Bear Stearns Merchant Banking Partners with Senior Financial Services Executive

January 24, 2005

Bear Stearns Merchant Banking (“BSMB”) today announced that it has formed an alliance with Daniel W. Porter, an experienced executive in the financial services industry. In this newly formed partnership, Mr. Porter will work together with BSMB in pursuing investment opportunities in the financial services arena, with a particular emphasis on consumer finance opportunities. With over 25 years of experience, Mr. Porter most recently served as Chairman and CEO of WMC Mortgage, which was recently acquired by GE Capital, and CEO of Wells Fargo Financial Services, a division of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC).

“I am thrilled to be affiliated with BSMB. We are combining our resources and experiences to find unique situations in the financial services sector. Our initial focus will be on non-prime auto, non-prime mortgage, consumer small loan companies and small ticket factoring,” said Mr. Porter.

“BSMB is excited to add someone of such highly regarded expertise in the financial services sector to our team,” said Robert Juneja, a managing director of Bear Stearns Merchant Banking. “Our partnership with Dan demonstrates BSMB’s continuing commitment to pursue investment opportunities in this sector. We look forward to leveraging Dan’s substantial knowledge, relationships and experience to create value for our investors.”

Prior to managing WMC Mortgage and Wells Fargo Financial Services, Mr. Porter served as President of GE Capital’s European Transportation Group and Managing Director of GE Capital Europe in London. Previously, he served as President and CEO of GE Capital’s Retailer Financial Services.