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Briggs buys Simplicity Manufacturing

Milwaukee (AP) – Briggs & Stratton Corp. said Wednesday it has signed a  definitive agreement to acquire Simplicity Manufacturing Inc. of Port Washington  for $227.5 million in cash, subject to adjustments.

Briggs & Stratton  is the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power  equipment.

Simplicity is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of  a broad range of outdoor power equipment used in both consumer and commercial  lawn and garden applications. Its products are widely distributed through independent  dealers under the brand names Simplicity, Snapper, Ferris and Giant-Vac.

The  transaction is expected to close at the beginning of Briggs’ fiscal 2005 first  quarter, at which time Simplicity Manufacturing will become part of the Briggs  & Stratton Power Products Group — which joined the parent firm in the agreement.

“The  acquisition is another step in Briggs & Stratton’s strategy to present an  ever more compelling value proposition to consumers of our products and superior  returns to our shareholders,” said John S. Shiely, Briggs’ chief executive  officer.

James A. Wier, Simplicity’s chief executive officer, said his firm  was pleased by the transaction.

“We believe Briggs & Stratton has  the financial resources and support to allow us to continue our current growth  strategy,” he said. “The management team and our production facilities  will remain in place and continue to focus on delivering high value products sold  through the independent dealer channel.”

Simplicity employs about  1,200 people and has manufacturing facilities in Port Washington, McDonough, Ga.,  and Munnsville, N.Y.

James E. Brenn, Briggs’ senior vice president and chief  financial officer, said the acquisition is not expected to have any impact on  employment at either firm.

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