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Gibson Guitar Corp. Acquires Deutsche Wurlitzer

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Gibson Guitar Corp. Acquires Deutsche Wurlitzer
07/05/2006

NASHVILLE, TN – (July 5, 2006) - Gibson Guitar Corp., a leader in the music products industry has acquired Deutsche Wurlitzer from Nelson Group Overseas, part of the Nelson Group of Companies based in Sydney, Australia, it was announced today.  The deal brings the Wurlitzer Jukebox and Vending Electronics brand wholly under the Gibson banner and brings to an amicable conclusion several years of litigation between Gibson and the Nelson Group regarding the use of the Wurlitzer brand name. The deal was negotiated and finalized by Gibson Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz and Trent Karoll, Joint Managing Director of the Australian-based Nelson Group.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Deutsche Wurlitzer, with a manufacturing plant and headquarters in Hullhorst, Germany, employs over 260 persons worldwide and has branch distribution and sales offices in the U.S. and U.K. Gibson intends to have DW continue at its current locations and anticipates accelerating the growth of this business through broader international distribution and product development.

“We are pleased to have the Wurlitzer brand unified and positioned to move forward, continuing and expanding its successful legacy,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “We look forward to the exciting opportunities that this agreement will bring to the future of Wurlitzer and Gibson.”

The musical tradition of the Wurlitzer family can be traced back to the 17th century. The forefathers of Rudolph Wurlitzer, who emigrated to America in 1853 at the age of 24, had already made a name for themselves in Saxony as manufacturers of and dealers in musical instruments. Rudolph Wurlitzer founded The Wurlitzer Company in 1856, importing musical instruments and opened sales outlets in all big American cities. He started production of pianos in America in 1880. Farny Wurlitzer, youngest son of the firm's founder, bought a patented music box mechanism in the early '30s, and took on its inventor, Homer Capehart, and a brilliant designer named Paul Fuller. This was the beginning of the golden era for Wurlitzer as it began producing jukeboxes that played the old 78 shellac records. During this time, the jukebox became the "small man's concert hall."

Wurlitzer quickly took over 60 percent of the booming jukebox market. In 1946, Wurlitzer introduced the Model 1015 and established itself as the most popular jukebox of all time. Today, Wurlitzer has developed new technologies for commercial and residential jukeboxes and is also recognized worldwide as a premier manufacturer of vending machines. 

“Since acquiring Deutsche Wurlitzer in 1985, the Nelson Group of Companies has been proud to share in its rich history of crafting iconic jukeboxes which are known the world over, as well as its innovative and growing line of quality vending machines. We are confident that Gibson Guitar will preserve and enhance the company’s established tradition, and we wish them every success in the future,” said Trent Karoll, Joint Managing Director of the Nelson Group. 

About The Nelson Group:
The Nelson Group is a privately owned organization with established and diverse businesses, based mainly in Australia and New Zealand. In the 1960s the company founder, Mr. Arthur Nelson, who at 81 is now semi-retired became the Australian agent for Wurlitzer Products. His company, Nelson Tobacco which was Australia’s largest independent tobacco wholesaler up until 1990 began diversifying and expanding through vending, utilizing Wurlitzer vending machines. In 1985 he was afforded the opportunity to purchase the company and bought Deutsche Wurlitzer GmbH in 48 hours. Soon after acquiring the company, Nelson relaunched production of the 1015 jukebox which proved to be a savvy move. The sale of Deutsche Wurlitzer to Gibson Guitar will allow Karoll more time to focus on the Group’s growing property and investment portfolio and existing businesses. 

About Gibson Guitar:
Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins and banjos. Gibson’s digital guitar represents the biggest advance in electric guitar design in more than 70 years. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Mich., and headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. since 1975, Gibson Guitar Corp.’s family of brands now includes Epiphone, Dobro, Valley Arts, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Slingerland, Maestro, Baldwin, Chickering, Hamilton, and Wurlitzer.



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