Coming aboard

  • Article by: PATRICK KENNEDY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2010 - 8:10 AM

Acquisitions, relocations and slipping sales all contributed to a year of turnover for Minnesota's biggest public companies.

coming aboard ...

In an effort to be as inclusive as possible we've added OneBeacon Insurance Group, a provider of specialty and personal insurance. It is registered in Hamilton, Bermuda, but the principal executives are headquartered in Minnetonka, so we've added the company to our list. OneBeacon makes the highest debut this year at No. 23.

AGA Medical (No. 62) was the only Minnesota-based company to complete an initial public offering in 2009. In fact, AGA is the first Minnesota IPO since Enteromedics and Virtual Radiologic went public on Nov. 14, 2007.

Cardiovascular Systems Inc. completed a merger with a subsidiary of Replidyne that made it a public company in February 2009. Cardiovascular debuts on this year's list at No. 85.

farewells ...

Travelers Cos. Inc. (No. 6 last year) was the largest company we said goodbye to. In 2009, its headquarters moved to New York. In 2004 the St. Paul Cos. acquired Travelers Property Casualty, changing the name to St. Paul Travelers Cos. and evenutally in 2007 to Travelers Cos. Inc. Alhough Travelers moved its HQ, it remains one of St. Paul's largest employers.

PepsiAmericas (No. 18) was always listed because Robert Pohlad and other executives were based here although the majority of its employees were not. Last year PepsiCo set its mind on consolidating its bottling business, and in April it made offers to acquire its two largest bottlers -- Minneapolis-based PepsiAmericas and Somers, N.Y.-based Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. Pepsi sweetened its offers to the two bottlers in August and those deals closed on Feb. 26. PepsiCo now controls the majority of its North American bottling and distribution volume, allowing it to make faster changes to its supply chain.

On Jan. 14 Gander Mountain (No. 34) completed a 1-30,000 reverse/forward split as part of a going-private transaction. Since the deal closed after the end of its fiscal year, we will list it here one more time. The outdoors and sporting goods retailer will still be based in St. Paul but will be considered a private company, not a public one.

We'll be saying goodbye to Health Fitness Corp. (No. 77). Trustmark Mutual Holding Co. acquired Health Fitness on Jan. 21 for approximately $97 million. Because the deal closed in 2010, Health Fitness makes the list one more time. It provides health and fitness management services.

Another company departed the list because its headquarters no longer are here. Entegris Inc. (No. 49 last year) merged with Mykrolis Corp. in 2005 andkept the name Entegris, but eventually shifted its headquarters to Billarica, Mass., in the third quarter of 2009.

An acquisition took out another Star Tribune 100 company in August 2009 when SoftBrands Inc. (No. 73 last year) was acquired by Infor Global Solutions and Golden Gate Capital. Based in Alpharetta, Ga., Infor is one of the largest business software companies in the world.

Zareba Systems Inc. (No. 93) appears for the last time this year. The maker of electronic fence and security systems for animal control was acquired by a new subsidiary of Woodstream Corp. The $22.7 million deal closed April 1.

slipping sales

With sales of the Bottom 50 companies falling faster than the overall list, it is not surprising to see several companies drop off the bottom. Sales at Winland Electronics (No. 97 last year) dropped 21 percent, which bumped it off the list to No. 102. Likewise WSI Industries (No. 99 last year) saw sales drop 34.5 percent, forcing it to No. 103. And last year's No. 100, Clearfield Inc., posted a 3 percent revenue drop, enough bump it off the list to the 101st position.

way to grow

Revenue jumped 19.1 percent at nanotechnology firm NVE Corp., which allowed it to debut this year at No. 96. NVE develops and sells devices using "spintronics," a nanotechnology that uses electron spin rather than electron charge to acquire, store and transmit information. NVE got a big boost from contract research and development for commercial and military markets.

Casino management firm Lakes Entertainment had a good 2009, with sales up 7.8 percent to $26.2 million, primarily due to a full 12 months of management fees from the Red Hawk Casino near Sacramento, Calif. Lakes returns to the list in the No. 98 spot, after a long absence. The last time Lakes made the list was in 1999, when it took significantly higher revenue to make the list. Lakes ranked 93rd on our 1999 list, when it had $92 million in revenue.

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