Baird Financial Corp., parent of the investment bank and broker-dealer Robert W. Baird & Co., said Monday that it has agreed to buy Granville PLC for up to $54.6 million.

London-based Granville is an independent investment bank with $1.2 billion of funds under management. Its strengths are in the technology and staffing services industries, as well as European private equity.

Baird Financial, which manages more than $38 billion for its retail clients, specializes in middle-market companies. It is based in Milwaukee and has a London office.

Baird said it plans to capitalize on cross-Atlantic mergers in industries where it and Granville both have expertise. "They're strong in the key areas of investment banking in which we are strong," said Terrance Maxwell, director of investment banking at Baird. "We need to have resources that are international in nature."

Upon completion of the acquisition, which is expected to happen at the end of this year, the Granville operation in Europe would be renamed Granville Baird Ltd. and become a subsidiary of Baird Financial.

As part of the agreement, Granville agreed to sell its property lending business, Granville Bank Ltd., to the U.K. merchant bank Close Brothers.

Through Granville Private Equity Managers, which is raising $320 million for investments in the United Kingdom and Germany, Baird also plans to expand its international private equity business.

Baird is owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

--Laura Mandaro

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