Pacific Title gets new owners

Price tag $23 mil; chief Feiner out after 30 years

Pacific Title & Art Studio has been sold by holding company Safeguard Scientifics for $23 million to an investment group led by private-equity fund Celerity Partners, stage-venture capital firm Ticonderoga Capital and venture capitalist William Daniels.

Pacific Title president and CEO Phil Feiner, who had been with the company for nearly 30 years, has been dismissed, a move that stunned many in the industry.

Many who know Feiner describe him as synonymous with Pacific Title, a leading postproduction facility in Hollywood that was founded in 1919 by Leon Schlesinger of Warner Bros. Animation fame.

Feiner's projects included the creation of the company's digital imaging division in 1989. Last month, he and several colleagues were the recipients of an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Scientific and Engineering Award for the company's Rosetta digital film restoration process.

Feiner is a member of AMPAS' Scientific & Technical Committee, a member of the technology branch of the Academy, an associate member of ASC and its technology committee, an affiliate member of ACE, SMPTE and a member of Local 600 as a director of photography.

The new management team does consist of existing Pacific Title employees, including acting CEO David Miller, who was the company's executive in charge of sales; chief technology officer Andy Tran; CFO Greg Hunter; and vp sales Rick Sparr.

Daniels — who will chair the newly created board of directors to oversee Pacific Title — said of Feiner's departure, "His contract expired and so he was let go by Safeguard." Feiner and Safeguard could not be reached for comment.

Daniels said that Pacific Title will retain its name and team. "Other than Phil's departure, we don't see much changing," Daniels said. "It's a really well-run company with a great reputation in the industry. We are very excited to work with this group of talented people.

"Pacific Title has a great reputation in postproduction," he added.

When asked why the new owners did not try to retain Feiner, Daniels said, "Going with a broad-based management team was very appealing. We have a very experienced management team. … We're very comfortable with the management team we have in place."

Joining Daniels on the board of directors are Celerity managing partner Stephen Adamson and principal Allen Chi; the last two seats have not been filled.

"Safeguard is looking to deploy capital in innovative and attractive companies in market segments that are a reflection of our strategy to generate increased value for our shareholders," Safeguard president and CEO Peter Boni said of the sale. "While Pacific Title is a fine company led by a solid management team, the company is in a business segment that is no longer considered core to our strategy. This shift in our objectives was a key component in our decision to sell the company."

Safeguard first acquired an interest in Pacific Title in 1997.

Pacific Title began its historic life in Hollywood as a film titling lab. Its early titling credits include "The Jazz Singer," "Gone With the Wind" and "Ben-Hur."

Pacific Title Digital was formed in 1989. Today, the company's services include composting, 3-D CGI animation, title design, visual effects supervision, optical operations, large format services (65mm), digital trailers, digital intermediate services and restoration/preservation.