Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers & Acquisitions

Briggs acquires manufacturer in India
Briggs & Stratton Corp. has acquired Premier Power Equipments and Products Private Ltd. of Tamil Nadu, India, for approximately $3 million in cash, subject to adjustments.
The transaction was closed Wednesday.
Premier is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of tillers, weeders, harvesters, transplanters, pumps and portable generators used primarily in agricultural applications throughout India. In addition, Premier currently uses Briggs & Stratton engines on its products and distributes Briggs & Stratton engines in India. Its products are sold through a network of approximately 60 dealers in India.
"The acquisition of Premier is another step forward in executing our strategy to expand in developing regions of the world in order to diversify our product and geographic portfolio of business. Premier has the agricultural products and distribution that will serve as a platform for our future growth within India," said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton.
The Milwaukee-based company is financing the transaction from cash on hand. It expects that the acquisition will not have a material effect on earnings in fiscal 2012.

Clifton Gunderson to merge with Minneapolis firm
Milwaukee-based Clifton Gunderson and Minneapolis-based LarsonAllen, ranked as two of the nation’s top 20 certified public accounting and consulting firms, announced plans to merge and form one of the top 10 accounting firms in the United States.
The partners of both firms have agreed to the combination. Pending final approvals, the merger will take effect Jan. 2, 2012. The new firm will be named CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA).
The merged company will maintain both of its headquarters in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The new firm will have more than $550 million in combined revenue, employ more than 3,600 professionals, including 500-plus partners, and will operate from 25 states and Washington, D.C.
CLA will have a dominant presence in the accounting profession with its highly specialized capabilities in the health care, financial institutions, governmentals, not-for-profits, manufacturing/distribution, construction, real estate, agribusiness, dealerships, employee benefit plans and other industries, in addition to its strong technical foundation in audit, accounting and advisory services.
“This merger of peer firms changes the landscape of the accounting profession and pioneers a new trend by focusing primarily on private companies and their owners,” said Clifton Gunderson chief executive officer Kris McMasters. “We will be the firm of choice, the champions and leading resource center for privately held companies, proactively addressing their needs with our comprehensive suite of services. The firm will be positioned as the go-to source of information, knowledge and unique offerings for owners and leaders looking for assistance in achieving their personal and business dreams and objectives.”
Gordy Viere, CEO of LarsonAllen, said industry specialization has been at the core of both firms’ practices. “Coming together heightens our capacity to develop that vital focus and extend it beyond our accounting and advisory services to our wealth management and outsourcing capabilities,” he said. “This cohesive trio of industry-focused guidance is uncommon for private businesses and public sector organizations. It’s a powerful new resource for them.”
Organizationally, the new firm will be built around a holding company and three entities: CLA LLP, CLA Wealth Advisory and CLA Outsourcing — all integrated in their capabilities and delivery of services. McMasters and Viere will continue as CEOs within the integrated CLA firm. Viere will oversee the CLA holding company, the wealth advisory practice and the outsourcing practice, and McMasters will oversee CLA LLP, the public accounting practice.
CLA will have a national wealth management practice positioned as one of the top three in the accounting profession, with nearly $3 billion in assets under management. The combined firm will boast a $50 million industry-specialized outsourcing practice to help clients meet their financial, tax regulatory compliance and reporting responsibilities. In addition, CLA will have the capacity to help clients with international dealings successfully do business in a global environment.

Spectrum Brands makes ‘bolt on’ acquisitions
Madison-based Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., a global consumer products company with market-leading brands, announced it has acquired the assets of the Black Flag and TAT brands from The Homax Group Inc., a portfolio company of Olympus Partners.
Financial terms of the all-cash transaction were not disclosed.
"The Black Flag and TAT brands will immediately strengthen our United Industries’ Home & Garden product portfolio and its share of the $2.5 billion U.S. consumer pest control market," said Dave Lumley, chief executive officer of Spectrum Brands Holdings and president of the firm’s Home & Garden Division. "Black Flag, which began selling product in 1833, is one of the oldest brands in the U.S. and enjoys extraordinary consumer recognition. The Black Flag and TAT products will give us even stronger capabilities to serve the consumer marketplace while expanding our household insecticide presence in several less developed retail channels.
Lumley said the company is pursuing “bolt-on acquisitions” that expand its product line with strong, complimentary brands and categories.

