Cleary Gull to be acquired by CIBC

Milwaukee investment bank to expand to Chicago

Cleary Gull managing directors John Peterson, Patrick Bremmer, Ryan Olsta, Ronald Miller, Ryan Chimenti and Gregory Gorlinski.

Milwaukee investment bank Cleary Gull Inc. has agreed to be acquired by Canadian bank CIBC, the companies announced today.

Toronto-based CIBC’s U.S. headquarters is in Chicago. The transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close in CIBC’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in October.

Cleary Gull provides middle-market mergers and acquisitions, private capital placement and debt advisory services. It has been growing recently as it expands its base of private equity fund clients across the country, and now has 27 employees.

“First, it’s a really good market. It’s a good time for M&A,” said Ronald Miller, president and managing director at Cleary Gull. “But what’s really driving our growth is doing good quality work for our clients, and the word’s spreading. We’ve grown more than 50% in the last three years and this will allow us to continue to build and grow our middle market franchise.”

CIBC plans to retain Cleary Gull’s office and all its employees in Milwaukee under the name CIBC Cleary Gull, said Miller, who will head the division. The acquisition will allow Cleary Gull to establish a presence in the Chicago market and fast-track its expansion in both cities, he said.

“We weren’t looking to sell. We were approached and ultimately thought that partnering with them could accelerate our growth, expand our industry knowledge, our geographic reach and…our sourcing,” Miller said.

Cleary Gull was founded in 1987 as a research boutique by a group that left Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co Inc. Then called Cleary, Gull, Reiland, McDevitt & Collopy, it was sold to Tucker Anthony Sutro in 1998. After Tucker Anthony was acquired by RBC, the management and employees bought Cleary Gull back in 2002. Three years ago, the firm sold its wealth management division to Racine-based Johnson Financial Group. Cleary Gull is 100% employee-owned.

“Our bank has an established presence in providing investment banking advisory services to large corporate clients in the U.S., and our acquisition of Cleary Gull will further our capabilities for middle market clients,” said Roman Dubczak, managing director and head of global investment banking at CIBC. “Over its more than 30-year history, Cleary Gull has built a strong team and brings industry expertise to a variety of sectors.”

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.