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COLUMBUS MCKINNON WINS FTC APPROVAL FOR MERGER

Columbus McKinnon Corp. has gotten a green light from federal regulators to go ahead with its plans to buy Yale International Inc., the Amherst chain and hoist manufacturer said today.

The approval from the Federal Trade Commission for the $260 million merger came quietly on Friday when the 10-day waiting period expired for regulators to review the deal under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

The approval came a little less than a month after federal regulators asked for additional information from Yale and Columbus McKinnon on the proposed merger -- a request that thwarted the Amherst firm's hopes to wrap up the deal by the end of September.

Robert L. Montgomery Jr., Columbus McKinnon's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the FTC's request for additional information was wide-ranging and required the company to send about 30 boxes of material to federal regulators.

"The approval was expected, but it's always nice to have expectations meet up with reality," he said.

The company's twice-extended tender offer for North Carolina material handling equipment maker's stock will expire at midnight on Wednesday. About a quarter of Yale's common stock had been tendered by last Tuesday and Montgomery said the company now is close to hitting the 50 percent mark, with a flurry of shares expected to be tendered before the Wednesday deadline now that the deal was been approved.

If more than 90 percent of Yale's shares are tendered by Wednesday, the company can complete the deal without holding the special shareholders meeting that will be required if between 51 percent and 90 percent of Yale's stock is turned over in the tender offer, Montgomery said.

Either way, the process is not expected to slow Columbus McKinnon's efforts to meld Yale into its own operations, he said. "I don't think it will slow down the integration process because we'll own more than 50 percent of the stock," Montgomery said.

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