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  • Barloworld: Melles Griot Sale Being Finalized
Mar 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 28, 2007 -- Industrial brand management company Barloworld Ltd. announced yesterday that negotiations for its Melles Griot subsidiary have reached an "advanced stage" and are expected to be concluded soon.

Melles Griot, a manufacturer of optical systems, lasers and other photonics devices, comprises three primary business groups. Its Laser Group and Photonics Components Group are located in Carlsbad, Calif., while the Optics Group has its headquarters in Rochester, N.Y. Melles Griot has been owned by Barloworld since 1988.

South Africa-based Barloworld's group companies are organized under the broad headings of Equipment (which includes its Caterpillar dealerships); Industrial Distribution (distributing fork lifts and related warehouse equipment under dealerships representing the brands Hyster and Freightliner and Ditch Witch, which makes trenching equipment); Motor (which includes automotive dealerships, Avis and Budget car rental businesses and fleet services); cement and lime (Pretoria Portland Cement Ltd.and Pretoria Portland Cement Lime); coatings (includes providing specialized coatings to industrial and furniture markets, paint brushes and other supplies through Hamilton Brush, architectural coatings, automotive coatings and the Bristol paint brand) and Scientific.

Melles Griot and Barloworld's laboratory business operate under the corporate title of Barloworld Scientific. Barloworld is also planning to sell its laboratory division separately from Melles Griot and expects that sale to be completed by the end of 2007.

Barloworld announced in December that it was selling its majority stake in Pretoria Portland Cement Ltd. (PPC) and divesting itself of underperforming businesses in an attempt to increase returns to shareholders. Those include Melles Griot, the laboratory division and its Freightliner, DitchWitch and Vacuum Technology businesses. The company is also selling its Bristol paint stores network in Australia.

"A number of steps are also being taken to further enhance shareholder returns, including downsizing the corporate office, implementing stricter capital allocation processes and improving the performance of the remaining businesses," Barloworld said in a statement. The company has since returned 1 billion rand (approximately $138 million) to shareholders in a special dividend.

Barloworld said yesterday that the divestiture of PPC is at an "advanced stage" and it will hold a general meeting of shareholders to consider the PPC unbundling sometime around the end of May. If the sale is approved by shareholders and the deal gets regulatory approval, Barloworld said it could be completed by the end of June.

The sale of PPC will also allow Barloworld to finalize the details of its plan to appoint more senior black officials and attract more black investors, the company said.

In January, Barloworld announced it will be appointing more black board members and executive directors under a broadbased Black Economic Enpowerment transaction. The company had been under affirmative action pressure from the Public Investment Corp., which criticized Barloworld for its lack of black executive directors and shareholders.

When company chairman Warren Clewlow's retirement was announced at the annual general meeting in January, Barloworld named human rights lawyer and activist Dumisa Ntsebeza, a non-executive director since 1999, as interim chairman and also appointed the first black executive director in its 105-year history, Isaac Shongwe. Shongwe, a senior executive in the logistics business, was also appointed CEO of Barloworld Logistics Africa.

Also at the January annual general meeting, the PPC board announced that Martin Shaw, one of the independent non-executive directors on its board, has been appointed interim chairman until a new black chairman could be named. Both PPC and Barloworld also said they had a plan to sell up to 15 percent of their shares to black investors.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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