Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire Bel-Oro and Aurafin

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Friday that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire jewelry manufacturers Bel-Oro International and Aurafin LLC. The two companies will be combined into the newly formed Richline Group and it will continue to market to customers under multiple brands. The transactions are expected to close during the second or third quarter of 2007.

Dennis Ulrich, president of Bel-Oro, New York, and Dave Meleski, chief executive officer of Aurafin, Tamarac, Fla., agreed to merge their companies, each with its own distinct client relationships and specific product knowledge, into two large and cohesive operating entities under Richline Group, according to a statement from the Omaha, Neb.-based investment company.

The strategy, according to the statement, is to continue to keep the separate integrity of both the Bel-Oro, and Aurafin brands, and to take advantage of operational and administrative cost synergies.

Ulrich will become the chief executive officer of Richline Group and will manage the newly established company. Meleski will become president of the new company.

“The opportunity to partner with Dennis Ulrich, and his entire team, was one I couldn’t pass up,” said billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway. “They have done a remarkable job in building Bel-Oro from a standing start to the leader in its industry. And the best is yet to come.”

Bel-Oro imports and distributes jewelry including gold, silver, and precious stone items to retailers. Aurafin specializes in the manufacturing and distributing gold jewelry to retailers. It has been a portfolio company of Norwest Equity Partners since 1999.

“This is an unprecedented transaction in our industry,” Meleski said in the statement. “We are proud to have a top financial investor invest in what will now be the largest jewelry supply group in the USA.”

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