Clifton Gunderson has acquired Farrell & Associates, expanding the firm’s footprint in Illinois.

Farrell, based in Rockford, Ill., is Milwaukee, Wis.-based Clifton Gunderson’s ninth office in Illinois. Managing partner Steve DeBruyn and partner-in-charge Todd Etheridge will lead the new Rockford office. The acquisition of Farrell & Associates is effective Nov. 1, 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed.

This is the fifth merger and acquisition announcement for Clifton Gunderson since May 2010. Earlier this year, the firm announced it had acquired St. Louis, Mo.-based Humes & Barrington, Philadelphia-based Stockton Bates, Evanston, Ill.-based U.S. Tax Advantage, and the former BKD office in Merrillville, Ind.

Clifton Gunderson plans to retain the existing staff and partners in Farrell’s Rockford office, including founding partner Robert R. Farrell and two other partners, about 14 professionals, and three administrative staff members.

Farrell told WebCPA that he had been looking to combine with a larger firm for about three years to broaden his client base from small family-owned businesses to nonprofits, financial institutions, and governmental clients. Most of the firms he had been talking to were in the CPAmerica network.

“We’ve been aware of Clifton Gunderson because of their reputation and the fact that they’re around Rockford,” said Farrell. “We had been talking to another firm that was interested in merging.”

He decided to talk to Allan Koltin, CEO of PDI Global Inc., about the type of firm he was seeking. and Koltin introduced him to Clifton Gunderson, and advised both firms on the arrangement.

“We said we would be interested in talking with them to find out what they had to offer,” he said. “They came in and we started discussing what we were and who they were. We talked to them about our client base and how we are set up. They felt that we are a compatible type of practice and strategically they were looking to expand their practice in northern Illinois. Rockford was a community where they did not have an office, so that’s where we went from there. We worked on how things would come together, what would be done, how the partners would come in, and all of the various issues about how we would coordinate working together. We were able to come to terms and agreement, and so we’re solidifying it as of Nov. 1.”

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