The August collapse of Ventura-based Affinity Bank appears to be just one blow in a string of troubles for its owner, Stephen Adams, whose highly leveraged business empire faces more than $746 million in debt payments in coming years.
The Montecito businessman and philanthropist controls Ventura-based Affinity Group, a media and direct-marketing firm that targets recreational vehicle owners and employs more than 1,600 people nationwide. Between 2007 and 2008, Affinity Group swung from a $6.3 million profit to a $125.3 million loss, part of it an $81 million hit from writing down to zero an interest in a business that sold and financed recreational vehicles.
Affinity Group has missed interest payments on more than $114 million in debt for nearly two months, and Standard & Poor’s gave the bonds a junk rating. The Ventura firm is in talks with creditors to refinance or restructure its debts.