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Updated: 15 hours 55 min ago

Western Asset Names Portfolio Managers for Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Team

Sat, 2019-03-23 06:19

Greg Handler and Harris Trifon

Pasadena-based Western Asset Management Company has named portfolio managers Greg Handler, and Harris Trifonco, heads of its mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities (MBS/ABS) team, a report in the financial industry publication City Wire Selector said March 19.

In their new roles, Handler and Trifon will oversee Western Asset’s investment team across all sub-sectors of structured credit, including residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, and asset-backed securities, both in securitized and whole loan form, the report said.

Handler and Trifon have also joined Western Asset’s U.S. broad strategy committee and will be responsible for applying the company’s macro views across the strategies managed by the mortgage- and asset-backed team.

The two portfolio managers report to deputy chief investment officer Michael Buchanan.

Western Asset Management is a subsidiary of Legg Mason. According to its financial reports as of December 31, 2018, Western Asset, whose offices are at 385 East Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, had $429.1 billion in assets under management.


Kitchen United Unveils New Restaurant Partners at Pasadena Location

Sat, 2019-03-23 05:46

Pasadena-based Kitchen United's CEO, Jim Collins

Kitchen United, the GV-backed start-up creating a new way for restaurant brands to expand via off-premise optimized kitchen centers, today announced The Halal Guys and Wetzel’s Pretzels have established operations at the company’s Pasadena kitchen center. The company has also debuted Fresgo, its own fast and fresh Italian offering that is now serving out of Pasadena. The Halal Guys and Fresgo are now available for pickup, delivery and catering from the off-premise kitchen space, with Wetzel’s Pretzels officially opening April 1.

Kitchen United’s Pasadena kitchen center opened last year and is also home to Canter’s Deli, AmazeBowls, chEAT Day, Grilled Cheese Heaven, Mama Musubi and The Pizza Plant. In addition to the Halal Guys and Wetzel’s Pretzels, Fresgo joins the lineup and will serve authentic Italian paninis, salads, pasta and more. The concept was born out of a desire to serve as a committed partner to its restaurant clients, and as a result will share data and learnings from Fresgo in order to help its restaurant brands maximize their experience with Kitchen United.

“One of Kitchen United’s goals from the beginning has been to leverage our collective restaurant experience to help our restaurant partners take a leadership position in delivery, a fast emerging growth opportunity in the industry,” said Jim Collins, Chief Executive Officer of Kitchen United. “As a team of restauranteurs, we are thrilled to launch Fresgo in order to provide valuable insight and learnings to our partners. We are very pleased to add The Halal Guys and Wetzel’s Pretzels to our family of restaurant partners in order to help them expand their reach into the Pasadena market.”

“As a brand that started as a food cart in NYC, we know firsthand the value of providing an off-premise experience for our customers,” said Thomas Pham, CEO, Halal or Nothing, a franchisee of The Halal Guys. “As we continue to grow our footprint, the addition of a delivery and takeout only kitchen made perfect sense for us as we seek out ways to bring our food directly to our consumer in a convenient way.”

“As a Pasadena-based company, we’re excited to partner with Kitchen United to bring pretzels to the people, delivering fans a delicious experience wherever, and whenever they crave it,” said Jennifer Schuler, CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels. “Kitchen United is bringing a revolutionary approach to capitalizing on consumer trends toward delivery and being a place where restaurants, from start-ups to long established brands, can navigate this changing foodservice landscape, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

To celebrate its newest additions in Pasadena, Kitchen United will be hosting a complimentary tasting celebration on March 28 at its Pasadena Kitchen Center from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Kitchen United is expanding across the U.S. with kitchen centers open in Pasadena and Chicago, and new kitchen centers slated to open this year in Atlanta, Columbus, Austin and Scottsdale. The company plans to end the year with 15 kitchen centers open, each housing between 10 and 20 restaurant brands that will power their delivery operations through Kitchen United.

About Kitchen United

Kitchen United is a GV-backed virtual kitchen company that provides restaurant operators with a value-driven, low-risk way to enter into new markets, grow revenue through off-premise dining and expand delivery areas by removing barriers such as capital or technology challenges. Each Kitchen United kitchen center is home to approximately 10 to 20 restaurant partners who leverage the company’s expertise to grow their business. For additional information, please visit:

Pasadena’s BallerTV: You Don’t Have to Miss Your Kid’s Game After All

Thu, 2019-03-21 05:47

Pasadena-based BallerTV co-founders Aaron Hawkey, Robert Angarita and Sandeep Hingorani. Courtesy photo

BallerTV could serve as the chamber of commerce’s poster child for what can happen for tech start-ups in Pasadena.

