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EVER READY LTD ACQUIRED FROM HANSON BY RALSTON PURINA EVER READY TO REUNITE WITH EVEREADY USA AFTER 78 YEARS

 EVER READY LTD ACQUIRED FROM HANSON BY RALSTON PURINA
 EVER READY TO REUNITE WITH EVEREADY USA AFTER 78 YEARS
 LONDON, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Lord Hanson, chairman of Hanson PLC (NYSE: HAN), announced that the Ralston Purina Company (NYSE: RAL) is to acquire from Hanson PLC for 132 million pounds sterling ($233 million) cash, Ever Ready Ltd, the U.K.'s principal dry cell battery manufacturer. In the year to Sept. 28, 1991, Ever Ready had pre-tax operating profit of 18.5 million pounds ($32.7 million) on sales of 87.1 million pounds ($153.7 million). Net assets were 23.7 million pounds ($41.8 million).
 The agreement, which excludes Ever Ready's operations in South Africa, is subject to clearance under the mergers provisions of the U.K.'s Fair Trading Act.
 Lord Hanson said, "When we acquired Berec including Ever Ready in 1981, profit had declined to a third of its 1970's peak with a very limited presence in long life alkaline batteries, the growth item of the U.K. market. Ever Ready has since been revitalized with new battery products competitive with the best in the world."
 Ever Ready management strongly supports this agreement and has been closely involved in the negotiations. Bob Nevitt, managing director, said, "Over the past 10 years we have invested heavily in new products, marketing support and high speed production equipment. Productivity and profit have been substantially improved and we have retained our significant presence in an increasingly competitive U.K. dry cell battery market. The benefit of Ralston's advanced technology will enable us to compete even more effectively in the U.K. and fully exploit our traditional export markets."
 J. Patrick Mulcahy, Ralston Purina corporate vice president and chairman and chief executive officer of Eveready Battery Company, said, "We are pleased to make this announcement today. In 1986 we acquired the Eveready brand name and worldwide battery business from Union Carbide Corporation. Since then we have increased our battery interests through market growth and acquisition and are today the world's largest battery supplier. The acquisition of Ever Ready in the U.K. is significant in that it fills a major geographical gap in our international markets. When the agreement is completed, Eveready and Ever Ready Ltd will again be part of the same group for the first time since 1914. That year the original American company publicly floated its U.K. interests and sold its United States operations to Union Carbide."
 Costa Bacouris, chairman, Ralston Energy Systems, SA, Geneva, Switzerland, said, "I believe this acquisition is an important opportunity not only for our company but for Ever Ready Ltd and its employees as well. Ever Ready is a fine business with an excellent consumer franchise, strong distribution and manufacturing and a solid management and employee team. We intend to build on the existing business by adding new products backed by our strong technological capabilities. Eveready Battery Company is well positioned to bring further growth to this business in the U.K. We look forward to the challenge."
 Eveready Battery Company markets its products in more than 160 countries and operates 39 plants worldwide. Ralston, of St. Louis, Mo., is a major U.S.-based consumer products company with sales of $7.4 billion in its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1991.
 Hanson PLC is a British-American industrial management corporation. In the U.S., Hanson Industries' operations include SCM Chemicals, Peabody Coal and Powder River Coal, Cavenham Forest Industries, Beazer, Jacuzzi, Grove Crane, Ames Tools, Endicott Johnson Footwear, Hanson Lighting Group, Kaiser Cement, Weber Aircraft, Farberware Cookware, and Gold Fields Mining, among others.
 In the United Kingdom, Hanson's holdings include Imperial Tobacco, ARC Aggregates, London Brick, Butterley Brick, and Smith Meters.
 NOTE: The conversion rate used was the rate on Friday, April 10, 1992 of 1 pound sterling equals $1.765.
 -0- 4/13/92
 /CONTACT: Robert M. Brier of Hanson Industries, 212-826-0098/
 (HAN RAL) CO: Hanson PLC; Ralston Purina Co.; Eveready Battery Co. ST: Missouri IN: HOU SU: TNM


SH -- NY026 -- 7629 04/13/92 09:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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