Last month we heard a rumor that Milwaukee-based Wipfli (I've been informed it's pronounced WIFF-lee) and Fargo-based Eide Bailly were in merger discussions. Supposedly, Wipfli partners voted on the merger right before Christmas but our source said that prior to the vote "[Wipfli] announced internally that they are merging with Eide Bailly," and that the deal would be effective June 1, 2012. That order of events sounds a little strange and we don't have any internal communication to show you but a second source, a person who is familiar with the situation, confirmed that the deal was "done." This person declined to elaborate on other details.
We really don't have much more to go on as representatives from both firms have not responded to our emails. But as is our wont as it relates to these merger rumors, let's get a snapshot of what a combined Wipfli and Eide Bailly might look like:
- First things first. What's the name? – We hear that Wipfli is trying to shake its old school, boys club reputation but isn't having much luck. This meansthat a snappy new name would be ideal but there isn't much to work with here. "Wipfli Eide Bailly" is fine, I s'pose. "Eide Bailly Wipfli" is a definite no. Personally, I think they should drop the "Eide" and simply go by "The WB" but you know how these old CPAs can be. Other suggested variations are welcome.
- Money. Obviously. – According to the numbers from Accounting Today's 2011 Top 100 Firms list, the combined firm would have revenues north of $260 million, good for 13th place on the list. Ahead of EisnerAmper and behind Plante
- The People – According to the AT list, total employees would be around 2,100, with nearly 200 partners.
- The Work – AT has the fee split for Wipfli across Audit & Assurance, Tax, and Advisory for Wipfli at 37%, 31%, 32% respectively and 44%, 36%, 10% (an additional 10% is "Other") for Eide Bailly.
- Locations – There isn't a lot of overlap between the two firms' locations as Wipfli currently has locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Washington. Eide Bailly is MIA in all those states with the exception of Minnesota where it has Minneapolis and Mankato locations. In total they would have shop set up in twelve states.
- Culture – Honestly, I don't squat about these two firms, aside from the aforementioned attempt by Wipfli to shake its current old boys image. The only other little bit of gossip we heard was that a former lead partner at Wipfli left for Eide Bailly under, shall we say, tumultuous circumstances. It's conceivable that Eide Bailly, who has a dominating presence in many northern states where the Big 4 don't typically roam, would scour the regional campuses for lots of fresh talent and a younger feel. As for Wipfli, they'd find themselves in tough competition for talent in places like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Chicago, thus making for a slightly different (read: old) environment. There would probably be a little bit of a clash in a few offices but again, with so little office overlap, it might not be that bad.
Anyway, that's basically what The WB would look like. Of course, if you've got more information, we'd love to hear it. Email us the scoop or tell us about either of the firms in the comments.
The word on the street is that the new firm will be called EB Wipfli (kinda has a ring, doesn't it?) and that the merger will be officially announced tomorrow.