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OCBJ INSIDER

NextGen Healthcare and First Foundation each previously shared a common HQ base at Irvine’s Lakeshore office complex along Von Karman Avenue, then each opted to relocate their HQs out of state in 2021.

NextGen (Nasdaq: NXGN) initially moved its HQ designation to Atlanta, though now it calls itself a “remote-first” operation without a true HQ.

First Foundation (Nasdaq: FFWM) shifted its HQ to Dallas, as CEO Scott Kavanaugh, who also made the move, looked to grab more business in the Lone Star State. The bank and wealth manager still has a base of operations at the Lakeshore complex just off the 405 freeway; last year it renewed its lease there for 72,000 square feet.

Now the two firms share another commonality: proxy battles.

Abbott Cooper, founder and managing member of NY hedge fund Driver Management Co., is pushing for changes to the board of First Foundation, whose shares are off some 40% over the past year.

“The business looks like a train wreck, and the management team looks like it’s in disarray,” Cooper told the Dallas Business Journal this month. The bank’s seen a string of exec departures since November, including President David DePillo, CFO Kevin Thompson and COO Lindsay Lawrence.

Cooper wants “homegrown” Texans with financial services experience added to the bank’s board and says First Foundation “needs Texas-based members with connections to high-net-worth individuals,” according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.

“I have little confidence that Scott Kavanaugh and his management team (as currently constituted) is capable of repositioning FFWM under the best of circumstances, let alone while simultaneously facing a proxy fight,” Cooper said in a letter to the bank’s board on Jan. 17, when pushing for the board changes.

The bank’s troubles with Cooper could yet end amicably, as seen in the case of NextGen, where founder Shelly Razin eventually made peace with its board after a 2021 proxy battle, according to Chairman Jeff Margolis.

For more on the local legacy of Razin, who died Jan. 15 at age 85, see Peter J. Brennan’s front-page story.

NextGen, founded in 1974 as Quality Systems Inc., was never likely to leave town when the ocean-loving Razin headed the firm; his leisure pursuits included snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and swimming, in addition to tennis.

Razin, who lived along the water in Laguna Beach, often swam along the coast from his house near Agate Street to the Surf & Sand Hotel a couple blocks away, he told the Business Journal in 2009 after he won an Excellence in Entrepreneurship award.

Santa Ana’s Banc of California (NYSE: BANC) in 2016 approved a 15-year, $100 million deal to have its name on a new $350 million soccer stadium built in Los Angeles near USC; it was then a record-setting deal for a soccer facility in the U.S.

That marketing agreement was also among the first things to go when new CEO Jared Wolff took over in 2019. It paid a reported $20 million termination fee to get out of the deal, though it was still called Banc of California Stadium until this month.

Canadian bank BMO last week announced it had taken over naming rights for the stadium. Terms are 10 years and $100 million, a new record, according to reports.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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