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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2004

American Stock Exchange OKs Ohio Art request, de-lists shares

BRYAN - Ohio Art Co.'s stock no longer is listed on American Stock Exchange, but the toymaker is still required to report its finances to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Williams County company said yesterday.

After being traded for 35 years on AMEX, Ohio Art's stock closed Friday at $9.20 a share. Yesterday, its stock was available on the largely unregulated Pink Sheets, an over-the-counter exchange. It wasn't clear whether any shares were traded, however.

The company said it was notified late Friday that its request to withdraw from listing on the American Exchange was granted, effective yesterday, said Jerry Kneipp, company chief financial officer.

"This enables to, I think, move forward in the direction we have been planning to go for the last six months," he said.

Ohio Art announced six months ago it wanted to de-list from the major stock exchange and de-register as a public company with the SEC, drawing the ire of some shareholders.

De-registering would free the firm from complying with the 2-year-old Sarbanes-Oxley Act's reporting and disclosure requirements, potentially saving the financially struggling firm an estimated $200,000 to $700,000 a year.

The earliest it can de-register is 90 days after its removal from the stock exchange.

A company with fewer than 300 shareholders of record ordinarily can voluntarily de-register its stock if it is not traded on a national exchange. Ohio Art, though, notified the SEC this month is has 313 shareholders of record.

Mr. Kneipp said Ohio Art officials are working with their attorneys on the reporting issue.

The 96-year-old Bryan firm, which had a loss of $447,000 last year on revenues of $28.7 million, has been struggling financially for the past two years. It revenues are half what they were four years ago. It was the only northwest Ohio firm listed on the American Stock Exchange.

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