PIMA COUNTY – In April, the public was outraged when they learned that the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a request to defer the rent and other expenses of some of the County’s richest tenants including Accelerate Diagnostics, and Bank of America, two publicly traded companies.
The outrage ramped up last week on a national level after it was learned that Accelerate Diagnostics “is the latest Arizona publicly traded company to receive funding under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program,” according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
“In a regulatory filing, Accelerate (Nasdaq: AXDX) said it received a PPP loan worth $4,780,600 through National Bank of Arizona, a subsidiary of Salt Lake City-based Zions Bancorporation NA.
“The PPP loans, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, are to be used to cover payroll costs and benefits, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, utilities and interest on certain other debt obligations.
“According to the April 14 filing, the note matures on April 14, 2022, bearing interest at 1% per annum. If the company can show the SBA the loan was used for payroll and other approved expenses, the loan would be forgiven.
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller was the lone “no” vote against the rent deferral plan, earning her high praise from many residents of the fifth poorest metropolitan area in the country, who have no idea how they are going to pay their own rents.
PPP to deep pockets raise ire and questions
Earlier this month, Sen. Martha McSally was one of the first politicians to call out the big businesses taking advantage of the PPP program:
Dear big banks: PPP is NOT your money. It is the taxpayers’ money intended to be a lifeline for small businesses & to keep them from going under due to coronavirus. We expected everyone in America, including you, to act with grace & speed to rescue those most hurt by this crisis.
— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) April 21, 2020
With Accelerate Diagnostics, a biotech company collaborating on the global distribution of new Covid-19 antibody tests, the need for PPP is a mystery. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, Accelerate Diagnostic’s market cap is just under $512 million.”
“Accelerate is teaming with San Francisco-based BioCheck Inc., which developed the MS-FAST system and SARS-CoV-2 test that can process blood, serum or plasma samples in 30 minutes to detect antibodies that confirm exposure and potential immunity to Covid-19,” according to the Journal. “BioCheck has applied to receive U.S Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for its SARS-Cov-2 tests. The tests will be distributed across North America, Europe and the Middle East.”
BioCheck press release:
Jack Phillips, Accelerate Diagnostics’ Chief Executive Officer, also commented: “We are eager to play our part in the fight against this devastating virus. BioCheck, Inc., in conjunction with its strategic partner Sophonix Co., Ltd., has been clinically validating its fully automated serologic tests in Wuhan, China since the early stages of the pandemic, and we are delighted to partner with them to bring this critical technology to as many patients and healthcare workers as possible.”
Dr. Amy Zhang, Vice President and General Manager of BioCheck, stated: “We are excited to announce this partnership with Accelerate Diagnostics, which will bring our MS-FAST instrument and SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgM tests to patients across multiple geographies and help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 around the world. Working with Sophonix, we have spent seven years developing the MS-FAST system to be more sensitive and easily deployable than many current products on the market.”
●2020 First Quarter Financial and Operational Highlights
● Added 13 net new global commercially contracted instruments, including 21 new U.S. contracted instruments.
● Live U.S. Pheno instruments at the end of the first quarter were 197, with another 239 U.S. contracted Pheno instruments not yet live.
●Net sales for the first quarter are expected to be approximately $2.3 million, compared to $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2019.
●Net cash used in the quarter was $16.4 million, and the Company ended the quarter with total cash, investments, and cash equivalents of $92.0 million.
●As disclosed in a press release dated April 14th, 2020, Accelerate Diagnostics, Inc. entered into a commercial collaboration agreement with BioCheck, Inc., San Francisco, U.S., including their affiliate, Sophonix Ltd., Beijing, China, to sell serology-based SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests (IgG and IgM) in the U.S. and EMEA.
Meanwhile, small business owners across the state had hoped the Arizona Legislature would approve the deferral of their property taxes. To date, the Legislature, which is the only governing body with the authority in Arizona to defer property taxes, has not heeded their calls for relief.