BREAKING NEWS: Utah's Top Ten Business Stories of Q3 2021

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I realized late last week that we had not yet analyzed and/or reported on the Top Stories of the third quarter of the year, which is something we shoot to do within the first 30 days after the end of a quarterly period.

So without further ado, here is our breakdown (in reverse order) of the Top 10 Business Stories of the Third Quarter of 2021 for Utah's business community, (aka, Silicon Slopes).

Utah's No. 10 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Utah's Role in Disrupting Amateur College Athletics through Name, Image and Likeness Deals at BYU and the UofU

If you are a fan of amateur collegiate athletics, July 1, 2021 should be indelibly burned into your consciousness forever.

For that is the day that the National Collegiate Athletic Association decided that student athletes across all three NCAA divisions could begin to financially benefit from their respective Name, Image, and Likeness. In other words, college athletes could begin to get paid ... legitimately ... all because of something known as NIL.

As reported by Silicon Slopes in early September in "How Name, Image, and Likeness Has Changed the Face of College Athletics Forever," Brigham Young University and the University of Utah are two of the more prominent universities leading out on helping their student athletes benefit from NIL.

Before the impact of the NIL saga is finally known, I expect that its implications will eventually generate billions of dollars of financial benefit to U.S. college athletes annually.

For this reason, this new reality ranks as the 10th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 9 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Roughly $3 Billion in AUM Changed Hands through One Decision

In August we got wind of a fairly significant, yet virtually non-reported, event in Provo with a pricetag of nearly $3 billion.

Specifically, we learned that Utah's top rated private wealth manager had opted to change ships and move his operations to Morgan Stanley from competitor Merrill Lynch.

As reported in "Nearly $3 Billion in Assets Under Management Just "Changed Hands" in Provo," Dane Runia of the eponymously named The Runia Group officially joined Morgan Stanley in the later part of August, taking with him (we believe) roughly $3 billion in client-AUM.

Dane Runia's LinkedIn profile picture as of 22 November 2021.

That is why this story is ranks as the 9th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 8 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Stealth Canned Beverage Firm Vobev Sets-up Shop in Salt Lake City

With scant details, little fanfare, and stealthy financial backers, Salt Lake City-based Vobev came out of the shadows in the third quarter of 2021, emerging, in many ways, as the national canned beverage story of the year.

Vobev's main manufacturing building in western Salt Lake City. Photo shot facing East-by Northeast on 19 August 2021 by the author from 5600 West.

As we described in the second half of September in "Vobev: The BevTech Manufacturing Startup Planning to Shake-up the Canned Beverage Industry,"

before we even chatted with its General Manager, Eric Cudnohoske, Vobev had already

  • Purchased 65 acres of land on the corner of Interstate 80 and 5600 West,
  • Erected two buildings with over 1.1 million square feet of space housing development, manufacturing, and logistics for the production of canned beverages, and
  • Lined-up over 20 customers (in mid-August), with
  • Operations slated to begin before 2022.

For these reasons and more, we have selected this BevTech startup as the 8th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 7 Business Story for Q3 2021:  HealthEquity Raises $600 Million in a Debt Offering

On the surface, even the title Debt Offering strikes most people as a bit esoteric or off-putting.

But when publicly traded HealthEquity announced a $500 million Debt Offering in late September, we took notice.

So esoteric or not, this planned fundraising qualified as the 7th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

{AUTHOR'S NOTE: Draper-based HealthEquity closed this Debt Offering in mid-October, raising $600 million, not $500 million as originally announced. And yes, I take the additional 20% in monies raised as being a good thing for the company and its investors.}

Utah's No. 6 Business Story for Q3 2021:  SLC-based Visible SCM Gets Bought for $838 Million

I suspect that most people had never heard of Visible Supply Chain Management before early August.

But when you give those same people over 800 million reasons to care, they tend to pay attention.

Hence, Salt Lake City-based Visible SCM getting purchased by multi-billion-euro-revenue Copenhagen-based Maersk for $838 million easily qualifies as the 6th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 5 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Qualtrics Acquires Clarabridge for $1.125 Billion  

In late July, Provo-based Qualtrics announced it was acquiring Clarabridge for $1.125 billion.

So even though the purchase didn't officially close until October 1st (one day after the end of the third quarter), we place Qualtrics' acquisition of Clarabridge as the 5th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 4 Business Story for Q3 2021:  HCA Healthcare Enters Two Agreements with Steward Health Care (likely Valued at $2.4 Billion in Total)

On September 20th HCA Healthcare unveiled two agreements regarding five Steward Health Care hospitals located in Utah.

