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Hartford Computer Buys Argus

7/16/2003 09:45:00 AM Eastern

Elk Grove Village, Ill. - The Hartford Computer Group acquired Argus Camera on July 14 for an undisclosed sum.

Prior to the acquisition, Hartford had announced a bid of $2.7 million.

According to Argus president William Pearson, Hartford will retain Argus as an independent division and the 67-year old Argus brand and current product line will remain in place. Pearson will stay on as president of the newly created division. Some Argus personnel, primarily in accounting and warehousing, will be let go, Pearson said.

Argus Camera enjoyed sales of $28 million in 2002 but labored under a reported $4.2 million in secured debt to Bank One and the loan company Sequel, in addition to $5 million in unsecured debt. According to the terms of the acquisition, Hartford does not assume the debt.

'We had trouble with Bank One, they were being very inflexible,' said Pearson, who also signaled that slow payment from Office Max was a contributing factor. Argus filed a lawsuit against the office superstore in June, in the hopes of securing $2 million in damages.

A representative from Hartford was unavailable for comment, but the company describes itself on its corporate Web-site as 'a technology service company, IT liquidator, and a multi-dimensional IT equipment provider.'

'This sale will help us to further capitalize our growth,' Pearson said. 'The business has doubled every and we are in need of working capital to improve inventory and go after more retailers.'

Under the 11-year reign of Pearson, Argus transitioned from a 35mm-film camera based business to marketing lower-end digital imaging products, such as key-chain USB cameras and value-priced megapixel models.

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