Herff Jones' acquisition of Texas firm aborted

December 5, 2008

An acquisition in the works between Herff Jones Inc., the Indianapolis-based giant that makes class rings and other educational products, and an Austin, Texas, competitor has been ended by mutual agreement, the parties said Friday.

The acquisition target, American Achievement Corp., is owned by Austin-based AAC Group Holding Corp.

Herff Jones offered no further comment on the deal, which was announced in May. American Achievement said regulators would not approve the deal, but would not discuss details.

Had the deal been completed, it would have been the second time in four years for American Achievement to trade hands.

In 2004, the company was acquired from Castle Harlan Inc. by another New York private equity firm, Fenway Partners Inc.

Herff Jones has been on an acquisition binge.

In April, it bought Framing Success Inc. of Virginia Beach, an education supplier in Virginia Beach, Va. In March, Herff Jones acquired Murphy Cap & Gown Co. of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Based at 4501 W. 62nd St., Herff Jones is owned through an employee stock plan, and has 4,000 workers at 19 U.S. plants.

It employs about 500 in Indiana at its headquarters and plants that print graduation announcements and make maps, globes and other educational materials.

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