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Eide Bailly Expected to Merge with Wipfli

January 4, 2012

Two top 100 accounting firms, Eide Bailly and Wipfli, are expected to merge, possibly as soon as Friday.

Rumors of the merger have been flying in recent weeks, although neither firm returned phone calls Wednesday seeking comment. The combined firm would be called EB Wipfli and would have about $265 million in combined revenue, according to one source who asked not to be identified. Eide Bailly ranked 24th on Accounting Today’s 2011 list of the Top 100 Firms, with annual revenues of $151.8 million, while Wipfli ranked 26th with revenues of $114.54 million.

The combined firm would be jointly run by Eide Bailly managing partner and CEO Jerry Topp, possibly as chairman, and Wipfli managing partner Rick Dreher, perhaps as CEO, although there has not yet been an official announcement.

The merger would allow Fargo, N.D.-based Eide Bailly and Milwaukee-based Wipfli to expand both their geographic footprint and services, according to two M&A experts who said they were not involved in the deal, but were asked to comment.

“I think it’s strategically one of the better mergers I have come across in the last couple of years because the two firms complement each other in areas where they have strengths,” said August J. Aquila of Aquila Global Advisors. “Wipfli would bring consulting services to the merger and Eide Bailly has a geographically larger footprint.”

“Such a merger would not surprise me,” said management consultant Jay Nisberg. “Both firms have excellent reputations for quality work and quality professional staff. Their geographic presence lends to an amalgamation. In this case a merger would allow for significant complementary niche building and economies of scale. This would increase both firms’ ability to attract more sophisticated clients and capture a major foothold in Middle to Midwestern America. The amalgamation process will be interesting to watch if this merger occurs.”

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