Barrett believes Johnson Controls merger will be good for Milwaukee

City meeting with company Tuesday on unrelated matter

Tom Barrett
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:04 pm

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday he had no inkling Johnson Controls would acquire Irish company Tyco International, but said the news could be good for Milwaukee.

Glendale-based multi-industrial firm Johnson Controls Inc. confirmed plans today to merge with Irish fire protection and security systems company Tyco International plc, and revealed that the combined company’s global headquarters and legal domicile will be in Cork, Ireland, a city of about 120,000 residents.

However, the primary operational headquarters for the combined company will be in the Milwaukee area.

“Johnson Controls is a solid corporate citizen that has had a presence for many, many years in Milwaukee,” Barrett said. “It’s great that their leaders recognize that Milwaukee is the desired location for its operational headquarters.”

Barrett
Barrett

Barrett has not spoken to Johnson Controls executives, but had an already-scheduled call with the company Tuesday, for other city business with the company, he said.

“There are things we are working on together,” Barrett said.

Barrett would not comment further on what those things are, but he did say the planned discussion does not have anything to do with a $500,000 development feasibility study that has been underway since last year for a site near the lakefront. A year ago BizTimes Milwaukee reported that Johnson Controls was working on plans for a 50-story, 1.2 million-square-foot building near the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee. The company would not comment on those plans, but later agreed to split the cost of the feasibility study for the lakefront site.

It remains unclear how the merger with Tyco will impact Johnson Controls’ potential plans for a downtown office tower.

“We have no plans to change operations (in the Milwaukee area),” Johnson Controls spokesman Fraser Engerman said today. “We have made no decisions on future possible expansion in Milwaukee. ”

Barrett would not comment on the timeline or status of the site feasibility study and referred questions to the Department of City Development.

Jeff Fleming, spokesman for DCD, said the city continues to view itself as Johnson Controls’ partner in determining the potential for the parcel that will be created by the reconfiguration of the Lake Interchange, but at this time, there is no new information on the combined study.

“The city would be eager to have Johnson Controls as a partner, but we are by no means in an exclusive relationship with them,” Fleming said. “At this point we have approved a joint funding mechanism and we are both interested in examining the potential of the site. We are not chatting about specific work being done.”

Johnson Controls, which has predicted record 2016 profits, is in the process of spinning off its automotive division into a new company, which will be called Adient, that is leasing space in the 833 East building in downtown Milwaukee.

Barrett said he anticipates future growth in the heart of the city by Johnson Controls.

“I’m optimistic,” Barrett said, adding that he is not worried about future job loss related to the merger. “We are going to work with them on a number of fronts to make sure we do everything we can to preserve jobs here.”

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