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OC Insider: Undercover Skyscraper

Irvine Co. is known for going about its business quietly. Perhaps the best example of the real estate owner’s understated method of operations was seen in 2015, when news broke that the firm was the main owner of N.Y.’s famed MetLife Building, one of Manhattan’s best-known skyscrapers.

Remarkably, Irvine Co. had counted an ownership stake in the building for nearly a decade by that point, with the Newport Beach-based firm’s involvement in the property somehow managing to remain under the radar, even while increasing its stake for the 58-story tower—now reportedly valued around $3B—over the subsequent years.

News on the building’s ownership only broke when documents related to a refinancing of the property were made public in 2015.

The firm that Irvine Co. took over majority ownership of the MetLife building from was N.Y.’s Tishman Speyer, which has just made its own unexpected investment in OC’s real estate market: see Kaitlin Aquino’s front-page story on the firm’s $146M buy of land at the Great Park Neighborhoods, for what’s likely to be Irvine’s biggest industrial project in years.
For more on Irvine Co.’s latest big leasing win at the MetLife Building, see page 8.

The largest traditional IPO for an OC-based company in 2023 was for Irvine’s Shimmick Corp. (Nasdaq: SHIM). The water infrastructure construction firm raised a modest $18.5M in proceeds from its November listing.

That’s a far cry from the banner year of 2021, when nearly a dozen area companies had IPOs, led by Rivian Automotive’s record-breaking listing (Nasdaq: RIVN) that brought in some $13.7B in proceeds.

With the market for new IPOs still in the doldrums, no wonder that Allied Universal’s Steve Jones isn’t rushing to make it to Wall Street; see Peter J. Brennan’s front-page feature for more on the near-term plans of the world’s largest private security firm.

Irvine chipmaker Mobix Labs used the SPAC route to make it to Wall Street; the firm in late December traveled to NYC in preparation for its Nasdaq listing (Nasdaq: MOBX), and ended up adding nearly $20M in cash to its balance sheet; see the front page for more.
The SPAC route worked, says former Microsemi boss ‘Jimmy P’ Peterson, who is Mobix’s executive chairman.

“I’m very satisfied with the management team and their focus to complete our IPO,” Peterson told the Business Journal. “The process we chose proved successful.
“The strategy and vision are to create the next multibillion-dollar market cap OC-based technology company,” said Peterson of Mobix, whose valuation currently sits around $90M.

Allied Universal, with annual sales of $20.5B, and tech distribution giant Ingram Micro, which has annual revenue close to $50B, are OC’s top 2 private companies by sales. And each Irvine-based firm has their eyes on an IPO when market conditions improve.
So does Irvine’s CG Oncology, an upstart clinical biopharmaceutical company that’s reported just $25M in research and collaboration revenue since its inception.

CG Oncology filed paperwork with the SEC for an IPO on Jan. 2, making it the first company in the U.S. to file a registration statement to go public this year. For more on the company’s plans, see next week’s print edition of the Business Journal.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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