NEW YORK, – February 17, 2004

Castle Harlan, Inc., a leading New York private-equity investment firm, announced today that it and other investors had agreed to sell Verdugt B.V., the world’s largest manufacturer and global marketer of organic acid salts and blends, to CVC Capital Partners (CVC), a large European private-equity firm. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Castle Harlan, Verdugt’s largest shareholder, had acquired the company in February 1999 along with Wachovia Capital Partners, Demetree Investment Group, the principals of US Salt Holdings LLC, CVC and company management. Under the agreement, CVC will acquire the shares of the other investors and, subject to regulatory approval, will own 100% of the business along with Verdugt’s management.

Founded in 1851, Verdugt manufactures organic salts and organic acid blends, which are distributed through four market-focused divisions: Agricultural Products, Fine Chemicals, Clearway de-icers for airport runways and Verdugt Organic Acids (VOA). The company supplies diverse markets, including the pharmaceutical, animal feed and food industries, and has leading market positions in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Verdugt, based in Tiel, the Netherlands, operates principally from two manufacturing bases, in Tiel and in Barcelona, Spain.

The debt facilities for the transaction are being provided by ING Bank NV.