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Aviagen Becomes Part of the Erich Wesjohann Group

by 5m Editor
26 April 2005, at 12:00a.m.

ALABAMA - Aviagen International Group Inc. ("Aviagen"), the world's leading poultry meat science company, has been acquired by Erich Wesjohann GmbH & Co. KG (the "Erich Wesjohann Group"), the leader in poultry science for the egg layer industry. Each of these leaders represents important genetic knowledge and research resources in their respective fields of poultry science.

Aviagen Becomes Part of the Erich Wesjohann Group - ALABAMA - Aviagen International Group Inc. ("Aviagen"), the world's leading poultry meat science company, has been acquired by Erich Wesjohann GmbH & Co. KG (the "Erich Wesjohann Group"), the leader in poultry science for the egg layer industry. Each of these leaders represents important genetic knowledge and research resources in their respective fields of poultry science. Aviagen

Following several years of investment in research and development plus geographic expansion, the global private equity company, Advent International, has made this expected transition. The Erich Wesjohann Group became a strategic partner in Aviagen in November 2003 through the sale Ross EPI to Aviagen. As part of this transaction, the Erich Wesjohann Group acquired a 21% shareholding in Aviagen with its founder and CEO, Erich Wesjohann, joining the Aviagen board.

Erich Wesjohann commented, "The combination of Aviagen and the Wesjohann Group creates a strongly diversified life science group for poultry applications. Our two companies share similar cultures, making Wesjohann a natural strategic home for Aviagen, its management team and its employees. The intention is to maintain Aviagen's independence within our group which will require strong leadership, something that Ian Panton, Aviagen's CEO, whom we have known for many years, has consistently demonstrated during his time in the position. I am very much looking forward to working with him and his management team."

Aviagen and the Erich Wesjohann Group holding leading positions in their respective markets. Aviagen brands include Ross, Nicholas Turkey, Arbor Acres, L.I.R. and C.W.T. The Erich Wesjohann Group subsidiaries are Hy-Line, Lohmann Tierzucht and H&N International. "This purchase is positive for the industry because it keeps both companies' advanced technology, research resources, and best practices available to the broiler chicken, turkey, and egg layer industries around the world,." said and industry source.

"We appreciate Advent's vision and dedication to our business," said Aviagen CEO Ian Panton. "Our new relationship with the Erich Wesjohann Group promises strategic benefits to both businesses. I am pleased that Aviagen is part of a team that has a long-term commitment to the poultry breeding business. The ability to share best practices with regard to poultry science technology and animal husbandry between our two companies will contribute to further genetic progress by both the meat poultry and the egg layer industries. Aviagen's position as a trusted and capable supplier of meat poultry breeding stock in the world will be maintained by this merger as we focus on continuous improvement and building long term value for our customers."

Advent International acquired Aviagen in May 2003 in a secondary buyout from BC Partners. During its ownership, Advent has supported the company in making three significant acquisitions with the purchases of Benelux based distributor Ross EPI, central European distributor Babolna Breeding Farms, and the US facilities and operations of turkey breeder BUTA. Performance has also been improved through the introduction of new and enhanced products with a resulting significant increase in US market share. In the period from 2002 to 2004, Aviagen's turnover increased by 25%.

Advent director Humphrey Battcock, who led the Aviagen investment, commented: "Our investment thesis for Aviagen was three-fold: to improve financial results and commercial responsiveness through the downstream integration of distributors; to improve market share in the US - Aviagen's largest business; and to strengthen Aviagen's Nicholas Turkeys operating base. Working alongside Aviagen's first-class management team, we've been able to achieve all three in a period of less than two years. Erich Wesjohann's acquisition of the company is a good fit that will deliver strategic benefit to both businesses going forward".

About Aviagen

Aviagen is the world's leading poultry science company, developing pedigree lines for the production of broiler chickens and turkeys principally under the Ross, Nicholas Turkey, Arbor Acres, L.I.R. and C.W.T. brand names. The company is based near Edinburgh, UK and in Huntsville, Alabama, USA with a number of wholly owned operations across Europe and USA and joint ventures in Western and Central Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Asia. Aviagen employs 1,300 people and has a distribution network serving 250 customers in 85 countries.

About the Erich Wesjohann Group

Headquartered in Germany, the Erich Wesjohann Group with its subsidiaries Hy-Line International, Lohmann Tierzucht and H&N is the global market leader in the breeding of egg layer genetics. With a number of wholly owned operations and joint ventures across the world, the group serves the world's egg industry in more then 100 countries. Besides the core business of egg layer breeding, the Erich Wesjohann Group is internationally active in the fields of animal health, functional food ingredients, grain storage, mushroom integration, and SPF egg production. The Erich Wesjohann group employs about 2,000 people world wide.

About Advent International

Advent International is one of the world's leading private equity firms, with €4.8 billion ($6 billion) in cumulative capital raised and offices in 13 countries across North America, Western and Central Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Since its founding in 1984, Advent has invested in over 500 companies and has helped businesses raise €8 billion ($10 billion) through public equity and debt offerings. These include 130 IPOs on major stock exchanges worldwide. Advent is committed to helping management teams build successful businesses by applying its industry expertise, international resources and local market knowledge.
For more information, visit www.adventinternational.com.

Source: Aviagen - 26th April 2005

5m Editor