Bear Stearns Merchant Banking Appoints Experienced Retail Operating Partner

December 13, 2006

Bear Stearns Merchant Banking (“BSMB”), a leading private equity firm, today announced that it has added a new operating partner, Richard L. Markee, an experienced executive in the retail industry. With over 30 years of experience, Mr. Markee most recently served as Vice Chairman of Toys “R” Us, Inc., where he was responsible for the growth and expansion of Babies “R” Us. He was also Chairman of Toys “R” Us, Japan. During his tenure at Toys “R” Us, Mr. Markee was responsible for international operations, U.S. toy store distribution, information technology and international franchising. Prior to joining Toys “R” Us, Mr. Markee was Vice President of Merchandising at Target.

“I am delighted to join the BSMB team,” said Mr. Markee. “This is a terrific opportunity to leverage my skills and experience in the sector. I look forward to working with the retail group at BSMB.”

“We are excited to add someone with such depth and experience in the retail sector to our team,” said Richard Perkal, Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns Merchant Banking. “This appointment demonstrates BSMB’s continuing commitment to pursue investment opportunities in retail. We look forward to building upon Richard’s considerable expertise and relationships to create value for our investors.”