Tuesday Trends sample: Spectrum Brands rising, Oshkosh Corp. mixed and venture capital falling

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Spectrum Brands: The Madison-based company — which counts Rayovac, Remington, Cutter and Dingo among its brands — announces it will move from the city’s west side to a new facility in nearby Middleton. The move into the $25 million facility is set to happen late next year and bring 60 to 70 jobs with it. But the impact goes far beyond those numbers as the company discloses it was nearing a decision to relocate its headquarters and the Remington brand — totaling some 300 jobs — to Florida. Only Rayovac — the company’s former name — would have remained under that proposal. But company officials credit a $4 million loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for swaying the decision back in Dane County’s favor. In addition to the current Madison location, the company employs more than 500 Wisconsinites at battery manufacturing plants in Fennimore and Portage.


Oshkosh Corp.: The vehicle manufacturer and its union workforce — who were locked in a dispute over a new contract as recently as October — are trying to fend off a bid by the company’s largest investor for more seats on the Oshkosh Corp. board, saying the change could dramatically impact the area. The company has grown rapidly in recent years from fulfilling military contract orders — it’s the largest employers in the city and bolsters a wide range of related business activity. But as shareholders convene for their annual meeting this week amid declining company profits, billionaire investor Carl Icahn is seeking six seats on the company’s 13-seat board of directors. Local officials worry that Icahn’s involvement could lead to selling off part or all of the company in an effort to increase shareholder profits. The company has nominated its own candidates to the board, and officials remain hopeful that shareholders will support current company management instead of Icahn.


Venture capital: With a proposal to help boost venture capital investment in the state still mired in the legislative process, backers point to the latest report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association as evidence that the state needs to act in the venture market. The report says Wisconsin companies raised $72 million in venture capital in 2011, a 40 percent decline from 2010 levels. That coincides with an 22 percent increase in venture investment nationally, while a Wisconsin Technology Council analysis shows the state falling behind similarly sized states when it comes to venture capital.