WOODINVILLE, WA — Amer Group Plc., the parent company of several sports brands including Wilson Sporting Goods, Atomic and Sunnto is expanding its operations by acquiring Precor for a total consideration of approximately $177 million.

“Precor is a well-known and respected company and an established brand and its products use the most advanced technology in their field — as do our other brands: Wilson, Atomic and Suunto,” commented Roger Talermo, president and CEO of Amer Group. “This acquisition complements our existing product portfolio and brings us one step closer to our target of becoming the number one sports equipment company in the world.”

The Amer acquisition concludes a process that began in late 2001 when Precor parent company ITW announced its intent to divest a consumer products division that included Precor. Since 1999, Precor has been a subsidiary of ITW, an international manufacturer of highly engineered components and industrial systems primarily for the automotive and construction industries.

Finalization of the agreement with Precor's parent company, Illinois Tool Works Inc., is expected this month. The transaction requires approval from the relevant competition authorities.

“This is an exciting time for Precor. We made tremendous strides within the structure of a focused industrial products company,” said Paul Byrne, president of Precor, who will continue in his current position. “Now, we are joining a company exclusively focused on global leadership in sporting goods. We're thrilled.”

Despite many questioning a possible shift in emphasis from Precor toward the sporting goods and mass-market, Byrne added that while ownership is changing, the company will remain much the same as before the acquisition by Amer Sports.

“We aren't changing the business model as a result of the acquisition, we aren't moving the company nor are we changing our distribution network,” said Byrne. “What is changing is our access to synergies and education from Amer's other sporting goods brands. Plus, we're gaining a partner committed to investing in our continued growth and stability.”

Benefiting from consumer demand for a natural, low-impact, fluid exercise experience, Precor said it has been booking record sales in its commercial and retail divisions in 2002.

“Precor has great momentum, financial strength and a solid business model. We have an aggressive plan for growth, and now have additional resources to help us get there,” said Byrne.

Byrne also noted that Precor will maintain its commitment to ITW disciplines of operating efficiency and focus on the core business, despite the change in ownership.

“We have a great commonality with Amer Sports, sharing a commitment to global market leadership, advanced technology, R&D, and core values of customer service,” Byrne said.

“Precor earned and reinforced a reputation for product innovation and quality, and a superior customer and end-user experience. Working with ITW, we complemented those strengths with operational practices that made us even more efficient and financially stronger.”