Wisconsin banks announce acquisitions

In a New Year that promises upheaval in the banking industry, transactions involving two Wisconsin banks were announced Friday.

Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp today announced it has agreed to Eden Prairie, Minn.-based risk and benefits consulting firm Ahmann & Martin Co., which would be merged into its benefits subsidiary, Associated Financial Group. The transaction, expected to close next month, is valued at about $48 million, with incentives that could increase the price by $8 million if certain contingencies are met.

Associated Financial Group offers consulting on employee benefits, business insurance and human resources, and some individual and private insurance services. It has about 240 insurance specialists across the company’s three-state footprint, with $49 million in annualized insurance-related revenues.

With the addition of Ahmann & Martin, Associated Financial Group will have 370 employees serving about 14,000 clients, which would make it one of the top 50 insurance brokerage firms in the country.

Several key Ahmann executives will become leaders in the combined company. Dean Hildebrandt, current CEO of Ahmann, will become president and CEO of the new company, reporting to William Bohn, Associated Banc-Corp executive vice president and head of Private Client & Institutional Services, which includes Associated Financial Group. David Martin, benefits principal at Ahmann, will become executive vice president and lead Associated Financial Group’s overall benefits strategy. Richard Ahmann III, property and casualty principal at Ahmann, will play a key role in the integration of the businesses. All three executives will join the Associated Financial Group board of directors.

“There are many aspects to this new partnership that will contribute to our continuing success,” Bohn said. “Perhaps the most significant are the client-centric values and common culture inherent in both organizations. Our shared priority on client relationships and innovative strategic solutions creates a powerful value proposition as we go forward together.”

The combination will provide centralized management of financial risks for clients, according to Phillip Flynn, president and chief executive officer of Associated Banc-Corp.

“The addition of this fast-growing and respected company to the Associated family enhances our ability to offer clients unique, comprehensive solutions to meet their insurance and financial risk management needs,” he said.  “As we look forward, we will continue to seek ways in which we can prudently grow our capabilities and drive greater client and shareholder value.”

Also on Friday, Rosemont, Ill.-based Wintrust Financial Corp. announced it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Delavan-based Delavan Bancshares Inc. for $38 million.

Delavan Bancshares is the parent company of Community Bank CBD, which has branches in Delavan, Sharon, Lake Geneva and Clinton. Community Bank, which has about $210 million in assets and about $168 million in deposits, will now be merged into Wintrust’s subsidiary, Hartland-based Town Bank.

Wintrust also in April acquired 11 Talmer Bank and Trust branches and the Pewaukee branch of THE National Bank and folded them into Town Bank. Wintrust includes 15 community banks with more than 135 branches.

“This transaction allows us to expand and complement our growing market presence in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Edward Wehmer, president and CEO of Wintrust. “We look forward to continuing with the community banking approach that CBD has established and to providing local communities with an expanded array of products and services.”

“We are excited to begin our partnership with a successful organization that is like-minded in its philosophy of offering individually focused customer-oriented retail and commercial banking services with financial capabilities to support further expansion,” said Michael Murphy, president and CEO of Community Bank. “The transaction allows us to focus on serving our customers, while at the same time providing them with access to a wider range of products and services. We are pleased to join the Wintrust family.”

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