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May 23, 1996 - Castle Harlan Investment Group Agrees to Acquire Balfour and ArtCarved Class Ring Businesses

NEW YORK, May 23 -- Castle Harlan, Inc., the New York merchant bank, announced today that its investment partnership, Castle Harlan Partners II, L.P., through a newly-formed company, Class Rings, Inc., has signed agreements to acquire and combine businesses that sell scholastic products, including high school and college class rings designed by Balfour and ArtCarved. The combined transaction is valued at approximately $180 million.


The assets being purchased include the class ring division of CJC Holdings, Inc., of Austin, Texas, and the operations of the Balfour and Gold Lance subsidiaries of Boston-based Town & Country Corporation. Combined annual revenues of these businesses in 1995 was approximately $155 million. Town & Country will continue to have a minority equity interest in the new company.


"The combination of these businesses will enable us to achieve significant cost savings that will create a more competitive company with significant growth potential, and provide a more secure financial structure for management and employees," said David Pittaway, a managing director at Castle Harlan. "With increasing numbers of high school graduates projected in the near future, we have an opportunity for sales growth. Class Rings, Inc., will serve this market with the Balfour organization selling into schools and the other organizations through retail outlets. We believe these companies offer an excellent opportunity for our investors."


The acquisitions are contingent on finalizing financial arrangements and securing regulatory approval.


Castle Harlan Partners II, L.P., is a private equity investment partnership managed by Castle Harlan with capital of $275 million from major corporate and public pension funds, college endowments, foundations and individual investors. Since Castle Harlan's founding in 1987, it has completed acquisitions exceeding $2.5 billion.


Castle Harlan's portfolio companies have included Delaware Management Company, a Philadelphia money-management firm with more than $30 billion under management; Ethan Allen Interiors; Smarte Carte, the airport luggage-cart rental company, and Morton's Restaurant Group, owner of the Morton's of Chicago steakhouses.


Castle Harlan, Inc., was founded by John K. Castle, former president and chief executive officer of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the investment banking firm, and Leonard M. Harlan, founder and former chairman of The Harlan Company, a diversified real estate and corporate finance advisory firm recently acquired by Ernst & Young, the accounting firm.