Johnson Controls CEO pushes back against Hillary Clinton ad

AP News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2016 4:33 PM

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The chief executive of a Wisconsin company that came under fire from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for planning to shift its corporate headquarters to Ireland said Friday that the tax savings didn't drive the deal.

Clinton filmed a commercial across the street from Johnson Controls Inc.'s battery business headquarters in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale the day after her Feb. 11 debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In it, she says she wants to charge an "exit fee" to companies that receive taxpayer assistance to grow and then shift their headquarters overseas to minimize their tax bills.

Johnson Controls is merging with Ireland-based Tyco International. The company has said it expects to achieve tax savings of $150 million.

Alex Molinaroli, CEO and chairman of Johnson Controls, told a gathering of business leaders the main point of the merger has much less to do with taxes and more about creating a one-stop shopping environment for building owners to buy products, ranging from Johnson Controls' heating and cooling products to Tyco's building security and fire suppression systems, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1pR85Zh ).

"It would be irresponsible for us as a company to not take advantage of the opportunities that come along, but that is not the reason we are merging with Tyco. We're merging with Tyco because we'll be the undisputed leader in building technology for buildings. Period, full stop," Molinaroli said at a breakfast hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Molinaroli said he was in his office when Clinton came to record the ad but didn't get the chance to talk to her.

"I walked out the door," he said. "She —the candidate —was across the street, and I started walking across the parking lot, but they were very efficient. They came and went pretty quick."

Molinaroli also said he expects that commercial could get more airtime locally as the April 5 Wisconsin presidential primary nears.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com