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February 9, 2000

GBC Reports 4th Quarter and Full Year 1999 Results, Progress On Its Streamlining Programms

COMPANY PRESS RELEASE: General Binding Corporation today reported that cash flow as measured by EBITDA for the fourth quarter ending December 31 was $17.2 million, compared to $7.6 million for the third quarter.

By CBR Staff Writer

The various critical programs we initiated during the year after a comprehensive review of our operations are taking hold, and we started to see some promising indications in the fourth quarter, said Govi Reddy, President and Chief Executive Officer. These significant initiatives are on track to generate significant cost savings and increases in our productivity levels this year throughout our organization as well as greatly enhancing customer service levels and the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. Evidencing our progress, total debt, net of cash, decreased over $24 million during the quarter to $459 million, representing more than half of the $54 million total decrease in net debt we accomplished during the year.

The company further reported sales for the fourth quarter of $236 million and a net loss for the period of $1.58 per diluted share. The results included previously-announced restructuring charges including, on a pre-tax basis, (i) $3.2 million primarily related to its restructuring program in North America and (ii) $1.1 million related to the restructuring of its visual communications business in the UK. In addition, the company announced that it entered into the second phase of its worldwide product line and SKU rationalization program, which was established to eliminate overlapping product lines with subpar profitability and SKUs that do not contribute material amounts of income and was initially focused in the Office Products Group. It is now being expanded to include the company’s remaining business groups and will be covered by a pretax charge in the fourth quarter of $7.9 million, primarily related to inventory write-downs.

Also contributing to the loss in the quarter were higher program costs in the Office Products Group, a continuation of losses in the Europe Group as it began to implement the previously-announced restructurings of its visual communication business in the UK and sales operation in France, and increased interest expense. Further, net income was negatively impacted by a decrease in the company’s effective annual tax rate.

For the full year 1999, sales were $902 million, and a loss of $3.60 per diluted share was reported. Total charges and provisions in 1999 included, on a pretax basis, (i) $34.2 for various restructuring programs worldwide, (ii) $16 million for a worldwide product line and SKU rationalization program, and (iii) $8 million for customer returns and inventory charges primarily related to plan-o-gram changes in the Office Products Group.

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