Southeastern Wisconsin financial service industry news
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
ManpowerGroup acquires French IT support service
February 24, 2015 10:05 AM
Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup has acquired the desk-side and end user support arm of French digital services provider Atos.

The acquisition was made through Proservia, ManpowerGroup’s French subsidiary, to strengthen the company’s services in France. Proservia has 350 clients. The acquisition will position it as a leader in the IT infrastructure sector, offering help desk services and desktop support.

More than 800 Atos desk-side and end user support services employees will join Proservia beginning March 1. It will bring Proservia’s total employee count to 2,400.

"This is an important step for ManpowerGroup France and ManpowerGroup globally as we further develop our strategic capabilities to help clients succeed in this rapidly changing competitive environment,” said Jonas Prising, chief executive officer. “Proservia will continue to source and develop the in-demand talent our clients need to seize transient competitive advantage and drive strong business performance.  We look forward to continued growth as we integrate activity and expand capabilities in Europe and beyond."

Stephane Clement, general manager of Proservia and ManpowerGroup Solutions France, said: "We are delighted to announce this acquisition that positions Proservia in the top three end user specialists in France and we look forward to growing the brand still further across Europe."

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Magnetek updates 2014 guidance
February 24, 2015 10:07 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc., a supplier of digital power and motion control systems, has provided an update on its 2014 guidance.

Magnetek said in an SEC filing Monday that it expects net income to be impacted by a non-cash pension settlement charge of $37.1 million, which would result in a $33 million to $33.5 million net loss from continuing operations.

The company offered a lump sum payout of pension benefits to 2,970 eligible deferred vested participants during 2014 in an effort to reduce the size, volatility, mortality risk and costs of its pension plan. 75 percent of participants opted for the lump sum payout, and $46.9 million was paid out of pension plan assets. As a result, Magnetek’s pension liability was reduced by the same amount, down to about $30 million net.

Magnetek expects revenue of $29 million for the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with its previously predicted range of $27 to $27.5 million.

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Associated Banc-Corp rings NYSE opening bell
February 24, 2015 10:12 AM
Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp executives this morning rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in recognition of its recent move to the market.

Associated Banc-Corp, which operates Associated Bank branches across Wisconsin and in Illinois and Minnesota, transferred its stock listing from the Nasdaq Global Select Market to the NYSE on December 23. It trades under the ticker symbol “ASB.”

Philip Flynn, president and chief executive officer, and William Hutchinson, board chairman, rang the bell. They  were joined by Associated employee ambassadors Carmela Spurlock of Illinois, Angela O’Neill of Minnesota and Wael Rashidi of Wisconsin, who represented the bank’s 4,300 employees.

“We are pleased to have joined many of the top U.S. banks which trade on the NYSE," said Flynn. “Ringing the bell today is representative of an important step in our journey to deliver increased value to our customers, communities and shareholders.”

Associated Banc-Corp has $27 billion in assets and is the largest Wisconsin-based bank.

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Northwestern Mutual to add 200 more employees at 411 building
February 24, 2015 10:26 AM
Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. has expanded its hiring plans for its new space in the 411 East Wisconsin building in downtown Milwaukee.

The company, which in January signed a lease for 56,320 square feet of office space at the 411 building, said last month it would add 250 employees in the space in 2015. In a new earnings release, Northwestern Mutual upped that figure to 450. Many of the new employees will work on enhancing the company’s technological experience for its policy holders.

“What we originally leased at the 411 building will be used to accommodate these 450 jobs,” said John Gardner, senior public relations consultant at Northwestern Mutual. “It’s just a matter of our growth in that area and the commitment we’ve made to enhance the technology we provide our clients.”

The 450 jobs are in addition to the 1,900 employees Northwestern Mutual plans to hire by 2030 at the new 32-story, 1.1 million-square-foot headquarters building it is currently constructing on its headquarters campus in downtown Milwaukee.

Northwestern Mutual also reported record 2014 revenue of $26.7 billion, up from $25.9 billion in 2013.

The company’s 2014 net income was $679 million, down from $802 million in 2013. Its operating income was $6.1 billion, up from $5.7 billion in 2013.

Northwestern Mutual now has $1.5 trillion of life insurance in force, up five percent over 2013. It managed more than $87 billion in client investment assets last year, up 12 percent over 2013.

The company expects to pay out $5.5 billion in dividends to policyowners in 2015.

"We continue to grow and evolve, yet one thing remains the same: We are committed to providing unsurpassed financial strength and the best long-term product value for our millions of policyowners and clients," said John Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual chairman and chief executive officer. "It's clear that consumers are responding to our comprehensive financial planning approach, which integrates insurance and investment solutions.

"There is growing hunger for comprehensive financial planning, and our results show we are uniquely positioned to help people both protect and grow their wealth.”

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Purple Feet Wines acquired by wine distribution group
February 24, 2015 10:29 AM
Pewaukee-based Purple Feet Wines LLC has been acquired by Glen Allen, Va.-based The Winebow Group LLC, a leading importer and distribution house of wines and spirits for restaurants and retailers.

Purple Feet, which was founded in 1997 by Mark Bausch and Christopher Weyland, distributes fine wines and spirits across Wisconsin. The companies will “combine their efforts in Wisconsin” and operate as Purple Feet Wines, a member of The Winebow Group, they said in a release.

Joe Siler will oversee Purple Feet as senior vice president of the Midwest region for The Winebow Group. Melanie Denhart will assume the role of vice president, general manager for Purple Feet and Andy Rothbaum will manage the portfolio as director of brand management for the Midwest region.

