Two of the largest accounting firms operating in Minnesota are poised to become one.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Wipfli, LLP on Friday announced plans to merge with Fargo, North Dakota-based Eide Bailly, LLP.

The merger is expected to be completed on June 1, pending regulatory and final partner approval, and the combined firm will operate as EB Wipfli, LLP.

In Minnesota, Eide Bailly has offices in Minneapolis and Mankato, and Wipfli has locations in Edina and St. Paul. Wipfli spokeswoman Jennifer Hacker Olsen said Friday that the firms plan to eventually make the Twin Cities the headquarters of EB Wipfli, LLP, although the headquarters location is essentially a formality, as they don't plan to physically consolidate existing operations. The two firms' Twin Cities offices contain the largest concentration of their associates, which is why making the Twin Cities the formal headquarters would be appropriate, she said.

According to Olsen, the firms don't plan to cut staff as a result of the merger. "Our intention is to grow versus decrease our size," she said.

The combined firm will serve more than 70,000 clients, employ 301 partners, and operate 41 offices in the west-central United States and two offices in India. It will have more than $314 million in revenue, making it one of the 15 largest accounting firms in the country. Currently, Eide Bailly is the eighth-largest accounting firm in Minnesota based on CPAs in the state, of whom there were 90 as of April 2011. Wipfli is the 13th-largest with 52 Minnesota CPAs.

According to Rick Dreher, managing partner and CEO of Wipfli, the two firms have been in talks about a possible merger for about a year. He told Twin Cities Business that the merger will help the combined firm grow and keep pace with clients' expectations. The deal will also help expand the firms' geographic reach, add specialties in additional industries, and help attract talented employees. "In a nutshell, this merger will give us the opportunity to do more for our clients, and that's important to us," he said.

 

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