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Feltex: Iconic Brand Returns To NZ Ownership

Feltex Carpets Limited: Iconic Brand Returns To New Zealand Ownership

Feltex Carpets Limited confirmed its intention to list on the New Zealand sharemarket through the launch today of a public offering of its shares, giving the company a market capitalisation of $254 million to $284 million at the indicative price range per share set under the offer.

The Feltex offering is New Zealand’s largest sharemarket issue in five years. The offer size is expected to place Feltex within the top 30 listed companies.

Feltex is one of the two largest manufacturers of carpets in Australasia - producing over 17 million square meters of carpet per annum and forecasting annual sales in excess of $330 million for the financial year. The company’s production represents over a quarter of all the carpet volume manufactured in Australasia in 2003. In addition, Feltex is one of the largest wool carpet manufacturers in the world. The company’s chairman, Tim Saunders, said that he was pleased to see Feltex returning to New Zealand ownership given its heritage of manufacturing carpets here.

“Feltex has been carpeting the homes of New Zealanders for generations,” he said. “It is one of the country’s iconic brands and we are delighted to bring it back to the sharemarket.

“Today, Feltex is a leading manufacturer of carpets in New Zealand and Australia with a strong established portfolio of well known brands, covering premium wool carpets, wool rich blends and man-made fibre carpets both for home and commercial use.” Its brands include Feltex Reserve, Feltex Classic, Feltex Commercial, Feltex Woven, Invicta, Kensington, Redbook and Minster.

The float of Feltex has arisen out of the decision by the company’s shareholder, Credit Suisse First Boston Asian Merchant Partners, L.P. (CSFBAMP) to sell its shareholding. CSFBAMP has been an owner of Feltex for eight years.

In conjunction with the sale of shares, Feltex is raising $50 million of new capital to assist with the redemption of the Bonds issued by the company in May 2003. In recognition of the support that Bondholders provided Feltex, Bondholders are being given an opportunity to participate in the offer with priority status and at a discounted price. Important information about Bondholder alternatives are given in the fact sheet attached to this news release. Mr Saunders said that following the Offer, the senior management team will have a meaningful equity interest in Feltex of almost 4.5% of the shares, as well as management option plans, which reflects the commitment that the management team has to Feltex and to driving future growth and earnings. “Our senior executives are among the most experienced in the Australasian carpet industry and have the experience and market knowledge required to continue to grow the Feltex business,” he said.

Feltex’s chief executive officer Sam Magill, who has 36 years experience in the carpet industry, said a major development for the business occurred when Feltex purchased the Australian operations of Shaw Industries Inc (“Shaw”). “Shaw is the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and the acquisition of their Australian operation transformed Feltex into an integrated Australasian business of significant scale.

“Since the integration of Shaw Industries Australia in 2000, management has successfully implemented a variety of operational initiatives that have realised more than $13 million of annual cost savings and synergy benefits.

“We have also recently invested in new production technology which allows us to develop a number of new designs and products, offering consumers additional ranges and styles of carpet to better service customers’ needs and meet changing fashions and trends.

“As a result of these changes we have positioned Feltex as a responsive manufacturer of high quality carpets with an excellent platform for sustainable growth in earnings.”

The indicative price range has been set at $1.70 to $1.95 per share with the final price being set upon the completion of a book-build process on Monday 24 May.

Based on this indicative price range, Feltex is projecting a gross dividend yield of 8.6% to 9.6% for the 2005 financial year. In addition, shareholders will receive a dividend in October 2004 in respect of the second half of the June 2004 financial year. This dividend is projected to be $9 million.

The issue is being jointly managed by leading sharebrokers Forsyth Barr and First New Zealand Capital. Feltex shares are expected to begin trading on 4 June. A combined investment statement and prospectus in relation to the public offer has been signed and is being registered with the Companies Office on 5 May 2004.

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