-based L.H. Friend, Weinress, Frankson & Presson LLC and Los Angeles investment banks The Seidler Cos., Barrington Associates, Greiff & Co. and others.

"Sure-we won't get big investment banking deals," said Stephen Ascher, president of Ascher Decision Service. "But the overall M&A activity is up. And there are very few players catering to the middle market segment."

There is some prior link between C.B. Capital and Ascher-call it six degrees of investment banking. Ascher's son, Stephen Ascher Jr., founded Sideout Sport and is an executive vice president with Sideout's parent, Van Nuys-based Cherokee Inc. At one time, Sideout used Roth for investment banking.

The new venture comes at a tough time for investment banks. Roth Capital, for one, has laid off some senior bankers and pared back its stock brokerage operation. L.H. Friend also recently let an analyst go from its stock brokerage operation.

"Everybody knows that this is a tough market," said Christopher Halloran, managing director at L.H. Friend. "It is a difficult time to start a new investment bank. But given the right circumstances it can be done."

The new venture's biggest challenge, according to Halloran: establishing credibility.

Ascher Decision Services dates back some 20 years. Until recently, the firm was focused on marketing mutual funds to retail investors. Ascher said he plans to fold his brokerage operation into the new venture. For now, the venture is a three-member team where everyone is wearing multiple hats. Baclawski said he plans to hire bankers as the need arises.

Copyright 2001 Orange County Business Journal - July 15, 2002