More Financial News

Baird opens new office locations, adds advisors; State angel network investments rose 28 percent last year; ZBB applying for $47 million in stimulus funds; MU College of Engineering receives $5 million donation; Fiserv to repurchase up to 5 million shares

Baird opens new office locations, adds advisors

Milwaukee- based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., announced today that it has three new wealth management offices – two in the Sacramento, CA area and another in Easton, Md. The company has recruited 19 veteran financial advisors to staff those offices.

“Northern California and the Mid-Atlantic region are key markets for Baird,” said Michael Schroeder, director, Private Wealth Management. “By adding talented financial professionals on both coasts, Baird is demonstrating our ability to attract top advisors who are committed to providing the best financial advice and service to the high-net-worth individuals, families and corporations.”

Combined, the advisors represent in excess of $1.3 billion in assets under management.

Since the beginning of 2009, Baird has hired 62 advisors and also has announced plans to open offices in San Francisco, Calif., and Nevada.

State angel network investments rose 28 percent last year

Wisconsin angel networks and funds posted a 28 percent increase in early stage investments in 2008, reaching more than $15 million invested in 53 deals. Recently released data showed that angel investing was down 26 percent nationally for the same year compared to 2007.

A steady rise in Wisconsin angel network investing accelerated in 2005 with the passage of the state’s investor tax credits law and the creation of the Wisconsin Angel Network. In 2002, the first year private angel investing was tracked in Wisconsin, there were 11 deals totaling $1.6 million. In 2007, Wisconsin charted $11.7 million in 42 angel network deals.

While Wisconsin’s overall early stage investment market has followed the national trend, down 33 percent to $98 million in 2008, the increase in angel network and fund investing demonstrates the success of Wisconsin’s focus on building and retaining angel networks and funds.

Venture capital investments in Wisconsin – those later-stage investments made after early stage companies begin to grow – declined by 32 percent to $76 million in 2008, again following the national trend of decreased venture investments.

“Wisconsin’s angel networks and funds are finding good deals in Wisconsin, despite the economic downturn,” Gov. Jim Doyle said. “Wisconsin has a nationally admired strategy for building angel capital, and the state must now move to the next stage so good angel-backed companies can attract follow-on rounds of funding. This is why I’ve included in my budget funding for the Wisconsin Venture Fund, which will increase venture financing in Wisconsin.”

Doyle announced the survey results during the 2009 BIO international convention in Atlanta, Ga., which is being attended by a Wisconsin delegation that includes representatives of many early stage companies. 

Angel investors are high net-worth individuals who invest in start-up ventures, sometimes alone and sometimes as members of a group.

“Wisconsin’s angel networks and funds are the backbone for our early stage market, dramatically increasing funding levels at a time when the entrepreneurial economy needs it the most,” said Joe Kremer, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network.

ZBB applying for $47 million in stimulus funds

Milwaukee-based ZBB Energy Corp. announced that it is applying for $47 million in federal stimulus funds for a planned $94 million investment in the company’s zinc bromide advanced flow battery energy storage manufacturing facility. The federal funds would be invested into ZBB’s production-ready, existing plant and a proposed new facility and into the company’s strategic partner’s (Soft Switching Technologies Inc. and Colonial Chemical Company) existing operations.

“ZBB’s Advanced Flow Battery Facility currently manufactures zinc bromide batteries; primarily for the transmission and distribution utilities markets and the renewable power industry," said ZBB’s CEO Rob Parry. "The modular nature of ZBB’s battery allows it to be sized and packaged into fully customized energy storage systems. ZBB’s systems recharge during off peak and renewable generation times and discharge power as needed.”

“With the FOA 26 investment, ZBB’s Advanced Flow Battery Facility will manufacture the same batteries to store energy from renewable sources and from the grid to charge Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Electric Drive Vehicles (EDV). We believe this market sector has the potential to be a billion dollar industry over the next few decades. ZBB has received a written commitment from a major diversified and sustainable power management group to use ZBB’s environmentally friendly, 500KWh advanced flow batteries for the longer-duration energy storage portion of that groups Charging of Electric Vehicles initiative. ZBB already enjoys a Strategic OEM Relationship by the establishment of a November, 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between the companies.”

ZBB also announced that it has appointed CapStone Investments as its bankers and financial advisers for the project. CapStone Investments is a full service investment firm, servicing a large institutional account base. CapStone is also a dedicated alternative investment specialist focused on providing comprehensive service to the alternative investment manager.

“ZBB’s current production capacity is approximately 20MWh/year," said ZBB chairman Bill Mundell. "We propose to increase production capacity to 300MWh/year, or fifteen times the size of our existing operation. Such production volumes would create the capacity, on an aggregate yearly basis, to enable the recharge of approximately 187,750 PHEVs per day, based on a minimum 4 kWh capacity of a plug-in electric drive vehicle. ZBB strongly believes that a reliable and proven recharge system will be critical to the United States’ electrical energy management and the successful penetration of the EDV industry into American commerce.”

MU College of Engineering receives $5 million donation

Marquette University announced last week that a California couple has pledged $5 million to the school’s College of Engineering to establish an endowed chair in secure and renewable energy systems.

“Our gift will have a lasting impact in attracting new talent to the pursuit of renewable energy/sustainability solutions at an institution we believe will make a difference,” said Thomas H. Werner, chief executive officer of San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. “My wife Suzanne and I believe both in the power of education and in the importance of scholarship and research in engineering and applied science.”

Tom Werner earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Marquette in 1986 and was named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2007. SunPower designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. 

“Sustainable energy is fundamental to our quality of life. We must, from both an industrial and educational perspective, address the issues of energy consumption and find ways to facilitate energy production from renewable energy sources,” said Marquette Opus Dean of Engineering Stan Jaskolski. “The Thomas H. and Suzanne W. Werner Chair in Secure and Renewable Energy Systems will position Marquette as a leader in this area for southeastern Wisconsin.”

Jaskolski said the new chair will lead a multidisciplinary research cluster of four to six faculty and develop a cutting-edge curriculum.

“Given student interest in sustainability and the environment, I expect this program to attract both undergraduates and graduate students,” he said. “We will continue to emphasize the importance of knowledge-based innovation as students work with faculty to pursue such practical applications as solar electric energy generation, modern electric drives and the design of products that make energy consumption more efficient.”

Fiserv to repurchase up to 5 million shares

The Board of Directors of Brookfield-based Fiserv, Inc. last week authorized the company to repurchase up to five million shares of its common stock, approximately 3 percent of its outstanding shares. As of March 31, 2009, the company had approximately 500,000 shares remaining in its previous repurchase authorization.


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