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American Greetings to go private

CLEVELAND — American Greetings announced that it has agreed to be taken private by a group led by some of its top executives for about $602 million.

The executive group was formed by the Weiss family — including chairman Morry Weiss; CEO Zev Weiss; director, president and COO Jeffrey Weiss and others — and will buy the shares of the company they don't already own for $18.20 a piece in cash. This amounts to a 13% premium to American Greetings' closing price of $16.10 last Thursday.

The Weiss family initially offered to buy the Cleveland company in September for $17.18 per share.

"The family believes the transaction is a win for all concerned, including public shareholders," stated CEO Zev Weiss. "The negotiations with the Special Committee and its advisors were vigorous and arm's length, but we're pleased that we were able to come to an agreement that properly respects all parties' interests."

The entire deal is valued at $878 million including assumed debt and a dividend, the company estimates.

In addition to its namesake brand, American Greetings, which sells greetings cards and gifts, the company also owns Carlton Cards, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus.