M&A Deals of the Week

With M&A news about the Milwaukee Wachovia office, Briggs & Stratton Corp., TDS Telecommunications Corp. and the MillerCoors joint venture

Hays acquires Wachovia’s Milwaukee office
The Milwaukee office of Hays Companies has acquired the employee benefits practice of the Milwaukee office of Wachovia. The acquisition resulted in the transfer of nearly 30 clients from Wachovia to Hays. In addition, four employees – Gwen Snyder, Greg Hubley, Dan Robinson, and Michael Sebastian – joined the employee benefits team at Hays’ Milwaukee office. The acquisition continues the growth of Hays’ Milwaukee office, which was founded in March 1999. In addition to an employee benefits practice, Hays also provides risk management and commercial insurance services, personal home and auto insurance, customized insurance and affinity programs. "Employee benefits are a very important part of our Milwaukee business," said Bob Heaps, executive vice president of Minneapolis-based Hays Companies. "We look forward to working with our new clients and showing them the Hays service model- all the benefits of a national presence and expertise combined with local ownership and service delivery."

Briggs to acquire Australian firm
Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Victa Lawncare Pty. Ltd. of Sydney, Australia, from GUD Holdings Limited, for $22 million in cash, subject to adjustments. Briggs & Stratton’s subsidiary Briggs & Stratton Australia Pty. Limited is a party to the transaction. Victa Lawncare is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of outdoor power equipment used in consumer lawn and garden applications in Australia and New Zealand. Its products are sold at large retail stores and independent dealers.

Victa Lawncare had net sales of $56 million for the nine months ended March 31, 2008 and anticipates net sales of approximately $64 million for the 12 months ending June 30. Briggs & Stratton anticipates financing the transaction from cash on hand and/or its existing credit facilities. The transaction is targeted for closing at the beginning of Briggs & Stratton’s fiscal 2009 first quarter, at which time Victa Lawncare will become a subsidiary of Briggs & Stratton Australia Pty. Limited.

"The acquisition brings together two of the leading companies in outdoor power products in Australia and New Zealand, and allows each company to continue to employ its core competencies. Briggs & Stratton will continue to focus on supplying engines to consumer and commercial power customers in Australia and New Zealand, and Victa Lawncare will continue to manufacture and market lawnmowers for its customers," said Todd Teske, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Briggs & Stratton Corp.

"This is a very positive outcome for Victa customers and for Briggs & Stratton. The Victa business has benefited from low-cost components, new product development and broader distribution strategies in recent years. Victa’s brand strength and current operational performance can only add to the strength of a company like Briggs & Stratton," said Ian Campbell, GUD Holdings’ managing director.

TDS acquires Mosinee Telephone Co.
TDS Telecommunications Corp., the Madison-based parent company of TDS Metrocom, has acquired Mosinee Telephone Co. The transaction includes nearly 6,000 residential and business line equivalents in areas adjacent to existing TDS service territory covering Auburndale, Junction City and Vesper, Wis. The acquisition enables TDS Telecom to expand customer coverage in the state.

"Our corporate headquarters is located in Wisconsin along with a large base of customers in the region," said Dave Wittwer, president and chief executive officer of TDS Telecom. "The location and customer base fit strategically with our current operations. We are looking forward to serving the needs of the community with our diverse product and service offerings."

TDS will communicate directly to all Mosinee customers in their monthly statements as the change moves forward. There will be a transition period for us to convert the customer information into our databases. Until then it’s business as usual," Wittwer said. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. TDS Telecom is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chicago-based Telephone and Data Systems Inc.

Miller-Coors merger clears antitrust hurdle, fills out leadership team
SABMiller plc and Molson Coors Brewing Company learned late last week that the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has completed its antitrust review of their joint venture and closed its investigation. The DOJ’s Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust review clears the way fo the two companies to proceed with the merger of their  respective U.S. and Puerto Rico operations to form a new company called MillerCoors.

SABMiller and Molson Coors expect the transaction to generate approximately $500 million in annual cost synergies to be delivered in full by the third full financial year of combined operations. The closing of the joint venture transaction is expected to take place on or about June 30, 2008. The Miller and Coors businesses will continue to be operated separately until then.

SABMiller and Molson Coors will each have a 50 percent voting interest in the joint venture and have five representatives each on its board of directors. Based on the economic value of the contributed assets, SABMiller will have a 58-percent economic interest in the joint venture, and Molson Coors will have a 42-percent economic interest. The combined company is likely to retain its breweries in Milwaukee and Golden, Colo. Miller and Coors executives have not announced where they plan to locate their merged and streamlined corporate headquarters.

On Monday, the companies announced MillerCoors’ leadership team. Leo Kiely, current CEO of Molson Coors, will be the CEO of MillerCoors; Tom Long, current CEO of Miller Brewing Company, will serve as President and Chief Commercial Officer; Tim Wolf, current CFO of Molson Coors, will be the Chief Integration Officer; and Gavin Hattersley, current Senior Vice President of Finance at Miller, will be the Chief Financial Officer. The combined company’s eastern and western division presidents, marketing, operations and legal officers, heads of information technology, ethics and human resources, and its chief of staff and communications officers were also named.

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