Bekaert and Gilde reach agreement on the sale of the European fencing division Bekaert Fencing NV

Joint Press Release

Brussels Brussels (Belgium), 

Bekaert and Gilde reach agreement on the sale of the European fencing division Bekaert Fencing NV
Today, Bekaert and Gilde signed an agreement regarding the sale of the shares of Bekaert Fencing NV. The result of the transaction, which is based on an enterprise value of € 281.5 million, amounts to € 56 million for Bekaert.

Gilde is one of Europe's leading investment companies, taking stakes in businesses it identifies as having growth potential.

Gilde has asked current management to continue to head the company and to pursue the efforts in order to maintain the good market positions and the profitability of the business.

The new shareholder is, together with Bekaert, convinced that this division will achieve further growth in industrial safety fences, will develop new products, will further focus on business projects and will reinforce its regional market leadership. For 2005, Bekaert Fencing NV and its subsidiaries have reserved a €10 million investment budget for the various sites in Europe.

This means that continuity is assured under the new shareholder and that nothing will change to Bekaert Fencing NV's commitment to its employees, customers and suppliers.

Gilde Director Paul Bekx stated: "Gilde is delighted to welcome Bekaert Fencing NV into its organisation. As the number 1 for fencing systems in Europe, this company is a suitable addition to our portfolio of regional market leaders with stable revenues and solid market shares. We are convinced that the company is an attractive platform for further growth, going forward thanks to the commitment of all its employees. The combination of strong market positions, the successful evolution that management continued to realize also in 2004 and Gilde's funds will enable the company to gain in strength as a leading, independent player on the fencing market."

Earlier this year, Bekaert launched a comprehensive analysis of its European fencing division, part of a continuous assessment of its business activities in light of the ever-evolving market conditions. The results of this evaluation show that the future success of this division is best guaranteed by definitive independence.

"The sale of Bekaert Fencing NV is an historic event, because our company was built on this division. On behalf of the Chairman and the members of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank all Bekaert Fencing NV employees in Europe for their valuable contribution to the growth of the group. Primarily, I am particularly satisfied that we have been able to offer a new future for the European fencing division, which is also of great importance to the employees," explained Bekaert Chief Executive Officer, Julien De Wilde, upon announcement of the agreement. "Then again, this is a positive financial transaction for Bekaert. We will continue our efforts in developing our strategy of sustainable profitable growth and to maintain our position as a worldwide market and technological leader."

The agreement is, amongst others, subject to regulatory approvals, but both parties anticipate a timely closing of the transactions.

Bekaert Fencing NV

Bekaert Fencing NV and its subsidiaries are part of Bekaert's fencing systems Europe business segment, which manufactures and sells in Europe fencing and fencing systems for the residential and agricultural market, woven and welded mesh products for industrial applications and safety fencing systems. It employs 1862 people, including 482 people in Belgium. With production sites in Belgium (Zwevegem), France (Bourbourg), the United Kingdom (Sheffield and Wigan), Germany (Schwalmtal and Werl), Italy (Tortoreto), Spain (Burgos) and Poland (Kotlarnia) and with sales in 2003 of €388 million, Bekaert Fencing NV is market leader in Europe.

Bekaert

Bekaert seeks sustainable profitable growth based on its two core competences: advanced metal transformation and advanced materials and coatings. Bekaert aims to consolidate its position as both market and technological leader around the world. With its broad range of high technological products, systems and services, Bekaert offers high added value for its clientele.

Bekaert (Euronext Brussels: BEKB) is a European based company, headquartered in Belgium, employing 17,000 people. In 2003, Bekaert present in over 120 countries, generated sales of € 2.6 billion.

Gilde

With offices in Utrecht (the Netherlands), Paris (France) and Zürich (Switzerland), Gilde has invested in more than 150 companies since its establishment in 1982. Gilde is a leading European private equity investor with a global network and a management portfolio worth

€ 1.5 billion. Gilde works with specialised investment funds for management buy-outs and for venture capital in life sciences.

The investment in Bekaert Fencing NV will be placed in Gilde Buy-Out Fund II. This € 530 million fund is oriented to buy-out/buy-in opportunities on the European mainland.

Contacts

Bekaert

Press Investor
Françoise Vanthemsche
Tel. +32 56 23 05 71

Relations Director
Jacques Anckaert
Tel. +32 56 23 05 72

Gilde

Paul Bekx
Tel. +31 30 219 25 35

More information on www.bekaert.com/investors and www.gilde.nl