FINANCE : Investment Banking Firms Continue Joint Venture But Give Up on Merger

Compiled by James S. Granelli, Times staff writer

Two Orange County investment banking companies that acted for awhile as if they wanted to merge now say they will continue to work together through a joint venture but have no intention of becoming one company.

Larry Friend and Michael Danzi said their companies will work on major deals, like the effort to sell a minority shareholder’s stock in the Irvine Co., through a division of L.H. Friend, Weinress & Frankson Inc.

But Friend and Danzi said each company will continue to operate separately. Danzi, whose Danzi Capital Group rents space in L.H. Friend’s Irvine office, manages the ongoing joint venture, called L.H. Friend-Danzi Capital Partners.


“There probably was an intent that down the road we might merge, but who knows,” Friend said. “As we work together, we find that it’s better this way.”

Danzi said that any merger idea is “not going to happen.” He said the industry may have started talking after he changed the name of his index of Orange County companies from the Friend-Danzi Index back to the Danzi Index.

“Larry wanted to get involved with the index, so I added his name to the index,” Danzi said. “But he decided later he didn’t want to stay involved. So I took his name off.”

Meanwhile, Friend-Danzi Partners is continuing to peddle the 5% stake in the Irvine Co. owned by Howard P. Marguleas. The stock is believed to be worth $94 million.

A deal is expected to be announced by the end of summer, but the partners would not confirm anything. “The last time we said anything, the Securities and Exchange Commission came in and asked us why we were in the newspaper,” Danzi said.

However, he stood by an earlier statement that the deal should be completed by the end of the year.