BallerTV offers families, coaches and tutors the option to view their high schooler or club-aged athlete’s amateur game streamed live through its app.

The start-up is not the first rodeo for co-founders Aaron Hawkey, Robert Angarita and Sandeep Hingorani, whose pedigree includes creation of Pasadena-based Cramster, an online study community for college students, later acquired by Chegg.

“We love Pasadena for the amazing resources it has to pull from and that’s Caltech and ArtCenter,” said Hawkey in a March 20 interview. The company has 10 founding team members and five of them are Caltech engineers, he said.

Cramster, Hawkey noted, was built and sustained in Pasadena for eight years and grew into something special. “I think Pasadena’s a hidden gem in the start-up world in terms of talent.”

After the sale of Cramster, these young turks were in the enviable position of asking themselves what they next wanted to do next with their lives, and able to make the rare decision to work in something they liked, sports.

Said Hawkey: “We saw Facebook Live and Periscope taking off and were like, wow, nobody has a live streaming app just for sports.”

The trio were also in a position to finance the start-up on their own and they did so, again, in Pasadena. It took 18 months to develop the app and network of videographers.

“The technology is there so that anyone who knows how to use Instagram can be a half-decent sports videographer,” said Hawkey. “And then we have an unlimited number of parents who want to see their kids play. We paired those two together and since then it has gone crazy.”

Once the partners were sure they had found product-market fit, institutional investors were brought in to muscle up the operation, specifically the venture capital firm Peak Ventures.

The primary focus is on amateur youth sports, under the age of 18, Hawkey explained. On athletes that play high school or club sports who may have a desire to continue on in college or even beyond.

“Our product is all about connecting families,” said Hawkey. “The parent of a 17-year old still wants to stay connected with their kid. So they and the grandparents and aunts and uncles can get access to the game live. That’s really our primary benefit.”

The games are streamed live at and archived for post-event viewing as well. Users can subscribe to the channel for $90 a year, or pay for events separately.

“Maybe you can’t be at every single game and you’re at the bank and we send you a text message on your phone saying, ‘Hey, your kid just went live.’ You tap the link and there you go,” he explained.

The company has thousands of videographers nationwide that record games once BallerTV has approached the most competitive events in a geographic area and arranged to broadcast them.

The goal is an on-demand model that assures a parent or coach never misses a game and, as such, Hawkey said, the surface is hardly being scratched in terms of what needs to be covered.

“I played basketball at La Salle High School and I don’t have a single moment of my career archived anywhere,” said Hawkey, “I’d like to think we are archiving some of the most important moments in kids’ and families’ lives.”

Local Pharmaceutical Developer, Hoping For Another Success, Applies to FDA for Trial Testing of Gene-Silencing Drug

Tue, 2019-03-19 06:30

Pasadena-based Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, just five months after it announced a license and collaboration agreement a Johnson & Johnson with a potential value of over $3.7 billion, said Monday it has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test its potentially curative gene-silencing drug for hepatitis-B infection.

Specifically, the company announced its submission of an Investigational New Drug application for the subcutaneously administered RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic ARO-AAT.

“We look forward to initiating this trial and moving closer to potentially providing patients, physicians, and the alpha-1 community with a much-needed therapy for alpha-1 liver disease,” said Dr. Bruce Given, Arrowhead’s chief operating officer and head of research and development.

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is developing ARO-AAT as a treatment for a rare genetic liver disease associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), a company announcement Monday said.

AATD, characterized by the lack of a protein made by the liver that’s released into the bloodstream, is a genetic disease that can affect the liver or lung.

Pending regulatory review, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals said it intends to initiate the adaptive design Phase 2/3 study of ARO-AAT in patients with AATD-associated liver disease.

The primary objectives of the study are to evaluate the drug’s safety and pharmacodynamic dose response and to evaluate its efficacy.

Arrowhead intends to initiate the study at various sites in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019, followed by various international sites in Europe. The company plans to provide additional study details as soon as the study begins.

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, whose corporate offices are at 225 South Lake Avenue, Suite 1050 in Pasadena, develops medicines that treat intractable diseases by silencing the genes that cause them.

Using a broad portfolio of RNA chemistries and efficient modes of delivery, Arrowhead therapies trigger the RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism to induce rapid, deep, and durable knockdown of target genes. The mechanism, present in living cells, inhibits the expression of a specific gene, thereby affecting the production of a specific protein – a natural pathway of gene silencing.
For more information, visit