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New CEO Says Gibson Greetings Not For Sale

August 27, 1996

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The new boss of Gibson Greetings Inc. said the company is not for sale and intends to strengthen itself as a player in the greeting cards industry.

Frank J. O’Connell, 53, hired Monday as president and chief executive officer, takes over a company that lost $75 million in the past two years.

``What Gibson needs is a vision and a strategy to carry it into the future,″ O’Connell said. ``This company is not for sale.″

Cleveland-based American Greetings Corp., a larger competitor, has made overtures in recent months to buy Gibson, but Gibson has rebuffed those pitches.

O’Connell, a veteran of the sports footwear and licensed sports product industries, has 30 years of experience in retail brand management.

He most recently was president and chief executive officer of Skybox International, a manufacturer of sports and entertainment trading cards and licensee of products for the National Basketball Association, National Football League and others.

He was previously president of Reebok Brands, North America, overseeing sales of the company’s ``Pump″ shoe. Before that, he was a senior executive at Mattel Inc. overseeing sales and marketing of video game hardware and software.

O’Connell replaces Benjamin Sottile, 58, who was fired in February as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Gibson, the nation’s third-largest maker of greeting cards and gift wrap. The company lost $28.6 million in 1994, and $46.5 million last year.

Earnings for the second quarter ending June 30 were $5.9 million, or 36 cents per share, on revenues of $88.6 million. That compared with $4.9 million, or 31 cents per share, on revenues of $87.5 million a year ago.

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