A hometown bank with roots tracing back more than 30 years was acquired

this week, giving a New Mexico bank a stronger foothold in the Boulder

area.

Broomfield-based Front Range Capital Corp., which has about $450

million in assets as the owner of the 13-branch Heritage Bank, said the

parent of First Community Bank plans to buy it for $72 million in

cash.

As a result of the deal, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and

his wife, Claudia, could gross more than $16.5 million. The couple owns

about 23 percent of Front Range Capital, according to regulatory

filings.

The acquisition would give First Community Bank, a subsidiary of

Albuquerque-based First State Bancorp., about 43,000 customer accounts

between 20 Colorado locations, 11 of which are in Boulder and

Broomfield counties. Prior to the agreement, First Community Bank

— which operates 49 branch offices in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona

— had one Longmont location.

The growth of First Community Bank, which classifies itself as a

community bank focused on small- to medium-sized firms, has come from

taking market share from larger banks, said H. Patrick Dee, president

of First Community Bank. Because of that, Heritage Bank's Boulder-area

branches were attractive, he said.

Heritage Bank "is a great franchise in that part of the state that

has some outstanding long-term growth possibilities," he said, noting

plans to add cash management and electronic banking technologies to the

branches.

Heritage Bank's history goes back more than 30 years, to 1973, with

the opening of Lafayette First Industrial Bank. Front Range Capital

Corp. purchased the industrial bank in 1985, later converting it to a

commercial bank. In 1990, the Beauprezes purchased the bank, then

called Bank VII, renamed it Lafayette State Bank, and opened additional

branches in Boulder County. It became Heritage Bank in 1998.

Claudia Beauprez remains a director of Front Range Capital. Bob

Beauprez does not.

The deal "is not a political consideration for us," said John

Marshall, Beauprez's campaign spokesman.

The deal is expected to close in early 2007, months after the fall

political campaign concludes. Governors, Marshall said, have an ethical

obligation to remove themselves from any kind of perceived position

that would be a conflict of interest.

"Bob Beauprez has now done that," Marshall said.

After expanding to 13 locations, Heritage's board felt it was a good

time to consider a strategic alliance, said Bill Mitchell, Heritage

Bank's chief executive officer.

"We wanted to be in a position to allow us to continue on our growth

pattern and facilitate our growth that we wouldn't be able to do so on

our own," Mitchell said.

It is unclear how — or if — Heritage's 165 employees will

be affected by the deal, Mitchell said.

"I know they have a real need for good people; they want to keep

good people and we have good people," he said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at (303) 473-1332

or wallacea@dailycamera.com.