Bel-Oro International and Aurafin to be Acquired by Berkshire Hathaway
OMAHA, Neb.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) announced today that it has entered into definitive agreements pursuant to which it will acquire leading jewelry manufacturers Bel-Oro International and Aurafin LLC. Upon consummation of these acquisitions, the two companies will be combined into the newly formed Richline Group and it will continue to market to customers under multiple brands. The acquisitions are subject to customary closing conditions along with the applicable waiting periods under the Hart Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The transactions are expected to close during the second or third quarter of 2007.
Over the past 12 years, the Bel-Oro group of companies has grown to become an industry leader in gold jewelry. The company has earned a reputation as an ethical, hardworking family business, with some of the most talented professionals in the jewelry industry. Its key advantage has been to recognize and support the needs of customers by being first to the market with the most innovative products and services.
Dennis Ulrich, President of Bel-Oro, stated “In order to provide an unparalleled level of capital to support the Bel-Oro business, and to be able to continue with a strong committed partnership with each and every one of our clients for many years to come, Bel-Oro has agreed to become part of the Berkshire Hathaway Group of Companies.”
Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, “The opportunity to partner with Dennis Ulrich, and his entire team, was one I couldn’t pass up. They have done a remarkable job in building Bel-Oro from a standing start to the leader in its industry. And the best is yet to come.”
Like Bel-Oro, Aurafin, too, has grown and positioned itself as one of the leading gold jewelry manufacturers and distributors within this historically fragmented industry. Dave Meleski, CEO of Aurafin, added “This is an unprecedented transaction in our industry. We are proud to have a top financial investor invest in what will now be the largest jewelry supply group in the USA. It is an opportunity that my team and I optimistically embrace, and it will permit us to focus on merchandising, marketing and manufacturing jewelry, in order to help our customers compete better in a world where consumers have so many choices.” Aurafin, founded by Michael Gusky, has been a portfolio company of Norwest Equity Partners since 1999.
Mr. Ulrich and Mr. Meleski have agreed to merge their companies, each with its own distinct client relationships and specific product knowledge, into two large and cohesive operating entities under Richline Group, without losing the uniqueness of its individual brands or goodwill. The strategy is to continue to keep the separate integrity of both the Bel-Oro and Aurafin brands, and to take advantage of operational and administrative cost synergies.
Mr. Ulrich will become the CEO of Richline Group and will manage the newly established company. Ulrich stated “I am also looking forward to the opportunity to work with Dave Meleski and a talented management team, to bring excitement and style to all of our jewelry brands.” Mr. Meleski will become President of the new Richline Group.
Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiaries engage in a number of diverse business activities including property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, utilities and energy, finance, manufacturing, retailing and services. The common stock of the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.