May 6, 2020

Briefcase – May 2020


Heska closes $110M acquisition of European vet diagnostics company

LOVELAND — Veterinary diagnostics company Heska Corp. (Nasdaq: HSKA) closed its purchase of the European arm of competitor Covetrus Inc. (Nasdaq: CVET) for $110 million the first week of April, saving $15 million from the original purchase price.

Heska announced the deal in mid-January, originally saying it would pay $125 million for Scil animal care company GmbH, which would give it 40% control over the veterinary diagnostics markets in Germany and Spain and a third of France’s market.

Heska paid for the deal via preferred stock issuances to a consortium of four investment groups, which could increase the company’s shares outstanding figure by 19 percent.

Scil has offices in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Heska now estimates it has more than 500 employees worldwide.

Exxel Outdoors acquires Compass 360

BROOMFIELD — Outdoor-recreation company Exxel Outdoors LLC has completed its acquisition of Compass 360 in the third week of April, a Huntsville, Alabama-based outdoor apparel and gear company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Compass 360 produces wade-wear, outerwear, rainwear and camo-wear for fishing, hunting, camping and other outdoor activities. Exxel said the addition of Compass 360 would bolster its ability to retain jobs at its Broomfield headquarters and at its Reno, Nevada, distribution center, as well creating future growth opportunities.The Compass 360 product assortment will join Exxel’s Hunt/Fish/Camp business unit, complementing the company’s current brand offerings.

Boulder completes $8M purchase of Shanahan Ranch

BOULDER — The city of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks completed the $8 million acquisition of Shanahan Ranch in the second week of April.

The city first eyed the 179-acre property in 1967, when Boulder became first in the nation to approve a tax to buy and maintain open space. The property lies south of the city and west of Colorado Highway 93.

The sellers were Lynn Shanahan, the great-great-grandson of the original 1863 homesteader, and his wife, Sandi Shanahan. The Boulder City Council approved the acquisition in December 2019.

In the agreement, the city will lease back the property to the Shanahans for the next five years.

KPA acquires safety training company

LAFAYETTE — KPA LLC, a Lafayette-based compliance and risk-management software firm, announced in April the acquisition of Multimedia Training Systems Inc., a Pittsburgh developer of workplace safety videos for the manufacturing industry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“MTS is a tremendous fit for KPA,” KPA CEO Chris Fanning said in a prepared statement. “We share a similar vision, culture, and mission for helping our clients improve their safety programs and save lives.”

The acquisition will not alter day-to-day business operations for either entity. MTS will still operate out of its existing offices in Pittsburgh.

Private equity firm acquires Boulder’s TrueCoach

BOULDER — Just months after it acquired fellow Boulder-based fitness app Zingfit, private equity firm Advent International Corp. has acquired the personal coaching app TrueCoach.

In a statement, Boulder-based TrueCoach said it is joining the roster of companies owned by Transaction Services Group, a holding company for fitness and gym customer management apps.

TSG is majority-owned by Advent International, a private equity firm with more than $54 billion in assets under management as of last June.

TrueCoach co-founder and CEO Casey Jenks will remain at the helm of the company, while fellow co-founder and chief marketing officer Robbie Jack will take a role managing marketing for all of TSG’s portfolio.


Macy’s sells Fort Collins building to Foothills developer for $5.5M

FORT COLLINS — Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) sold its department store in the Fort Collins Foothills Mall last month to one of the private equity firms that led the mall’s redevelopment in the early part of the previous decade. Purchase price was $5.5 million.

A subsidiary of Chicago-based Walton Street Capital LLC purchased on April 15 the property that contains the 128,550-square-foot building and parking lot at 235 Foothills Pkwy., according to Larimer County property records. Assessors last valued the property at $4.5 million. In a statement, Macy’s said the company has now signed a lease on the building and plans to continue operating there as normal.

Developers break ground on 146,000-square-foot flex building in Louisville CTC

LOUISVILLE — A Denver real estate firm has broken ground on an additional 146,320-square-foot building in Louisville’s Colorado Technology Center.

In a prepared statement, Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners said it broke ground for the property at 725 Tech Court just off Dillon Road and across from a building leased entirely by hemp product maker Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc.

Etkin Johnson declined to specify the projected cost for the new building’s construction.

The new building would complete a trio of projects dubbed the “Louisville Corporate Campus” spanning just about 400,000 square feet of industrial and flex space in the central part of the park’s southern portion.

The project is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2021.

California investment firm buys apartments near UNC for $12.9M

GREELEY — A California investment firm has purchased the Bears Village Apartment complex near the University of Northern Colorado campus for $12.9 million.

Novato, California-based Black Point Capital LP purchased the seven-building, 98-unit apartments complex located just north of Jackson Field on the UNC campus from Windsor-based SC Rentals, according to a press release from broker Unique Properties Inc. The deal amounts to $131,632.65 per unit and $193.58 per square foot.

