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GERBER REACHES AGREEMENT TO SELL BUSTER BROWN APPAREL

 CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Dec. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- An agreement to buy Buster Brown Apparel, Inc. from Gerber Products Company (NYSE: GEB) was reached today by a group led by Buster Brown management, Chemical Venture Partners and Apollo Advisors. Terms of the transaction, which is to close during January, were not disclosed.
 Founded in 1904, Buster Brown is a manufacturer and marketer of children's apparel and hosiery. It has been a subsidiary of Gerber Products Company since 1983. Bruce C. Rice will continue as president and chief executive officer and will become chairman of Buster Brown. Rice said that "the company's strategic direction and its management, many of whom will become shareholders, will remain unchanged as a result of this transaction.
 "We intend to further enhance our branded Buster Brown business with department and specialty stores. In recognition of ongoing segmentation of the childrenswear market, we will also continue to offer value- priced, high-quality playwear programs under other significant brand names such as Peanuts, Peter Rabbit, Snoopy and Charlie Brown and Gang," Rice said.
 According to Rice, his management team is excited about Buster Brown's prospects. "As an independent company, Buster Brown will be better able to react to and take advantage of business opportunities," he said.
 Rice also believes that the participation of Chemical Venture Partners and Apollo will enhance Buster Brown's financial strength and flexibility. "These investors understand our business," Rice explained, "and they will provide strong strategic and financial support to enable us to expand our business while maintaining our leading reputation for responsive products and service and to confront the challenges in our industry in the 1990s."
 Chemical Venture Partners, with over $1.5 billion under management, is an affiliate of Chemical Banking Corporation, the third-largest bank in the United States with assets totaling over $130 billion. Founded in 1984, Chemical Venture Partners has invested in over 150 companies, including many apparel and retail-related companies.
 Apollo Advisors, L.P. is the managing general partner of Apollo Investment Fund, L.P., which along with a related entity, manage investment capital in excess of $4 billion. Apollo Advisors and its related entities manage numerous equity and debt investments, including significant investments in the apparel industry.
 -0- 12/30/92
 /CONTACT: Bruce Rice of Buster Brown, 615-629-2531; or Tim Croasdaile of Gerber Products, 616-928-2718/
 (GEB)


CO: Gerber Products Company; Buster Brown Apparel, Inc.;
 Chemical Venture Partners; Apollo Advisors, L.P. ST: Michigan, Tennessee IN: SU: TNM


DH -- DE002 -- 0544 12/30/92 09:55 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 30, 1992
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