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Hallmark to Acquire Gift Certificate Company

Hallmark Cards Inc. will acquire privately-held Gift Certificate Center Co. (GCC), one of the top gift certificate providers in the United States.

The sale will be finalized May 31, pending shareholder approval; financial terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 1990 by a group of private investors, GCC was one of the first businesses to provide gift certificates as incentives to corporate clients and individuals. In 1999, the company launched two e-commerce sites: premierechoiceaward.com, which targets the business-to-business sales incentive and recognition business, and giftcert.com, which sells gift certificates directly to consumers.

GCC partners with more than 400 merchants and has more than 5,000 corporate clients throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 1999, the company reported gross revenues of $31 million.

"Acquiring leading companies like GCC is part of an overall growth strategy for Hallmark.com," said John Sullivan, senior vice president, Hallmark Internet Commerce. "It allows us to quickly build our portfolio of services "

In addition to distributing via Hallmark.com, GCC will continue to develop and distribute its products with existing customers. The acquisition also opens the door for GCC distribution options in Hallmark Gold Crown stores and other Hallmark consumer and business-to-business channels.

GCC will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and operating unit of the Hallmark Internet Commerce group within Hallmark's North American Business. In 1999, Hallmark reported consolidated net revenues of $4.2 billion.