Editor’s note: Local Tech Wire profiles an investment or venture capital firm each day. Matthew Burns, Worth Civils and Daniel Pearson compiled the series. Its roots may be in Motown, but Comerica Bank has gotten behind technology companies in a big way in recent years.

The financial services firm has active subsidiaries in California and Texas, and it bought Los Angeles-based Imperial Bank, which had a technology lending office in Durham, two years ago for $1.2 billion.

Comerica is among the largest financial institutions in the country, with assets of $50 billion, and it ranks in the Top 20 in small business lending nationally. For information technology and life sciences startups, the bank provides cash management services and loans for equipment purchases and working capital that are backed by warrants that can later be converted to equity.

Although Comerica doesn’t provide names of its clients, companies in the Carolinas and Georgia that acknowledge a relationship with the bank include Unitive in the Research Triangle area and Novient, Click Tactics and MicroCoating Technologies, all of Atlanta. Nationwide, the bank has more than 2,000 clients.

Here’s the skinny:

Featured Firm: Comerica Bank

Mailing address: 4309 Emperor Blvd., Suite 100, Durham, NC 27703 (Research Triangle office); Two Ravinia Drive, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA 30346 (Atlanta office)

Phone number: (919) 932-8000 (Research Triangle office); (770) 913-3072 (Atlanta office)

Web site: www.comerica.com

Management team:

Kenneth F. Clark, III (Research Triangle office)
Gary W. Andreson (Atlanta office)

Focus of firm: Early-stage and later-stage technology and life sciences companies. Specialized banking practice conducted through 19 offices nationwide.

Size of current fund: Not applicable

Money under management: Not applicable

Companies financed over the last five years:

Over 2,000 client companies nationwide.

Number of deals expected in 2002: NA

In what size range: Minimum $1 million for financing transactions.

Sweet spot (types of deals, stage of the company): Senior debt financing for both early-stage and expansion/later-stage technology and life sciences companies backed by professional equity investors.

Most important attributes for companies seeking financing: Experienced investors and management team.

What differentiates you: Willingness to lend money to start-up stage companies. National network of venture capital relationships. Institutional knowledge of and experience with the financing needs of early-stage technology and life sciences companies.

Friday’s profile: Early Investors Group

Previous profiles can be found by going to Search, selecting the Venture Watch category.