Impress Metal Packaging Holdings B.V. ("Impress"), a world leader in the metal packaging industry, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire all of the H. J. Heinz Company ("Heinz") can-making assets in North America and form a global strategic relationship with Heinz.

Under the agreement, Impress would acquire and operate all five of Heinz's North American can-making operations located within Heinz's food processing plants in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; Terminal Island, California; American Samoa; and Puerto Rico; including one stand-alone end (lid)-making and coated sheet facility in Weirton, West Virginia. Together these five plants employ approximately 920 people. Impress expects to complete the acquisition in early August, 2000. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The agreement remains subject to various conditions, including receipt of necessary consents, final negotiation of related agreements and financing.

Under the terms of the strategic agreement, Impress will have an initial 10-year Supply Agreement for all Heinz metal food can requirements at its StarKist Seafood and Heinz Pet Products facilities throughout North America.

Impress and Heinz began their successful alliance in Europe in 1999, when Impress was awarded a sole supplier contract for Heinz Seafood canneries in France, Portugal and the Seychelles. To reduce freight and inventory costs, Impress constructed a wall-to-wall facility in the Seychelles to produce half-pound tuna cans. In January 2000, to support Heinz's drive to improve product convenience, Impress entered in a multiyear contract with Heinz Europe in the Grocery market. Under that agreement, Impress is annually supplying two billion ends, including one billion of the newly introduced, user friendly ring pull Easy Open lids.

Dominique Damon, Chief Executive Officer of Impress commented: "The acquisition of the Heinz can-making plants in North America will be a significant outcome to our existing, successful global partnership with Heinz. The two companies will work together to ensure a smooth transition process from both an employee and operational basis. The Supply Agreement would allow us to provide innovative packaging solutions, total supply chain management and economies of scale to address Heinz's goals and strategies for its tuna brands and pet foods. We strongly believe that innovation in food products is increasingly important and Impress will support it in North America as it does successfully in Europe through the implementation of high value-added, differentiated metal packaging solutions."

Impress Metal Packaging Holdings B.V. ("Impress") is a world leader in the metal packaging industry and developing innovative steel and aluminum packaging solutions that provide can appeal and convenience to chosen selected markets for the food and decorative and protective finishes markets. Through alliances built with its customers, Impress provides unique blueprints for design-to-delivery solutions that optimize supply chain management, improve cost efficiencies and increase value. Impress employs over 7000 people in 39 plants throughout 14 countries in Europe, Japan, and the Seychelles. Further information on Impress Group is available at (website in process).