Pritzker Empire Acquiring 40% of Diagnostic Ventures

Times Staff Writer

The Pritzker family empire, one of the nation's wealthiest private business operations and owners of controlling interests in Hyatt Corp. and Braniff Airlines, is in the process of acquiring a 40% stake in Diagnostic Ventures Inc., a Newport Beach medical equipment-leasing service, the company said Monday.

The company said a trust and a business associated with the Chicago-based Pritzker operation purchased on the open market a total of 200,000 shares of Diagnostic Ventures common stock and warrants to purchase an additional 100,000 shares. The purchase price was not revealed.

In addition, the company said some of its officers, whom it declined to identify, have agreed to sell an additional 1 million shares of the company to Pritzker.

Diagnostic Ventures Chairman and President David Higgins declined to explain how his tiny, 18-month-old company came to the attention of the Pritzker empire. "It's not a new relationship between the company and the family," he said. Pritzker representatives declined to comment.

However, Higgins did say that the Pritzker stock purchase is not expected to have any immediate effect in the company's daily operations. The buyers, he added, have not asked for seats on the board of directors.

But, in a separate development, the company said investors Gerald L. Cohn and Sid Luckman are expected to be elected directors of the company.

Cohn, a private investor in the company from North Miami Beach, Fla., is a director, chairman of the board and treasurer of BCP Collateral Funding Corp. Cohn also serves as a director of Hazleton, Pa., National Bank.

Luckman is a former professional football player.

Founded in July, 1985, Diagnostic Ventures became a publicly held company last November. In its first partial year of operation, ended July 30, 1986, the company had net income of $135,000 on revenues of $685,000. For the first fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, the company earned about $63,500 on revenues of $213,000.

Although Higgins declined to reveal the specifics of the deal with Pritzker, filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in November show that insiders were expected to hold about 20% of the company's shares after the public offering.

Among the insiders are Higgins, who was to own 17.4% of the stock after the offering, and company treasurer Maurice Lathouwers Jr., with 1.1%. Also, directors William Ingles of Glendale and Benjamin Levy of Virginia Beach, Va., with 0.3% each, and vice president William Healy of Nashua, N. H., with 1.1%.

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