The company now known as Zurn Water Solutions spent much of the past year working to complete the spinoff and merger of its Rexnord business with Regal Beloit. It didn’t take long for the company to make another major transaction, announcing a $1.56 billion acquisition of Elkay Manufacturing. The Zurn-Elkay deal, a multi-billion Rockwell Automation acquisition and two companies involved with special purpose acquisition corporations headline the list of big deals for southeastern Wisconsin M&A activity from the past year. Here’s a look at the most significant area transactions during the past year:
Describing it as its “next big step,” Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation paid $2.2 billion to acquire Michigan-based Plex Systems, a provider of smart manufacturing software as a service.
Harley-Davidson announced plans to merge its LiveWire electric motorcycle brand with a special purpose acquisition corporation backed by New York-based AEA Investors and Connecticut-based Bridges Fund Management. Harley retains 74% ownership of the company in the deal, which values LiveWire at $1.76 billion and includes a $100 million investment from Taiwanese motorcycle maker KYMCO.
Milwaukee-based Zurn Water Solutions completed a $3.7 billion spin-off of its Rexnord business to Regal Beloit in October. In November, the company acquired Alabama-based Wade Drains for $13.7 million after acquiring ATS GREASEwatch for $4.5 million in April. In February, Zurn announced plans to acquire Illinois-based Elkay Manufacturing in a $1.56 billion deal that gives Elkay shareholders 29% ownership of the combined company.
Hartland-based Fathom Digital Manufacturing went public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition corporation backed by New York-based HPS Investment Partners. Fathom, previously known as Midwest Composite Technologies, had done 13 acquisitions in three years to grow its operations. The SPAC deal valued the company at $1.5 billion and paid existing shareholders $318 million.
ManpowerGroup acquired Charlotte-based IT resourcing and service firm ettain for $925 million.
Brookfield-based Fiserv made a number of acquisitions, including BentoBox in November, AIP in October, SpendLabs in June, Pineapple Payments in May and Radius8 in March. The company also acquired a remaining ownership stake in NetPay in November. Along with the January 2021 acquisition of Ondot, the company paid a combined $882 million.
Town of Genesee-based Generac acquired smart thermostat maker ecobee in a cash-and-stock deal potentially worth $770 million depending on earnouts. The company also acquired UK-based Deep Sea for $420 million in June, California-based Chilicon for $61 million in July, UK-based Off Grid Energy for $53 million, and Oregon-based Apricity Code and Boston-based Tank Utility for a combined $30 million in September and October. The flurry of deals follows at least five others Generac made since 2019.
Johnson Controls acquired Silent-Aire, a provider of hyperscale data center cooling and critical infrastructure solutions, for $755 million in May. In January the company acquired FogHorn, a California-based developer of edge AI software for industrial and commercial IoT applications.
EQT Private Equity sold Hartland-based conveyor maker Dorner Manufacturing Corp. to Columbus McKinnon Corp., a New York-based maker of motion control and automation products in a $485 million deal.
Connecticut-based metal food packaging provider Silgan Containers acquired Mequon-based Gateway Plastics Inc. in a $485 million deal.
Germantown-based supplier of flavorings First Choice Ingredients was acquired by Dutch firm Royal DSM in a $453 million deal. Former First Choice owner Jim Pekar said he was motivated to sell by potential tax changes and picked DSM over higher bids because it provided the best home for the company’s employees.
Oak Creek-based railroad equipment maker Nordco was acquired by Pittsburgh-based Wabtec Corp. in a $410 million deal in March.
Pewaukee-based CentroMotion, previously the engineered components and systems division of Actuant Corp., acquired Arizona-based Carlisle Companies’ Brake & Friction business in a $375 million deal in August. In February, Carlisle announced it had received a $125 million post-closing earnout payment.
Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith acquired Canadian water heater maker Giant for $199 million in October. The company also acquired Pennsylvania-based Master Water Conditioning and one other water treatment company for $9 million combined.
Milwaukee-based Brady Corp. paid $173 million to acquire The Code Corp., a Utah-based provider of barcode scanners and track-and-trace software. The company also paid around $59 million to acquire Magicard, a United Kingdom-based maker of ID card printers, and $13 million for a 90% stake in Nordic ID, a Finnish company that makes RFID readers.
New York-based automotive parts manufacturer and distributor Standard Motor Products Inc. acquired Trombetta Inc., a Milwaukee-based DC power products manufacturer, for $108 million in an all-stock deal in June.
Brookfield-based Paragon Development Systems Inc. was acquired from Mason Wells by Toronto-based Converge Technology Solutions Corp. in a deal that included $52 million in cash.
Illinois-based Life Fitness sold its Bristol-based Brunswick Billiards pool table and rec room games business to Escalade Inc., a publicly traded sporting goods company based in Indiana, for $32 million subject to certain
Manitowoc-based Orion Energy Systems acquired Pewaukee-based Stay-Lite Lighting for $3.7 million in January. The deal included an additional $700,000 in potential earnout payments based on Stay-Lite’s gross profit over the next two years.
Footwear marketer and distributor Weyco Group acquired Forsake, a distributor of outdoor footwear, for $2.6 million in June, plus an estimated $1.3 million in potential additional payments over the next five years.