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Milwaukee Business & Commercial Law Blog

The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee gets closer to bankruptcy

It has been a turbulent time for the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which is facing a number of lawsuits and trying to declare bankruptcy. Specifically, they are facing civil fraud lawsuits -- more than a dozen of them -- that are related to the way that they handled cases revolving around sexual abuse. On top of that, they face another lawsuit of cemetery funds that reaches all the way up to $60 million.

The archdiocese got one step closer to getting to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, though, something they have been working on for three years. A judge was asked to look at a reorganization plan, and, while the judge did not approve it, she did say that the disclosure agreement that goes along with it could be given to the creditors. They could then vote on the matter. They could not do so before because they did not have enough information to make a decision, which this agreement would give them.

2 banks with similar corporate strategy reorganize through merger

An important business merger will affect one of the most famous investment banks in Wisconsin, Robert W. Baird & Co. The bank issued a public statement that it has completed a merger agreement with with McAdams Wright Ragen Inc., an out-of-state investment advisory firm that touts over $10 billion in actively managed assets. Both firms expressed their pleasure in reaching the merger agreement and stated that the similarity of their corporate strategy would allow the two businesses to mesh well together.

McAdams Wright Ragen provides a variety of investment services to its customer base, including investment advice, equity research, stock and bond trading and other asset management services. Its offices are based in the northwestern United States where it employs 180 people. In comparison, Baird employs over 2,900 people and has over $100 billion in actively managed assets.

Are larger Wisconsin hospitals really better?

There has been something of a trend lately for hospitals to merge together, a trend that has even spread to Wisconsin. The idea behind the mergers is that the larger hospitals are simply able to offer better services to those who need them. They have far more resources, and they have very experienced doctors and nurses on staff. They can also sometimes trim costs and consolidate things so that it is cheaper and easier to run the hospitals. This can be good for both the staff and the patients.

However, some people question whether all of these mergers are really going to be a good thing, saying that it is still too soon to know for sure. They point to the fact that hospitals that control a larger percentage of the market share are in the driver's seat, so to speak. They have taken out the competition by absorbing them, so they can then increase prices. In particular, the cost for insurance companies has gone up. While some individuals may not care about this, they should keep in mind that the change could be reflected in their premiums.

Two Wisconsin banks will merge

A recent statement coming from two Wisconsin banks indicates that they will merge in the near future. The banks in question are Bay View Federal Savings and Loan Association and First Federal Bank of Wisconsin. An exact date has not yet been given as to when they will merge since they have not yet been fully cleared to do so, but it is expected to take place in the middle of the year. While some mergers lead to new names for the corporations involved, the banks have announced that they simply plan to be known as the First Federal Bank of Wisconsin after the merger is complete.

When combined, the two are going to be worth around $255 million in assets. This is a massive increase for both sides. However, it was not money alone that spurred them to make this move, as is often the case. Instead, the officials have said that their goal is to provide more options and services for all of the members of the two institutions, and they believe that merging is going to give them the ability to do it. At the same time, they do want to expand, so this is the first step in that process.

Are ingredients used in food trade secrets or public information?

Many people are becoming more conscious of the foods they eat. They want to know what is in their foods, especially when it comes to food additives. However, food manufacturers must be able to maintain their trade secrets as well. How much is really disclosed to the public when it comes to food ingredients and additives?

The answer is part of a 1958 regulation passed by Congress. Known as GRAS, it is an exemption for certain food additives that are "Generally Recognized As Safe." Because this exemption was passed nearly 60 years ago, it doesn't include many of the additives used today. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must give its approval for the use of food additives. However, food additives that are part of the GRAS exemption do not need approval.

Is Wisconsin Energy piquing Warren Buffet's interest?

According to a letter sent to shareholders of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., last week, at least one more major acquisition is planned. The letter was sent by billionaire Warren Buffet. This letter has led one major news outlet to wonder if utilities in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin are the next possible targets.

On Tuesday, March 4, Bloomberg News reported that Alliant Energy Corp. and Wisconsin Energy Corp. could be targeted by MidAmerican because their profiles fit the type of companies that would interest Buffet. Bloomberg reported this information after investment analysts with Morningstar Inc. and Gabelli & Co. listed the two companies, as well as a utility in Topeka, Kansas, as possible acquisitions. The companies have stable outlooks and good returns.

Sexual assault victim cannot file claim in archdiocese bankrutpcy

A few weeks ago, we told you about the Milwaukee Archdiocese Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection at the beginning of 2011. The reason for the bankruptcy filing was the increasing number of claims of sexual abuse.

Last month, a reorganization plan was filed with the court, which would put $3.7 million aside as compensation for 128 plaintiffs who were allegedly sexually abused by priests. There could be more compensation available if there is litigation against the church's insurance company.

Time Warner Cable acquired by Comcast

One of the nation's largest cable companies, Comcast, has announced its plans to buy Time Warner Cable. With the acquisition, the company will now have $86.8 billion in revenue annually. The acquisition must still be approved by regulators and Comcast has said that if needed, it will get rid of some of its assets, including systems that provide services for 3 million subscribers.

Comcast will allegedly receive Time Warner Cable systems in Wisconsin, several other states and in New York City. With those systems, 11 million subscribers will be added. Time Warner Cable addition of New York City will also provide Comcast with competition for Cablevision.

Anonymous blogger target of trade secrets lawsuit

When most people from Wisconsin think about trade secrets litigation, they probably think about noncompete clauses and confidentiality agreements between an employee and an employer. They might think about China or another foreign country trying to steal trades secrets through the Internet. However, one hedge fund founder has decided to go after an anonymous blogger who allegedly revealed the fund's trade secrets on ValueWalk, a website about financial topics.

According to the lawsuit, information was released on ValueWalk about Greenlight Capital's plan to invest in Micron, something the hedge fund did not want revealed until a week later. When the information was released, the stock price jumped, which angered and frustrated Greenlight.

Archdiocese of Milwaukee proposes bankruptcy reorganization

A dismal chapter in the history of the Catholic Church has taken another grim turn in light of efforts of the archbishop of Milwaukee to make a public announcement regarding a massive bankruptcy reorganization. The plan, an effort to respond to lawsuits of sexual abuse by clergy members, does not appear to address the ongoing unpaid bills brought on by the restructuring arrangement, totaling a $7 million debt.

Allegations imply the archdiocese used some of their property as collateral in order to borrow from its Cemetery Perpetual Trust fund, the identical fund that had been removed from church records in attempts to stave off bankruptcy. Reportedly the $57 million that has been deposited in the Catholic Cemetery Care fund to be dispersed among abuse victims will be the subject of argument in a circuit court of appeals in Chicago this summer. In the meantime, the archdiocese is plagued by continuous reluctance of insurance companies to dole out compensation, which they claim is not allowed for intentional acts