Mason Wells acquires Pacon Corp.
Milwaukee-based Mason Wells announced that it has closed on the acquisition of Pacon Corp. from The Van Hoof Companies. 
Pacon will be owned by Mason Wells, current management and other co-investors.
With facilities in Appleton and Neenah, Wis., as well as Barrie, Ontario, Pacon primarily sells its products into two markets: school and art. In the school market, Pacon is a leading converter and marketer of consumable school supplies sold under numerous brands, including Peacock, Tru-Ray and Fadeless, to the K-8 market. In the art market, Pacon is a leading converter and marketer of art papers sold primarily under the Strathmore Artist Papers brand to student, professional and recreational artists.
The employees and suppliers of Pacon, as well as the communities of Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley, have played an integral role in the company’s success and will continue to do so in the future.
“Mason Wells is pleased to be partnering with Pacon’s management team to support the company’s growth initiatives,” said Tom Smith, senior managing director of Mason Wells. “The company’s skilled workforce, low cost manufacturing capabilities, strong brands, talented sales organization and experienced management team are all factors that have allowed the company to consistently meet the expectations of its customers. We believe the company provides an excellent platform for growth and is well positioned to capitalize on a number of market and new product opportunities.”
Since the mid-1980s, Mason Wells has invested in numerous Midwest-based companies in the packaging and packaged goods industry.
“We are very excited about our new partnership with Mason Wells,” said Jim Schmitz, president and chief executive officer of Pacon. “Their experience from years of successfully building packaging and packaged goods companies will provide Pacon with the resources necessary to support our long-term growth initiatives. With Mason Wells’ strong financial backing and network of resources, we look forward to continuing to serve our customers with innovative, high-quality, consumable school products, educational aids and arts & crafts products.”
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Senior financing for the transaction was provided by U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Associated Bank, BMO Harris Bank and PNC Bank. Mezzanine financing was provided by PNC Mezzanine.  Reinhart Boerner and Quarles & Brady LLP served as legal counsel to Mason Wells.
Mason Wells is a leading Midwest-based private equity firm that manages more than $800 million of capital through the Mason Wells Buyout Funds. Since 1982, Mason Wells has closed more than 80 transactions through the Mason Wells Buyout Funds and its predecessor funds.

Market Probe acquires Illinois firm
Market Probe, a Milwaukee-based global marketing research and consulting company, announced the acquisition of Richard Day Research (RDR) Inc. of Evanston, Ill.
RDR is a custom market research firm specializing in financial services and pharmaceutical research.
RDR president and founder Richard Day said, “Market Probe provides business solutions to the world’s largest banks, pharmaceutical companies and other industries.  We believe that its global presence along with its advanced technology will benefit our clients as well as our staff. Their acquisition of RDR brings us access to systems, technologies, advanced analytic solutions and innovations that a larger company like Market Probe offers. For example, they have a very sophisticated reporting dashboard offering advanced tracking survey technology. Our clients will still receive the attentive service, flexibility and customized solutions that the RDR team has always provided.”
T.R. Rao, president and CEO of Market Probe, said: “With this acquisition, we have significantly strengthened our position as a global leader in Financial Services and Pharmaceutical market research. Being a global company with a presence on all continents, we are now in a better situation to service the needs of global firms in these sectors. Market Probe values RDR as a well-run business with long-time client relationships.”
In addition to corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Market Probe has offices throughout the United States and in Canada, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, India, Bahrain, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

FCF Partners sells Thiel Cheese
Milwaukee private equity firm FCF Partners LP has sold Hilbert-based Thiel Cheese and Ingredients to the Irish Dairy Board.
Thiel, which makes process cheese products, has annual sales of about $50 million. All of Thiel’s 66 employees will remain with the company, according to an IDB press release.
The debt-free acquisition was for an undisclosed sum.
"We are excited about this strategic acquisition in the USA, which will transform our value added cheese ingredients business. It is an excellent and complementary fit to our existing growing USA ingredients business,” said Kevin Lane, CEO of the Dublin-based IDB, in the release.
G. Woodrow Adkins, managing partner of FCF, said in the release that he was pleased with the firm’s almost ten year investment in Thiel.
“The strategic acquisition by the IDB is an excellent result for all Thiel employees, the local area, and the state of Wisconsin for continued profitable growth in the dairy industry,” he said.

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