As outlined in "HCA Healthcare Moves to Strengthen its Operations in Utah and the Intermountain West," HCA is acquiring the operations of five Steward hospitals in Utah with a total of 691 beds.

Given data published in October by American Hospital Directory that placed the average annual revenue per hospital bed in Utah at $4.35 million, this suggests that the five Steward hospitals are generating $1.2 billion in topline revenue per year.

Additionally, HCA also announced it had entered into a separate Master Lease agreement for the five Steward hospitals that also allows HCA to spend $1.2 billion to acquire the real estate assets of these facilities as soon as 2028.

Taken in concert, I peg the combined value of HCA's two deals to be somewhere around $2.4 billion, perhaps.

When completed, HCA's acquisition of the five Utah-based Steward hospital operations likely jump HCA Healthcare to become the 2nd largest healthcare provider in Utah behind Intermountain Healthcare.

For these reason, we rank the HCA agreements with Steward Health (and related entities) as the 4th biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 3 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Intermountain Healthcare's $2.8 Acquisition of SCL Health

In mid-September we published a story titled "Intermountain Healthcare and SCL Health Announce Multi-Billion-Dollar Merger."

In hindsight, however, it's clear now that regardless of the legalese of the agreement(s) between the two entities (and the related news release), Intermountain Healthcare is obviously acquiring SCL Health.

In addition, given information published on SCL's website describing itself as a "$2.8 billion health network," it seems clear to me that the acquisition (not a merger) was likely valued at a minimum of $2.8 billion.

At that pricepoint, plus the expansion of Intermountain Healthcare into new geographic regions, this merger ranks as the 3rd biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 2 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Agrees to Sell its Dealerships for $3.2 Billion

On the one hand, it was surprising; but on the other hand, the writing was clearly on the wall.

Specifically, when the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies announced in late September that it was selling off its dealerships and Total Auto Care for $3.2 billion, no one should have been surprised ... really ... especially given ownership's decision to sell-off the Utah Jazz a little over a year ago.

It's called divesting and diversifying.

Clearly the publicly disclosed moves by LHM since the sale of the Jazz  into long-term care and the purchase of the Daybreak community in South Jordan, Utah are clear examples of such diversification.

But regardless of what it's called, this $3.2 billion decision ranks as the 2nd biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.

Utah's No. 1 Business Story for Q3 2021:  Utah Surpasses $13.53 Billion in Transaction Value During the Third Quarter

When you add up the value of the Utah-based transactions noted in the prior nine sections you come up with over $10.96 billion in deals during the course of the third quarter of 2021.

To be clear, that figure does not include Dane Runia's movement of ~$3 billion in Assets Under Management to Morgan Stanley from Merrill Lynch.

But that's not all.

Not included in that $10.96 billion total are such events as

  • The $450 million purchase of VIA Motors;
  • The $420 million IPO of Traeger Grills;
  • Clearway Energy's $353 million purchase of seven utility-scale solar farms in Utah;
  • The $220 million Blank Check merger/IPO of Sarcos Technology and Robotics;
  • The $200 million Series B round of funding by Breeze Airways; and
  • At least $931 million in value produced through at least 15 additional transactions that occured during the quarter.

And that's just from the deals where we know the terms.

Taken in concert ... wait for it ...

That's a minimum of $13.53 billion in transactional value creation in Utah's greater business community during Q3 2021 through acquisistions, mergers, public offerings, and investments.

By context, we reported in early August that Utah businesses saw $15.75 billion in transactions during The First Half of 2021.

In other words, we have now seen at least $29.28 billion in value creation in Utah during the first nine months of the year, a 10% bump above the $26.4 billion in transactions during ALL OF 2020. {NOTE: MountainWest Capital Network pegs 2020 as the top year ever for the value of transactions within the state in one year with $26.4 billion.}

So given what has already occurred, financially, during the first part of the fourth quarter of the year, we (as a state) are on track to obliterate the record set in 2020.

So ... simply put ... $13.53 in financial transactions in the "State of Silicon Slopes" during the third quarter of 2021 is the Number 1 biggest business news story in Utah for the third quarter of 2021.


Congrats to everyone who had even a small part in helping to transform the state of business within Utah so far this year.

And may the balance of the year be as spectacular as the prior three quarters.

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