Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends.
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Oshkosh Corp.: The Wisconsin vehicle manufacturer withstands a second takeover effort from its largest shareholder, and says it’s ready to move forward “without the unnecessary expense and distraction of a proxy contest.” Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who waged a proxy fight for six spots on Oshkosh’s board of directors that failed early this year, made an unsolicited $3 billion bid to buy the company in October. That bid, which included conditions that his slate of candidates be seated on the company’s board, was described as “inadequate” and “opportunistic” by Oshkosh Corp. officials. Icahn, who has alleged that current management has been too passive to respond to the market, set a deadline of last Monday for at least one quarter of Oshkosh Corp. shares to be turned over to him; after just 22 percent of shares are tendered, however, he announces he’ll “move on to other endeavors.” Observers had largely agreed that Icahn’s offer undervalued the company, and they praise Oshkosh for a plan to increase earnings despite an expected drop in Defense spending, which has fueled the company’s dramatic growth in the Fox Valley in recent years. And one observer says that while you “never say never” with Icahn, the odds that he’ll make a third run at Oshkosh drop sharply after his second failure.
UW-Madison: The state’s flagship university sparks debate over a pair of controversial issues at a recent meeting of the UW Board of Regents. First, UW System staff seeks an increase in the cap on non-Wisconsin residents enrolled on its campuses. Institutions must cap those students at 25 percent of the overall enrollment, though that does not include students from Minnesota, who attend UW schools under a tuition reciprocity agreement between the states. A record high enrollment at UW-Madison, however, drove its non-resident enrollment above 25 percent for the first time this year, prompting a request to increase the threshold to 30 percent. The proposal draws a rebuke from some lawmakers, particularly frequent UW critic Rep. Steve Nass, who say it could limit access to in-state students going forward. The regents ultimately strike a compromise, agreeing to lift the threshold to 27.5 percent. The board also agrees to increase the salary ranges for chancellors at Madison and UW-Eau Claire, where searches for new campus leaders are currently ongoing. The move raises the Eau Claire limit to $261,254 annually, while Madison’s climbs to $522,500. The Madison campus also falls in the annual rankings of research expenditures by universities, but at No. 4, it remains among the highest in the country. UW spent more than $1.1 billion on research, and campus officials say the numbers are heading in the right direction despite the slip in the rankings.
Canadian Pacific: The Calgary-based railway company, with its U.S. headquarters in the Twin Cities, announces it will close its intermodal terminal in Milwaukee as part of a broad restructuring plan that will eliminate 4,500 jobs in the next four years. Terminals in Chicago and Toronto are also on the chopping block; Canadian Pacific officials say the closures will reduce its footprint and operating expenses, increase efficiency and reduce overall transit times. An official release from the company did not disclose where the jobs cuts would be made.