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PRG Confident of Reaching Threshold

Pacific Retail Apparel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Retail Group (NZSE: PRG) today advised that it was now confident of achieving the 50 percent threshold which would make its offer for Bendon Group Limited (NZSE: BEN) unconditional.

Peter Halkett, Chief Executive Officer of PRG said that, as a result of acceptances received to date and commitments made by institutional shareholders and brokers, the target was clearly in sight.

“As you would expect, the rate of acceptance has increased rapidly since Monday’s announcement by the independent directors,” he said. “Today we received 159 acceptances representing 1.2 million shares. As of this afternoon total acceptances have been processed from 906 shareholders, representing 5.2 million shares or 16.85 percent of shares on issue and taking our holding to 35.90 percent.

“UBS Warburg, Bendon’s second largest institutional shareholder, with 5.8 percent, has accepted our bid, as has South Pacific Merchant Finance, with 2.2 percent, and ACC, with 2.1 percent. Retail acceptances are also looking strong and communications received from other institutional investors and brokers since Monday’s announcement leave us confident that we will shortly achieve the level necessary for our offer to become unconditional.”

On Monday the independent Directors of Bendon Group Ltd sent shareholders a letter advising them to accept the Pacific Retail Apparel Ltd takeover offer for Bendon before the closing date of 26 March 2002. Messrs Parton and Clapshaw advised that they would accept the offer for the shares that they held.

“Their advice made it clear that there was effectively only one proposal that met their criteria, clearing the way for shareholders to accept our bid,” said Halkett. “As it now has only two days to run, we advise Bendon shareholders who wish to take the offer up to do so without delay.”

PRG is today sending a letter to Bendon shareholders reminding them to get their acceptances in by 26 March. Shareholders wanting additional information about the offer can contact J B Were’s information line on 0800 555 555.

PRG Director, Phil Newland said that he hoped to initiate discussions with Bendon’s management once the final state of PRG’s holding became clear.

“Whether as a major shareholder or 100 percent owner, we’re obviously committed to growing the company. That means working with the best people available and giving them the support they require to deliver that growth,” he said.

“We understand Mr Venter’s disappointment but are at the same time comforted that the CEO of the company, who has done so much for it, remains so passionate about it. We value that.

“He, and others in his management team, will find that we are not motivated by short term share price-driven considerations, but by the opportunity to build long-term value,” he said. “Obviously we have developed some views on future strategy, but we will not firm those up until we have determined our ultimate position in the company and engaged in a constructive dialogue with management.”

On 12 February, after completing due diligence, PRG extended a formal offer under the Takeovers Code for up to 100% of the shares in Bendon Group Limited at $1.90 per share.

ENDS

About Pacific Retail Group
Pacific Retail Group is an NZSE-listed retail company. The appliance, electronics, computer and homeware retailer has 99 stores and annual sales of over $400 million, trading through its Noel Leeming, Bond & Bond, Computer City, Living & Giving, Big Byte and finance activities through Pacific Retail Finance brands.

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