Facing FTC action, U.S. ringmakers call off deal

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:55pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jostens, a leader in the school ring and academic memento market, on Thursday said it had dropped plans to acquire competitor American Achievement Corp - a deal the Federal Trade Commission had said it would fight.

Minneapolis-based Jostens, which is owned by the private marketing and publishing services firm Visant Holding Corp VISAT.UL, had announced in November that it would acquire American Achievement AMACC.UL in a $486 million deal.

Before the companies announced the deal was off, the FTC had voted on Thursday to seek a preliminary injunction to block it on the grounds that it would be anti-competitive.

"The parties' abandonment of the transaction preserves competition for consumers in the markets for class rings, which are an important memento for millions of high school and college graduates across the country," said Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC's bureau of competition. "A combination of two of the three leading manufacturers would have led to higher prices and lower quality for the students and their parents who purchase these rings."

Marc Reisch, Visant's president and chief executive officer, said the acquisition of American Achievement would not have hurt competition.

"However, entering into a protracted litigation with the FTC and the inherent cost and distraction is not in the best interests of our stakeholders," he said.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Bill Trott; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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