Following approval by the EU Commission on Competition in Brussels shortly before Christmas, Masco Corp. has increased its previous 27% share in Hansgrohe AG to 64.35% by acquiring interests from various branches of the Grohe family. Hansgrohe shareholders voted to reorganize the shareholder structure in late December, with the active support of the company's board, based on its positive experience in a relationship with Masco spanning nearly 20 years. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The existing management board of Hansgrohe retains leadership of the Hansgrohe Group. Klaus Grohe, son of Hans Grohe, who founded the company in 1901, is chairman.

Klaus Grohe said in a statement that this move was necessary to ensure the future of the company in the face of growing competition through consistent internationalization. Also, Masco will provide Hansgrohe with new access to products, technologies and markets, he said.

Masco's affiliation with Hansgrohe began in the late 1970s with a cooperative venture to develop a new line of faucets for European markets based on

Masco's proprietary technology.

Hansgrohe has annual sales of more than $300 million. Its products include hand-held and fixed showers, luxury shower systems, whirlpool tubs, steam showers and kitchen and bath faucets. These are marketed through wholesalers, kitchen and bath distributors and retail outlets in the United States, but principally through plumbers and bath wholesalers in Europe.

The company operates 10 manufacturing facilities and 19 distribution centers in Europe, North America and Asia, and employs nearly 2,500 people.

Masco Corp. has 55,000 employees and has sales of close to $8 billion. Among its plumbing brands are Delta Faucet, Brass Craft, Alsons, Aqua Glass and Peerless.

The increased ownership will further foster the exchange of manufacturing, marketing and research and development information between Masco and Hansgrohe, and encourage collaboration on strategic initiatives and joint purchasing programs, Masco said in a statement. The company expects the transaction to contribute modestly to its 2003 earnings.