Thursday, November 15, 2001

Gibson Guitar completes purchase of Baldwin

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gibson Guitar Corp. has completed its purchase of struggling Baldwin Piano & Organ Co., ushering in a new chapter in the history of the 139-year-old piano maker.

        Nashville, Tenn., based Gibson announced Wednesday it has bought Baldwin's assets from GE Capital Corp., Baldwin's largest creditor, which acquired the right to purchase Baldwin in an auction last month.

        Financial terms weren't disclosed.

        Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson's chairman, said,“We expect Baldwin to achieve new levels of growth and financial success ... as we make music in the new century.”

        Completion of Gibson's purchase ended efforts by some of Baldwin's largest shareholders, led by chairman Kenneth Pavia and CEO Bob Jones, to recapitalize the business and keep it independent.

        Mr. Jones, who was named Baldwin's CEO in May shortly before the company sought protection from creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, has left the company. He couldn't be reached for comment.

        “We're very happy about the outcome,” said Bill Dollarhide, a Pensacola, Fla., Baldwin dealer and a frequent critic of the company's retired CEO Karen Hendricks.

        Mr. Juszkiewicz has said Gibson plans to continue production at Baldwin's two Arkansas plants. He also said the company would maintain a presence in Greater Cincinnati, although its financial and computer operations will be relocated to Nashville.

        It's expected that the company's local employment will be smaller than the approximately 30 now at its Deerfield Township corporate office. Gibson, which employs about 1,100, has revenues approaching $200 million.


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