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Banking, Finance & M&A

Sikich to acquire division of Jannsen + Co.

The audit, accounting and tax practice of Pewaukee-based Jannsen + Co. will be acquired by Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich LLP, the companies have announced.

Jannsen will retain its wealth management and information technology groups.

Sikich is a professional services firm offering audit, accounting and tax, technology, investment banking and advisory and managed services. The firm entered the Milwaukee market with the acquisition of Brookfield-based Kolb + Co. in 2013, which was the largest locally-owned public accounting and business advisory firm in Wisconsin at that time. Sikich last year acquired Brookfield information security consulting firm 403 Labs.

Sikich has 110 employees at its Brookfield office. In the Jannsen acquisition, which is expected to close Sept. 30, 15 Jannsen employees—the majority of the CPA practice—will join Sikich in Brookfield, said Mark Sobczak, CPA, partner-in-charge of Sikich’s Brookfield office.

Sikich will add about 400 corporate clients in the Milwaukee market through the acquisition. The company also has plans to continue hiring to expand its team locally, Sobczak said.

Columbus McKinnon completes acquisition of Magnetek

Amherst, N.Y.-based Columbus McKinnon Corp., a material handling products manufacturer, has completed its acquisition of Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc.

Magnetek manufactures digital power and motion control solutions for material handling, elevator and mining applications. It is one of North America’s largest independent digital drives, radio controls, software and accessories suppliers for industrial cranes and hoists, and has counted Columbus McKinnon as a customer.

The $188.9 million transaction, announced in July, is expected to provide enhanced technology, innovation, branding and expertise to Columbus McKinnon.

The brand and operations will remain intact at Magnetek, and its president and chief executive officer, Peter McCormick, will continue to lead the subsidiary. The company has about 340 employees. While Columbus McKinnon, which has 2,735 employees at 17 global manufacturing facilities, does not yet have any firm hiring plans, it expects to add additional employees at Magnetek as it grows the business, said Gregory Rustowicz, chief financial officer and vice president of finance at Columbus.

Columbus McKinnon expects the acquisition to be accretive in the first full year following the combination, to the tune of about 40 cents per share. The acquisition will offer $5 million in cost synergies in the next fiscal year, but will cost between $7.5 million and $8.5 million to complete in the current fiscal year.

Johnson Controls completes sale of facilities management business

Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. has completed the sale of its Global Workplace Solutions segment to CBRE Group.

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial company with 170,000 employees in more than 150 countries. Its GWS segment provided integrated facilities and corporate real estate management. CBRE Group is a commercial real estate company based in Los Angeles.

The $1.475 billion transaction, which the companies announced in March, includes a provision that they will remain strategic partners for 10 years. Johnson Controls will provide HVAC equipment, building automation systems and related services for CBRE’s real estate portfolio, which now totals 5 billion square feet. The partnership will provide about $500 million in annual incremental revenue to the Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business.

And CBRE will provide integrated corporate real estate services, including facilities management, project management and transaction services, for Johnson Controls’ 50 million square feet of property.

Johnson Controls is also in the process of spinning off its Automotive Experience division as it reorganizes the company to focus on its core offerings.

WaterStone Bank names community presidents for new branches

Wauwatosa-based WaterStone Bank has hired two new community presidents, to lead its new Greenfield and Fox Point branches.

The company announced in December it will open a newly constructed 3,500-square-foot full-service branch at 5000 W. Loomis Road in Greenfield, and in July, it announced plans to open a new branch in an existing building at 8607 N. Port Washington Road in Fox Point.

Elizabeth Baumann will head the Greenfield branch, which will open this month. Baumann joined WaterStone in August. She previously worked as assistant vice president-bank office manager at Bank Mutual. Baumann holds Wisconsin licenses for life and health insurance, is NMLS and SAFE Act registered, and is signature guarantee and notary public bonded. She graduated from Marquette University in 2012 with a master of art in medieval history and earned a master of library and information science degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014.

Jim Vick will head the Fox Point branch, which will open in October. Vick has worked in banking for 15 years, most recently as branch manager at BMO Harris Bank. He holds a bachelor’s of business administration from UW-Milwaukee.

Most MMAC economic indicators point upward in July

Most of the economic indicators tracked by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce improved in July over year-ago levels, according to the latest regional monthly economic report from the MMAC.

July was the 42nd consecutive month that more than half of the indicators tracked by the MMAC registered year-over-year improvement.

Highlights of the report:

  • Nonfarm job levels averaged 858,500 in July, a 1.6 percent increase over year-ago levels. Six of 10 major industry sectors posted year-over-year job increases, with the business and professional sector posting the strongest gain, up 4.3 percent.
  • Metro Milwaukee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate averaged 5.2 percent in July, down 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. The area’s July unemployment rate is lower than the national rate of 5.6 percent, but higher than the state rate of 4.5 percent. The number of unemployed in the area was 42,900 in July, down 18 percent. New unemployment compensation claims fell 6.9 percent to 4,782.
  • Home sales in the metro area rose 13.5 percent in July to 1,826. The number of mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County rose 15.8 percent in July to 2,670. Both indicators posted their sixth consecutive month of year-over-year increase.
  • New car registrations in the region were down 1.8 percent in July, following a 5.6 percent dip in June. That was the first time new car registrations in the area fell in consecutive months since November of 2014.
  • Air passengers using Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee dipped 0.1 percent in July to 610,271.

Region’s property tax levies drop 3% in 2015

Aggregate property taxes collected in the southeast Wisconsin region fell by 3 percent ($121 million) from 2014 to 2015, with each of the seven counties in the region seeing individual declines – the first time that has happened since at least 2000, according to a new report from the Public Policy Forum.

The decrease in the region’s aggregate tax levy was accompanied by an even larger (5.4 percent) decrease in the aggregate gross tax rate for property owners in the region, from $23.93 per $1,000 of equalized value in 2014 to $22.63 in 2015. This is the first year the region’s tax rate has declined since 2008, according to the report.

According to the report, the “decline in levies resulted largely from the passage of Wisconsin Act 145.” That legislation – signed into law in March 2014 – provided more than $400 million in additional state aid for the state’s technical colleges, with a corresponding requirement that property taxes across the state be reduced by a roughly equivalent amount.

In the southeast Wisconsin region, Act 145 helped produce a $137 million decrease in property taxes levied by technical colleges, which caused the percentage of the region’s aggregate gross levy that is derived from technical colleges to decline from 7 percent in 2014 to 3.5 percent this year, according to the report.

The substantial decrease in the region’s property tax rate is attributed not only to the reduction in levies, but also to growth in property values, according to the report.

Every county in the region experienced an increase in property values, though there were disparities in increases across the region. For example, property values in Kenosha County increased by 4.8 percent, while those in Milwaukee and Walworth counties increased by only 0.7 percent.

The Public Policy Forum report was sponsored by Baird. It can be downloaded from the Forum’s website at


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