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Oshkosh Co. May Go Private

May 7, 2000

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) _ The family that controls OshKosh B’Gosh Inc. would consider taking the company private in a leveraged buyout, chairman Douglas Hyde said at the company’s annual meeting.

``When the share price is this depressed, the concept interests us more,″ Hyde, a member of the family that owns a third of shareholder equity in the clothing manufacturer, said Friday.

OshKosh shares closed up 25 cents at $16.68 3/4 Friday. The price is $4 less than the split-adjusted price the company’s shares traded at in OshKosh’s heyday during the label-conscious 1980s.

The company’s troubles began in the early 1990s as value-conscious consumers chose less expensive brands. Also, while competitors were using cheap labor overseas and in Mexico, OshKosh was still producing most of its products domestically.

In the mid 1990s, the company began moving production out of the country, and by last year, 64 percent of OshKosh’s products were foreign-made.

OshKosh’s 1999 sales of $429 million, while up 1.5 percent over the previous year, were split between a 13.8 percent loss in wholesale sales to retailers and a 19 percent gain in direct sales to consumers in the company’s outlet and specialty stores.

The company’s efforts to boost the share price are hampered by the fact that Wall Street lost interest in the thinly traded stock when OshKosh’s sales sagged in the early 1990s.

Hyde told shareholders Friday that OshKosh is emphasizing a more contemporary look this year with a new print advertising campaign running in magazines like People and Martha Stewart Living.

OshKosh is also trying to boost sales with new sales channels, including an Internet site and two new stores.

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On the Net:

OshKosh B’Gosh: http://www.oshkoshbgosh.com

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