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Lennox closes deal on Service Experts

DALLAS, TX — Lennox International Inc. has completed its acquisition of Service Experts, Inc., creating a separate retail company within the corporation and making it the country’s single largest residential-light commercial dealer with sales of over $1 billion.

The deal, valued at $300 million, is the largest single contractor acquisition in the new era of consolidation in this sector.

It is based on the equity issued and the debt assumed by Lennox. It calls for each Service Experts share to be converted into a right to receive 0.67 Lennox International shares. About 12.2 million shares of Lennox stock will be involved.

The deal was completed with shareholders of both companies voting in separate meetings held in Richardson, TX, and Brentwood, TN.

“We’re proud to welcome Service Exerts to Lennox International,” said John Norris, Lennox chairman. “This transaction is consistent with our previously stated strategy for growth in the retail hvac market.”

Norris said the Lennox retail management team and the Service Experts field network had many chances to work together over the past several months. “We are more convinced than ever that these are the type and quality of dealers we want to help build our retail operations.”

A meeting between the two teams is scheduled for Feb. 3-5 in Dallas, Norris said.

The acquisition ends the three-year life of Service Experts, one of four nationally consolidated and publicly traded contractors that sprang up in 1996-97.

Another consolidator, American Residential Services, has been acquired by ServiceMaster. The other two, ComfortSystems USA and GroupMac, continue as stand-alone companies.

(A partial list of dealers rolled up by Service Experts appears below.)

At its peak, Service Experts’ stock soared to $35 after opening at $13. Since its formation, the company acquired more than 300 dealers using a combination of cash and equity. Many of the acquired contractors were members of the Contractor Success Group (CSG). At the time of its sale, Service Experts had 120 service centers in 36 states.

However, 18 months after its formation, the contractor’s stock price eroded, and last week it was trading at the $7 range. The company’s 1999 sales are in the $450 million-plus range.

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