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Burlington, Cone To Merge Into International Textile Group

Wilbur L. Ross, whose New York City-based investment company, WL Ross & Co., owns Greensboro, N.C.-based textile manufacturers Burlington Industries Inc. and Cone Mills Corp., has announced that the two companies will be combined to form International Textile Group (ITG). Combined revenues of the two companies total approximately $900 million.

Ross acquired Cone Mills out of bankruptcy last month. He acquired Burlington, also out of bankruptcy, in late 2003. Ross has assumed the role of ITG chairman. Burlington CEO Joseph L. Gorga now serves as CEO of ITG, while Cone Mills CEO John L. Bakane continues as CEO of Cone Mills Denim. Gary Smith, formerly of Cone Mills, has been named CFO of ITG.

ITG will comprise four companies: Cone Mills Denim, Home Furnishing Business, Nano-Tex specialty chemicals business and Burlington Apparel Fabrics. ITG hopes to operate all companies from one headquarters in Greensboro.

In a realignment of manufacturing operations, Cone Mills will have responsibility for Burlmex, Burlington's Mexico-based denim operation. ITG's Home Furnishing Business will comprise Burlington House, which includes Burlington's jacquard operations; Cone Jacquards; and Cone's Carlisle Finishing subsidiary.

ITG will replace Burlington as the majority owner of Nano-Tex LLC. Ken Kunberger will continue to head Burlington Apparel Fabrics. "I look forward to blending these two companies and strengthening the well-known Cone and Burlington brands in the marketplace," Gorga said. "There is great opportunity to grow what each has started and together take our business and product strategies to the next level."

"ITG is already a major player in the United States and Mexico and intends to internationalize further," Ross said. "If our government creates a NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]-friendly Central American Free Trade Agreement and involves the quotas contained in Chinas WTO [World Trade Organization] accession agreement, any international initiative would be additive to our business rather than replacing US operations. "

April 2004