Weld County assessors last valued the property at $8.1 million, according to property-transfer records. UNC previously owned the apartments but sold it to SC Rentals in 2017 for $7.1 million.

King Soopers applies to redevelop Fort Collins Kmart

FORT COLLINS — King Soopers has applied to demolish the former Kmart site at the corner of South College Avenue and West Drake Road and build a new 123,722-square-foot grocery store. According to preliminary design documents submitted to Fort Collins city planners, King Soopers said it would replace the former Radio Shack building at the northeast corner with a fueling station and demolish the Loaf n’ Jug just west of the intersection to make way for a future retail pad site. King Soopers, which is owned by grocery giant Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), previously submitted plans to redevelop the site in 2016 but allowed that application to expire. Kroger purchased the property through a subsidiary for $8 million in 2008, according to Larimer County property records.

Gateway First, High Country banks eye new NoCo, Boulder Valley locations

DENVER — High Country Bank and Gateway First Bank recently got the go-ahead from Colorado regulators to open new branches or loan production offices in Northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley. Salida-based High Country Bancorp., which has branches in Salida, Buena Vista and Cañon City, was approved by the Colorado Banking Board to open a new branch at 110 Main St. in Longmont. Previously known as Chaffee County Bank and Salida Building & Loan Association, High Country Bank has been around in one form or another since 1886, according to the bank’s website. The company employs about 70 people, has total assets of roughly $292 million and deposits of nearly $253 million, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.


Chuck E. Cheese abruptly moves out of midtown Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS — Long-time children’s party spot Chuck E. Cheese, which had been closed as a result of the novel coronavirus, has moved out of its midtown location in Fort Collins without notice to landlord or community. The restaurant and play place location was eventually going to be redeveloped, but the timing of the move-out was a surprise to the landlord, who had given the restaurant an extension on its lease.

FoCo fintech firm launches bill relief hub

FORT COLLINS — BillGo Inc. announced the week of April 20 the launch of  “an online hub that highlights financial institutions and companies offering payment relief to people impacted by COVID-19,” according to a company news release. BillGo’s Bill Pay Relief Hub is crowdsourced and allows both consumers and financial services firms to upload information. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the financial well-being of millions of U.S. consumers who are now faced with bills they cannot pay,” BillGo CEO Dan Holt said in a prepared statement. “We applaud the financial institutions and billers stepping up to help Americans through a variety of payment assistance programs, and we created the Bill Pay Relief Hub to be a centralized source of information about these efforts.”

Trilogy Networks hires COO

BOULDER — Trilogy Network Inc., a Boulder data-collection and internet-of-things (IoT) technology company, recently hired Nancy Shemwell to serve as the firm’s new chief operating officer.

Shemwell, according to a Trilogy news release, has held executive positions with several technology companies. She’s been the CEO of Vericlave Inc. and Jovial Test Equipment Inc., as well as chief operating officer at DataSpan Inc.

“Trilogy’s Rural Cloud Initiative spanning two million square miles of rural America will support enterprises with applications imperative to precision agriculture, energy production and automated manufacturing,” Shemwell said in a prepared statement.. “Having spent the past two years focused on IoT, I clearly understand the enormous value that Trilogy can unlock at the rural edge.”

Downtown Boulder office fetches $3.6M

BOULDER — An office building at 1735 15th St. in Boulder recently sold for $3.6 million. The seller of the roughly 7,300 square foot space is XYZ Corp., a Longmont entity registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office in 1975 by Donald James Poe. Poe Ventures LLC, a Boulder company registered to Donald Poe, bought the property, which is just a few blocks from the Pearl Street Mall. Poe’s firm People Productions Film and Video Services Inc. occupies the office space.


UCHealth opens COVID testing station at Aims

GREELEY — UCHealth has opened a COVID-19 specimen-collection drive-through center at Aims Community College’s Greeley campus in late April.The drive through will operate Monday through Friday 9 a.m. through  5 p.m. On Saturdays, it will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The designated facility can be accessed by the 16th Street campus entrance off of 47th Avenue. UCHealth labs administer testing in partnership with Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment and Aims. Lab results will be available 24 to 48 hours after collection, according to UCHealth.

Longmont to open golf courses; city hiring freeze stays

LONGMONT — Longmont has reopened its golf courses, which had been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boulder County’s health department gave the green light to open the links provided that a strict set of rules were followed. Social distancing would have to be observed, tee times — at 15-minute intervals — would have to be set up by phone with no clubhouse walk-ins, driving ranges would remain closed, no golf carts would be rented and private carts would be prohibited as well. Jim Golden, the city’s chief financial officer, had told Longmont officials that the city could take a $300,000 hit if the courses were closed for two months, but added that the balance in the municipal budget’s golf fund exceeds $1.2 million. Much of the city remains shut down, however.

