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Berkshire Hathaway To Acquire Russell Corp

Atlanta-based athletic and sporting goods company Russell Corp. and Omaha, Neb.-based investor Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. have signed an agreement whereby Berkshire Hathaway will acquire the outstanding shares of Russell for $18 per share, or approximately $597.3 million and will assume between $400 million and $500 million in debt. Subject to stockholder and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2006.

According to Jack Ward, chairman and CEO, Russell, the deal will strengthen the company’s financial position.

“Russell will be better-positioned against our worldwide competitors in all three segments of our business, and that includes apparel, sports equipment and athletic shoes,” he said. “We also owe our gratitude to the thousands of people who have played roles in the development of this organization from a small Alabama apparel operation founded in 1902 to a major player in the global sporting goods marketplace of today.”

Russell recently announced it would restructure its operations in order to improve its global competitive position, closing several plants in the United States and moving production offshore, and reducing its workforce globally while transferring a substantial number of jobs to Honduran and Mexican facilities. Despite higher sales in 2005 compared with 2004 sales, its year-on-year profit margins were lower, and it realized most of its profits from operations in lower-tax countries including its Latin American operations (See “Russell Restructures Operations,” www.TextileWorld.com , March/April 2006).

Russell would become the third company with ties to the US textile industry among Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio of more than 40 companies, representing a wide range of markets. Bowling Green, Ky.-based underwear, T-shirt and activewear maker Fruit of the Loom Inc. and Dalton, Ga.-based floor covering manufacturer Shaw Industries Inc. also are part of the conglomerate.

May/June 2006