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BOWE SYSTEC Merges US Business with BELL HOWELL, U.S.A.

Press release from the issuing company

Augsburg 20th December 2002. BoWE SYSTEC AG, Security number: 523970, Augsburg, Europe's market leader in high performance inserting systems and a leading manufacturer of high performance systems for the processing of plastic cards, has completed the acquisition of 50 % of BELL + HOWELL. BoWE SYSTEC is merging it’s U.S organization, BoWE SYSTEC Inc., based in Hauppauge, New York, USA with it’s largest competitor, BELL + HOWELL of Lincolnwood, Illinois, USA. The current activities of BoWE SYSTEC Inc. and BELL + HOWELL will be combined under the control of a Joint-Venture company with BoWE SYSTEC holding a 50 % share. The company will be named BoWE BELL + HOWELL. This is the most significant action by BoWE SYSTEC in establishing it’s presence in North America, the largest single market in the paper management industry. BoWE SYSTEC Inc., USA, has enjoyed continuous growth during the last several years realizing sales of $ 45 Mio. with 240 employees in fiscal year 2001. BELL + HOWELL with 2.300 employees generated $ 353 Mio in 2001 in its Mail and Messaging Technologies (Inserting systems), Mail Delivery Systems (MDS), Scanner and Financial Service (BHFS) business sectors. Mail and Messaging Technologies deals with the development, manufacture, marketing and servicing of inserting and sorting machines and concentrates on the North America market in particular. The MDS sector develops and manufactures systems for postal mailing, in particular, state-run postal clients, while Mail Mobile provides automated mail distribution systems in large offices. The "Scanner" sector deals with the manufacture and marketing of a range of high speed document scanners. While BHFS is BELL + HOWELL’s leasing business which provides financing for it’s products. BELL + HOWELL has a particularly well-developed sales and service network of 1.400 employees for it’s Inserting business. This infrastructure will allow BoWE SYSTEC to further penetrate the market while offering its customers the highest level of support in the industry. This acquisition provides BoWE SYSTEC with greater access to the world’s largest single market through a nationwide sales and service network and increases its estimated market share from 12 % to more than 40%. In addition, the merger gives BELL + HOWELL access to BoWE SYSTEC’s state-of-the-art Production Card and Mailing products. Both parties are excited about the benefits that this merger will bring to North American customers. "The acquisition of BELL + HOWELL gives us a wonderful opportunity to serve our customers with Best of Breed products and superior customer support through the most well-developed sales and service network in the industry. It is particularly important to gain this competitive advantage in a business as dynamic as, ours and we are confident that this will prove to be one of the most positive developments for our industry", said Dr. Claus Gerckens, CEO of BoWE SYSTEC.