"We congratulate The Winebow Group on the acquisition of our company," Bausch said. "Christopher and I have had the supreme pleasure to have worked side-by-side with our talented and dedicated sales representatives, managers, and support staff. We will forever miss the special relationships we have built with these folks, our incredible supplier partners, and our supportive retail partners over the past 17 plus years.

"As a subsidiary of The Winebow Group, Purple Feet Wines and its staff will benefit from an expanded offering of exciting brands and portfolios of highly respected wines and spirits, and increased levels of service and coverage. Indeed, the future continues to be very bright for Purple Feet Wines, and for that, we are very comfortable and proud to be passing on our life's work to the highly respected organization."

According to The Winebow Group, which is a portfolio company of Brockway Moran & Partners and Brazos Private Equity Partners founded in 2014 with the merger of two wine companies, Purple Feet’s focus on high customer service standards and its devotion to fine wine culture align the companies well.

The acquisition will allow The Winebow Group to expand its Midwest presence. It now has a distribution network covering 16 states.

“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Purple Feet Wines to our family, and we look forward to working with the impressive team to expand their operations in the Wisconsin market,” said David Townsend, president and chief executive officer of The Winebow Group.

“We are excited about the addition of Purple Feet Wines,” said Ari Zur, a partner at Brockway Moran & Partners. “The partnership expands The Winebow Group’s geographic reach, enabling the combined business to offer industry leading service to its customers and suppliers. The acquisition represents the eighth add-on acquisition since our initial investment in 2011 and we remain focused on continuing the growth of The Winebow Group both organically and through acquisitions.”

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ZBB Energy's loss widens in 2Q
February 24, 2015 10:33 AM
Menomonee Falls-based ZBB Energy Corp. reported a fiscal second quarter net loss of $3.5 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a second quarter 2014 net loss of $2.3 million, or 13 cents per share.

The company, which develops renewable energy power platforms and hybrid vehicle control systems, reported an operating loss of $3.3 million, compared with an operating loss of $2.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Second quarter revenue was $300,654, down from $961,456 in the second quarter of 2014.

The company had $27.7 million in total assets as of the end of the second quarter, which it said could be used with other potential sources of cash to fund operations through the third quarter of fiscal year 2016.

ZBB announced a multi-million dollar purchase power agreement that will use integrate solar photovoltaics with its technologies to provide power to a 350+ unit condominium complex in Honolulu. The company pointed to PPA as a new revenue stream, and said its PPA projects could be bundled into investments that would be attractive to high-yield income investors.

“While near-term revenue is down relative to last year, we are very encouraged by the progress of our sales and product development initiatives that underpin our future revenue growth,” said Eric Apfelbach, chief executive officer.  “As an example, we announced our first project where we have taken on the role of energy supplier through a PPA structure. This important strategic change is a reflection of ZBB’s broad capability and we believe will help to accelerate growth. We are also encouraged by our previously announced wins in the commercial and industrial space and with the increased pipeline of activity that should translate into a meaningful ramp in revenue.  Our GridStrong product continues to perform well and is being slotted into multiple new utility evaluations. Longer term, we believe our Megawatt-hour scale products will prove to be well suited to meet the needs for large scale projects in the utility market.”

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From the issue: Wealthcare offers financial coaching for millennials
February 24, 2015 10:35 AM
Millennials are used to paying monthly subscription fees for a variety of services, from Netflix to BarkBox.

Financial coach David Wickert tapped into that model when building his Pewaukee-based company, Wealthcare LLC. The fee-only financial advisory firm is geared toward millennials and their money needs, from setting up retirement accounts to paying off student loans. He charges a monthly fee for the services.

“I am Netflix for personal finance,” Wickert said.

Read more in the new issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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Restructuring, foreign currency translation ding Brady Corp.
February 24, 2015 10:40 AM
Milwaukee-based identification solutions manufacturer Brady Corp. reported fiscal second quarter net income of $11.6 million, or 23 cents per share, down from $16.4 million, or 31 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Operating income was $16.8 million, down from $18.3 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $282.6 million, down from $291.2 million in the second quarter of 2014.

According to Brady’s report, total organic sales were up 1.4 percent, but foreign currency translation decreased the company’s sales by 4.3 percent in the quarter. It also took another hit on the cost of consolidating its manufacturing facilities. Restructuring charges were $4.9 million in the quarter, up from $4.3 million in the second quarter of 2013.

“This marks the fourth consecutive quarter of organic sales growth for Brady Corp. and the third consecutive quarter of organic sales growth in our Workplace Safety business,” said J. Michael Nauman, president and chief executive officer. “Our gross profit margin is also stabilizing as we near completion of our facility consolidation activities. Our gross profit margin finished at 48.9 percent, which is a 50 basis point improvement over the first quarter of fiscal 2015. Although our profitability was impacted by costs related to the consolidation of our manufacturing facilities, the level of incremental costs is moderating and we expect completion of these activities by the end of fiscal 2015. We are focused on executing business fundamentals to drive organic sales growth and improve profitability while investing in research and development and sales resources in selected industries, as well as building an enhanced, scalable digital platform that will generate value for Brady and its customers.”

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Molly Dill This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Molly Dill. This bulletin is published every Tuesday morning. Send financial services industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7144.

Additional Resources

» Wisconsin Association of Accountants
» Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
» Wisconsin Association for Financial Professionals

Financial Institutions

» Wisconsin Bankers Association
» The Wisconsin Credit Union League
» Community Bankers of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association

Financial Planning

» Financial Planning Association of Southern Wisconsin
» National Association of Personal Financial Advisors


» Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

Mergers & Acquisitions

» Midwest Business Brokers and Intermediaries
» Association for Corporate Growth - Wisconsin
» Turnaround Management Association - Chicago/Midwest

Other Resources

» Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
» Wisconsin Government Finance Officers Association

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