Milwaukee-based accounting firm Clifton Gunderson is acquiring and merging in several other firms as it expands its footprint to several new markets, including Philadelphia, New York and Indiana.

On the international front, the firm has acquired U.S. Tax Advantage, an international tax consulting services firm with offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee and Houston. The acquisition took effect on May 1. Through the acquisition, Clifton Gunderson will add 14 tax professionals to the firm, including partners Mark Gasbarra and Lester Fuwa. Gasbarra joins Clifton Gunderson as managing partner of Global Tax Services and brings with him three decades of international tax experience serving the complex tax needs of Fortune 500 companies.

“Part of our strategy is to expand strategically, so we developed a strategic plan related to mergers, both geographically and from a talent perspective, with firms in the service areas we really wanted to strengthen,” said Clifton Gunderson CEO Krista McMasters. “These mergers are all about following that strategy.”

In the Philadelphia area, Clifton Gunderson has combined with Stockton Bates, a CPA firm with offices in Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pa., and Haddonfield, N.J. The combination became effective June 1. Through this combination, three Stockton Bates partners, including John Gallagher, Bruce Lynch and James Smith, as well as 29 professionals, will join Clifton Gunderson.

In Indiana, Clifton Gunderson is acquiring the Merrillville, Ind., office of BKD LLP. The office has a strong tax and assurance practice and will strengthen Clifton Gunderson's presence in the Chicagoland area. The combination of BKD-Merrillville and Clifton Gunderson is effective June 1. Through this acquisition, Clifton Gunderson adds six assurance and tax professionals, including tax partner John Matthiesen.

“The BKD one is big for Clifton Gunderson and really strengthens their hold on the Illinois market,” said PDI Global CEO Allan Koltin, who consults with the firm on mergers. “I think with former CEO Carl George now spending a majority of his time on mergers, this is just the start of them being much more active in this area. Look for more to follow.”

Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed. Clifton Gunderson ranked No. 14 on Accounting Today’s list of the Top 100 Firms, at $251 million. McMasters expects the three mergers and acquisitions, along with another in the St. Louis area to be announced later this week, to put the firm in the $280 million range. She believes the firm may also do other mergers, particularly to strengthen its tax practice and to expand to other geographic markets.

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