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February 11, 1997 - Castle Harlan Fund Buys Stake In Synthetic Diamond Company

NEW YORK, February 11, 1997 -- Castle Harlan, Inc., the New York merchant bank, reported today that an investment fund it manages had bought a 60 percent interest in U.S. Synthetic Corporation, the world's largest independent manufacturer of synthetic diamonds used in oil and gas drill bits in a transaction valued at approximately $60 million.


The company, based in Provo, Utah, had been wholly owned by a group of shareholders controlled by Bill J. Pope, chairman, and his son, Louis M. Pope, president. They will retain a significant ownership in the company and will continue to manage the business.


"Diamond drill bits in recent years have started to make significant inroads into the traditional tungsten drill bits market," said Marcel Fournier, a Castle Harlan director. "This trend is expected to continue, at the same time as the overall drill bit market itself is growing." U.S. Synthetic currently has a leading market share, he said, and a large portion of its sales are overseas.


"Its prospects are very promising," he added.


The investment was made by Castle Harlan Partners II, L.P., a $275 million investment fund representing major corporate and public pension funds, college endowments, foundations and individual investors. Since Castle Harlan's founding in 1987, the firm has completed acquisitions exceeding $3 billion.


Castle Harlan's portfolio companies have included Delaware Management Company, a Philadelphia money-management firm with more than $32 billion under management; Indspec Chemical Corporation, a specialty chemical manufacturer; Smarte Carte, the airport luggage cart rental company; MAG Aerospace, the world's leading manufacturer of aircraft sanitation systems; Commemorative Brands, Inc., one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of class rings and other specialty jewelry under the ArtCarved and Balfour brand names; and Statia Terminals Group N.V., one of the world's largest independent marine terminal companies serving the petroleum industry.


Castle Harlan was founded by John K. Castle, a pioneer in institutionalizing private equity investing through limited partnerships and the former president and chief executive officer of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the investment banking firm, and by Leonard M. Harlan, founder and former owner and chairman of The Harlan Company, a diversified real estate and corporate finance advisory firm.