Sentinel completes recapitalization of Cottman and distributes dividend to shareholders



NEW YORK, December 18, 2002 - Sentinel Capital Partners is pleased to announce a $33 million leveraged recapitalization of Cottman Transmission Systems, LLC. Headquartered in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Cottman is a leading franchisor of automotive transmission centers that repair, remanufacture and service transmissions and related drive line components.

"Cottman has demonstrated an ability to thrive during an exceedingly difficult economic environment and this recapitalization rewards the company for its superior performance," said David Lobel, Sentinel's Founder and Managing Partner. "Moreover, Sentinel and Cottman's management were able to enjoy a partial realization on our equity investments," Mr. Lobel added.

Cottman opened its first transmission repair center on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia in 1962. With more than 365 centers in the US and Canada, Cottman, the "Transmission Physician," operates one of the largest chains of transmission service and repair centers in North America. Cottman has earned many industry awards and has been consistently ranked among the top franchise organizations in the US.

"We are delighted to have worked on this recap with Cottman's management team who have done a fantastic job, and we look forward to continuing to assist management in every way possible," said Jim Coady, a Sentinel Principal.

Antares Capital Corporation and GE Capital Commercial Finance, Cottman's existing senior lenders, co-managed a $33 million senior secured credit facility for the transaction.

"Cottman is well positioned to continue its aggressive growth strategy in the transmission repair aftermarket. The demographics of this industry are very attractive and the interest we are receiving from prospective franchisees is unprecedented," said Todd Leff, Cottman's Chief Executive Officer. "With innovations such as our National Fleet Program, extended warranty protection, and 24-Hour Emergency Towing Hotline, Cottman has established a leadership position in the industry," added Mr. Leff.

Cottman's formula of convenience, quality, and excellent service has generated consistent growth in sales and profits. Cottman has also successfully grown comparable store sales for the past several years. Management's strategic objective is to reinforce Cottman's position as the market leader in the transmission repair aftermarket by continuing to rapidly expand its geographical coverage, providing outstanding service to its franchisees, and rolling out national advertising programs.