Editor’s note: Local Tech Wire features a profile of a venture capital or investment firm each business day. Launched four years ago by buyout firm Geneva Corp. as a private equity fund, Geneva Merchant Banking Partners provides capital investments and advisory services in a wide range of sectors, from light manufacturing to services to technology.

Geneva is a sister company to Blue Ridge Investors and seeks later-stage investments.

With $100 million under management, Geneva invests up to $5 million in its portfolio companies, in the form of subordinated debt, preferred stock, common stock or equity-linked senior debt. Its partners are active on the boards of directors of its portfolio companies, using their more than 100 years of combined financial and managerial experience to provide assistance to operating management.

Geography is not a consideration in Geneva’s portfolio, which has included companies from Seattle to Dallas to Florida. The portfolio includes Internet service provider Broadband Now!, digital broadcasting service operators Direct Digital Communications and ParaComm, software developer YieldStar Technology and high-speed fiber-optic system manufacturer OnePath Networks.

Here’s the skinny:

Featured Firm: Geneva Merchant Banking Partners

Mailing address: 300 N. Greene St., Suite 2100, Greensboro, NC 27401

Phone number: (336) 275-7002

Web site: www.genevamerchantbank.com

Management Team:

F. James Becher, Jr.
Thomas L. Minick
Russell R. Myers
Kevin B. Jessup
Ronald M. Stanley, Jr.

Focus of firm: Geneva Merchant Banking Partners is a North Carolina limited liability company, organized to realize capital gains through investments in the securities of companies offering opportunities for rapid growth or equity appreciation. Geneva Merchant Banking Partners goal is to achieve an overall rate of return in excess of 30 percent per annum on its invested capital.

Size of current fund: $75 million

Money under management: $100 million

Companies funded over the last five years:

Aerosol Specialties
Back of the Net
US Supply Co.
Boots and Coots Group
Broadband Now!
Direct Digital Communications
OnePath Networks
ParaComm, Inc.
Pilot Home Technologies
YieldStar Technology
Surfaces Unlimited, Inc.

How many new deals do you expect to fund in 2002: Eight to 10

In what size range: $500,000 to $5 million

Sweet Spot (types of deals, stage of the company): Preferred stock, junior secured sub-debt, later-stage growth capital, LBO and MBO.

Most important attributes for companies seeking funding: Management experience, market values up to $50 million.

What differentiates you: The managing partners of Geneva Merchant Banking Partners are active on the boards of at least one of the Geneva Group of Companies, which include Geneva Corp. and the Blue Ridge Investors Limited Partnership. In addition, they have distinguished themselves by investing capital effectively and prudently while achieving highly attractive returns for investors. They have over 100 years of combined experience in structuring and financing a broad range of corporate transactions and in corporate management.

Note: previous profiles can be found by going to Search, selecting the Venture Watch category, and setting the date parameters between Feb. 1 and today.