Solera Capital Takes Latina Media Stake

Paying $20 million for admission into the Hispanic market, Solera Capital LLC pushed aside company management and Essence Communications to carve out a majority share in Latina Media Ventures.

“Its growth rate, size and spending power makes [the Hispanic arena] an attractive, compelling marketplace,” said Molly Ashby, Solera’s chief executive officer. “It has the kind of characteristics as an investor you look for.”

Latin Media, publisher of Latina Magazine, a beauty guide for Latin women and the host of an online Latina community, had never before ventured into the private equity market. Company management, including founder Christy Haubegger and Essence Communications, the publishers of Essence Magazine, have owned and developed the company since its founding in 1996.

With 200,000 monthly subscribers and 70% year-over-year advertising growth, Solera plans to leverage the Latina brand into an integrated media model, encompassing the spectrum of broadcast, radio and Web-based media. It will also build a closet of licensed merchandise, and will move from its base in Los Angeles and New York into other major Latin markets within the next six months.

“This is a group of assets, advertisers and advertising relationships and we very much desire to take this to other media,” Ashby said.

Both Essence and Latina Media refused to comment on the deal.

For its part, Solera Capital is a New York-based venture firm operating undercover, unwilling to disclose either the amount of capital under management or the firm’s structure.

“Given the pain in the market, we were given some very strong advice not to be talking about that,” Ashby said.

Although the firm was formed a year-and-a-half ago, this is its first transaction. Solera is not defined by an industry-specific investment approach, Ashby said, but a research-intensive strategy that reaches into sectors undergoing change. Both Chase Capital Partners and Grove Street Advisors for CalPERS are investors in the fund.