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Punch Details Xeikon Activities, Confirms Relations with MAN Roland & IBM

Press release from the issuing company

Punch International NV signs definitive agreement to take over the bankrupt Xeikon NV and the activities of Xeikon Inc. in the USA and Xeikon Ltd. in Japan. Sint-Martens-Latem, April 15, 2002 -- Punch International NV, EMS-provider with registered seat at St-Martens-Latem, Belgium, Friday signed the final agreement to take over the assets of the bankrupt Xeikon NV. This agreement also includes the takeover of the activities of Xeikon, Inc., the sales and after-sales division of Xeikon in the USA, and of Xeikon Ltd., the sales department in Japan. Punch International also concluded a sale & lease back agreement concerning the factory buildings in Belgium and France. The income from this operation will be used for financing the takeover of Xeikon, i.e. the payment of the purchase price and the investment in working capital, and for the improvement of the capital structure of Punch. Other scenarios for the improvement of the capital structure of the corporation are also looked at. March 7 2002, Punch got the preliminary admission from the liquidators, allied to the Commercial Court of Antwerp, Belgium, to take over the assets of the bankrupt Xeikon NV. These assets include: the (commercial) name Xeikon, the toner factory in Heultje, the production activity in Mortsel, the land property in Lier, Belgium, all of the intangible assets (especially the Intellectual Property Rights) and all of the stock. The final agreement was signed this week, making Punch the owner of all the aforesaid assets. 223 former Xeikon employees restarted their job in the new company. In the mean time Punch and Xeikon are restarting the company and are preparing the move of the activities to the new building in Lier, Belgium. The new building in Lier has 41,000m_ of production and office space and will for the most part be occupied by the R&D-, marketing & sales-, and the production department of Xeikon, and the various supporting services. Other activities of Punch, among which the headquarters of the business unit Global United Display Systems, will also move to Lier. A leasing contract for the new Xeikon building in Lier was closed. Xeikon International is prominently present on the IPEX exhibition in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where it presents its renewed structure and product range to an enthusiastic public. This exhibition, running from April 9 to 17, is next to drupa in Germany the most important graphical arts exhibition in the world. Xeikon, together with sister company Strobbe Graphics, is present there on a booth of more than 600m_ showing its range of web fed digital color printing systems. In a press conference on the IPEX exhibition, attended by more than 100 journalists, Xeikon announced that in the future it will only concentrate on the development and sale of the web fed digital color printing systems or DCP systems, while the planned market introduction of the sheet fed CSP system will be put on hold. Punch and Xeikon want to dedicate the available human and financial resources to the successful range of DCP machines, for which they are still the standard in the world of digital printing. Lucien De Schampelaere, founder and former chairman of Xeikon, will resume his position as chairman of the Board of Directors. In this way, the company hopes to take full advantage of the extensive knowledge and well-known name of Mr. De Schampelaere in the digital printing world, its technologies and its customers. In the final agreement the takeover of the activities of Xeikon, Inc. in the USA and Xeikon Ltd. in Japan is also included. Xeikon, Inc. is the sales and after-sales department of Xeikon in the United States of America. This company has about 72 employees in color printing systems and is located in Chicago in the state of Illinois. Strobbe, Inc. is the sales and after-sales department for the Strobbe Graphics CtP-machines of Punch in the USA. Punch also took over this company in April 2002. Both divisions will be integrated and will represent the graphical business unit of Punch in the USA. Xeikon Ltd. in Japan employs some 18 people who work on the Asian market and is located in Tokyo. In other regions in the world, Xeikon is represented in various ways: in the Benelux through direct selling, in other European countries via agreements with VAD partners or Value Added Distributors. The cooperation with former OEM partners like MAN Roland and IBM is also reinstated. The new Xeikon distribution model was presented at IPEX and will enable Xeikon, with a renewed strategic focus, to reach break even in 2002. Punch has the utmost confidence that Xeikon will continue and even strengthen its world fame as the number one in digital web fed color printing systems. As announced on the press conference of March 1 2002, the balance structure of Punch has changed a lot due to the strong internal and external growth since 2000. Therefore the company announced on this occasion to the press and analysts that it wants to realize a project of solvency improvement in 2002. This week a sale & lease back agreement was finalized for the factory buildings of Punch in Belgium and France. The income from this operation, EUR 26 million including a realized surplus value of more than EUR 10 million, will be used for the financing of the takeover of Xeikon and also for the restrengthening of the balance structure. At this moment Punch is also looking at other scenarios, including a possible capital increase in 2002. Today however, Punch is discussing this issue with various advising parties but no final decision has been taken. About Punch International Founded in 1982, Punch International produces and assembles components, subsystems and finished products for "Original Equipment Manufacturers", for the consumer and the professional electronics industry. In 2001 Punch achieved a turnover of almost EUR 110 million, and a 101.8% increase in the current profit to EUR 8.5 million. The group operates 13 production units employing more than 2,300 personnel in 8 countries. Punch International has been listed on the First Market of the Brussels Stock Exchange, now Euronext, since 1999, where it is part of the NextPrime index. About Xeikon International Headquartered in Mortsel, Belgium, Xeikon develops, produces and sells high quality digital color printing systems. Xeikon is the world’s leading provider of production digital color printing solutions for professional applications in the commercial printing, production variable data printing, packaging and label printing and special applications markets. These systems and their related consumables have been specifically designed to meet the quality, speed, reliability, cost and variable content requirements of the global digital printing market At the end of 2001, over 2200 Xeikon color systems were installed worldwide. For more information about Xeikon or its products, please call 32 3 443 1309 or visit Xeikon's web site: http://www.xeikon.com.