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Heidi Shaffer, Published January 06 2012

Eide Bailly to merge with Wipfli

FARGO – Eide Bailly announced plans Friday to merge with Wipfli, another prominent accounting and consulting firm.

The combined company, which will officially merge June 1 pending regulatory approval, will be named EB Wipfli LLP and will rank among the nation’s top 15 accounting firms.

The merger will help Eide Bailly, which started in Fargo in 1917, expand its service east to Wipfli’s customers, many of which are located in Wisconsin and Illinois, said Jerry Topp, Eide Bailly managing partner and CEO.

The merged firm will serve more than 70,000 clients from 41 offices across the west-central United States and two offices in India.

Eide Bailly, which employs about 300 people in Fargo, has grown by about 15 percent each year, Topp said. The merger is expected to double the company’s size, he added.

A few employees may change locale, but the number of workers in Fargo isn’t expected to change, Topp said. In fact, the merger may grow the Fargo office.

“We aren’t doing this to cut back or scale back,” he said. “We’re putting more resources in place to grow.”

Eide Bailly’s Minneapolis practice should double in size as a result of the merger.

Consulting makes up about 10 percent of Eide Bailly’s business and about 40 percent of Wipfli’s, so the merger will likely bring more services to the merged company’s customers, Topp said.

Topp will serve as the chairman of the merged firm with Rick Dreher, Wipfli CEO, as the new managing partner and CEO.

Wipfli is a firm similar in size, scope, culture and service philosophy, Topp said.

“So it’s kind of an extension of our practice,” he said.

The companies will file their regulatory applications over the next 30 to 60 days with the expectation to officially merge early this summer after regulatory approval.

Readers can reach Forum business editor Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511