Weld County to allow all businesses to restart, placing county against state policies

WELD COUNTY — The Weld County Board of Commissioners said it would allow any business to reopen beginning April 27 in defiance of Gov. Jared Polis’ tiered approach to restarting economic life in the state during the coronavirus pandemic, setting up a potential conflict between the county and state officials.

Weld County’s “Safer At Work” policy would allow any business in the county to reopen and place the onus on owners and customers to make sure they comply with social distancing and safety rules.

The title is a play on the Polis Administration’s “Safer At Home” guidelines that would allow certain individualized services such as tattoo parlors and hair salons to reopen, but continue to ban sit-down restaurant service and bars from operating.

Cities in Weld County are allowed to continue to restrict certain types of businesses from reopening within their own limits.

Johnstown opens micro-grant program for business

JOHNSTOWN — The town of Johnstown approved a micro grant program and began accepting applications April 21. The Small Business Micro Grant Program is designed to help small businesses in Johnstown during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program brings up to $10,000 of relief to individual small-business applicants, with the town appropriating $1,000,000 to fund the grants.

Small businesses can learn more about the program on the town’s website, where eligibility, the application and required supporting documents are listed. Processing applications is expected to take three days, with funds made available four days after that.

Longmont Leader news site to launch this spring, acquires Observer

LONGMONT — Longmont residents will have a new media player this spring when the digital-only Longmont Leader launches. The Leader is a product of McClatchy Newspapers Inc. (OTC-MNIQQ), a national news company based in California with 31 newspapers around the country. The Leader will be financed initially by the Google News Initiative’s Local Experiments Project, which has provided three-year financing to McClatchy for its Compass Experiment. McClatchy has acquired the Longmont Observer, a community-operated, free, nonprofit local news website run by volunteers. The Observer began operations after the Longmont Times-Call, the community daily, was acquired by Media News Group division Prairie Mountain Publishing, which later closed the local office and moved staff to the Boulder Daily Camera office in Boulder. The Leader, expected to begin operations in late May, will be the second of three community-centric digital publications around the country that are part of The Compass Experiment, which is described as a local news laboratory. The experiment will create three operations in small to mid-sized markets with two goals: To disseminate news and to make local operations financially sustainable.


Encision lands $600,000 in PPP funding

BOULDER — Medical device maker Encision Inc. (OTCMKTS: ECIA) said it received just under $600,000 in Payroll Protection Program funds to maintain its staffing levels. In a filing April 23, the Boulder company said it received $598,567 through Bank of America to rehire some of its employees. Encision produces tools to prevent stray electrical currents from burning the internal organs of surgical patients. It laid off four employees last summer after the ongoing U.S.-China trade war raised prices for steel and raw materials used to make the tools. It had 27 employees as of February.

Pharmaceuticals land $11M

Boulder-based Brickell Biotech Inc. (Nasdaq: BBI) partnered with investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. (NYSE: OPY) to sell up to $8 million in new stock to the open market. If sold at $1.16 per share, the maker of an anti-underarm sweating treatment would add more than 6.89 million shares to its current amount of 9.96 million shares outstanding, potentially diluting the stock value. Meanwhile, Boulder’s OnKure Inc. raised $3.26 million in a Series A-1 round, with $2 million of that in warrants for future stock sales. OnKure is beginning a Phase I trial for a cancer tumor growth inhibitor.

Boulder’s MBio lands additional $1.5M in defense funding for rapid infection testing

BOULDER — Mbio Diagnostics Inc. received an additional $1.55 million from the U.S. Department of Defense the second week of April to get a rapid infection testing device closer to federal approval. The Boulder-based company is developing a system to find specific biomarkers in a blood sample that would indicate the presence of a range of contagious diseases early in their incubation cycles. In an emailed statement, chief operating officer Michael Lochhead said the system could be used for testing for COVID-19, but it would test for the presence of a C-reactive protein caused by inflammation instead of current tests, which check for COVID-19’s RNA with a sample. MBio plans to file data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by March 2021.

McWhinney raises just under $4M for sixth Centerra industrial development

LOVELAND — The company behind the Centerra developments in Loveland has raised $3.99 million for another industrial building. McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc. raised the funds from nine investors via its subsidiary CIndustrial Six Investments LLC, according to a disclosure to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday. The subsidiary is registered to McWhinney general counsel Michael Warren and shares the same address as the developer’s Loveland headquarters. CIndustrial Six does not own any land in Larimer County, according to property records. McWhinney has previously used “CIndustrial” as monikers for entities through which it raises funds from investors to build industrial properties. McWhinney spokeswoman Celeste Smith confirmed the proceeds will be used to construct a new building next to the 123,000-square-foot warehouse leased to Amazon Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), just west of the I-25/Crossroads Boulevard interchange. Crews are expected to start laying the new structure’s foundation in the next several weeks.

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