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Imperial Capital seeks to raise $150 million in IPO

October 23, 2009|Tom Petruno

Boutique investment banking firm Imperial Capital Group Inc. has filed to go public, hoping to tap investors' improved appetite for new stock issues.

In a preliminary prospectus, the Century City firm proposed to raise as much as $150 million in a deal that would allow management to cash out a portion of its ownership stake.

But besides that, and paying off a $10-million credit line, Imperial said it hadn't decided what to do with the money it would raise, other than use it for general corporate purposes.

The IPO market has thawed considerably in the last two months, tempting companies looking to raise capital. Twenty IPOs have come to market since Sept. 15, compared with 21 in the previous 8 1/2 months, according to IPO research firm Renaissance Capital.

Founded in 1997, Imperial Capital was a unit of Imperial Credit Industries before becoming a stand-alone business. Imperial Credit, a Southland financial firm spun off from the old Imperial Bancorp (now part of Comerica Inc.), filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003.

Imperial Capital runs banking, trading and research businesses. Its investment banking unit targets middle-market companies. The firm recently advised American Greetings Corp. on its purchase of Recycled Paper Greetings.

The research unit covers businesses including clean energy, aerospace and gambling.

Imperial says it has been profitable every year since 1999, but it remains a small player. The firm earned $9.6 million in the first half of this year on revenue of $59.4 million.

If the IPO gets done, Jason Reese, the firm's 44-year-old chief executive, and Randall Wooster, 49, Imperial's president, would retain voting control of the company via their Class B share holdings.

The prospectus doesn't say how much Reese and Wooster would cash out.

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tom.petruno@latimes.com

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