Magazine article American Banker

Imperial Integration Done, Comerica Eyes Calif. Share

Magazine article American Banker

Imperial Integration Done, Comerica Eyes Calif. Share

Article excerpt

With its conversion of Imperial Bancorp completed ahead of schedule, Comerica Bank-California is now looking to build market share in the competitive urban markets of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

"Our primary focus is to bring market share up in the markets we are in," said Michael Fulton, the president of Detroit-based Comerica Inc. state-chartered subsidiary. "We have retained customers and key employees."

Comerica Bank-California, the state's fourth-largest bank, has market shares of about 10% in Los Angeles, 5% in San Diego, 15% in the South Bay section near San Francisco, and 10% in the northern San Francisco region.

But some characteristics of the Inglewood-based Imperial's business brought unique challenges to Comerica, which has a strong emphasis on small-business lending. Imperial, which had a history of high-risk lending to the film industry, struggled with growing problem loans in its portfolio.

The company had expected the conversion to be completed in the first quarter, but it announced this month that the job was done.

Shortly after Comerica acquired Imperial in January in a $1.3 billion stock deal, executives reviewed Imperial's loan portfolio and imposed Comerica's underwriting standards. As a result, the company reported early this year that Imperial had lost $22 million in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Comerica has increased its loan-loss provision since the start of the year by $25 million to account for credit losses, and it announced plans in May to cut 350 Imperial jobs.

That led some to question the wisdom of the deal, which Comerica still firmly defends, a softening economy notwithstanding. While it remains focused on making sure the newly integrated operations function smoothly, it is open to the idea of buying again to build on its position in California, where it has $12 billion of assets and $10 billion of deposits. …

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