PARIS, March 6, 2001 (PRNewswire) — Rhodia, Schneider Electric, Thomson multimedia and Usinor announce the creation of KeyMRO, a joint company specializing in purchasing via the Internet.

The new company will purchase general and industrial goods and services, not directly involved in production. Initially the company will cover Europe and the United States before expanding its business to the rest of the world in 2002.

KeyMRO’s creation marks the first time that a group of industrial companies has created a company for other industrials to negotiate their purchasing via the Internet, without creating an actual marketplace.

This move will position the four founding companies as market-makers, forming a relationship between e-business operators, customers and suppliers. KeyMRO’s role is fully compatible with the founding companies’ e-procurement initiatives. KeyMRO will operate upstream enabling the founders to optimize purchasing and procurement processes and reduce their total costs of buying non-production goods and services.

The role of KeyMRO is to:

* select and maintain suppliers,

* coordinate a network of e-business operators, including the marketplace,

* negotiate a framework contract for goods and services purchasing,

* provide advice on sourcing and assistance for e-procurement projects.

KeyMRO, which is already operational, is a completely independent company with its own management team and start-up capital of four million euros. From the outset, its four founding companies have agreed to become its initial customers by contributing a minimum of 20% of their global general and industrial goods and services purchasing (excluding production), representing around 12 billion euros.

About Rhodia

Rhodia is one of the world’s leaders in specialty chemicals providing products and services to the automotive, health care, fragrance, apparel, electronics, personal care and environmental markets. Rhodia generated net sales of 7.4 billion euros in 2000 and employs 30,000 people worldwide. Rhodia is listed on the Paris and New York stock exchanges.

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About Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is the worldwide specialist in electrical distribution, industrial control and automation through its world-class brands Merlin Gerin, Modicon, Square D and Telemecanique. It fulfils and anticipates its customers’ requirements in the energy, construction, industry and infrastructure markets.

Schneider Electric’s 67 500 employees generated sales of EUR 9.7 billion in 2000 via 9000 sales outlets in 130 countries.

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About Thomson Multimedia

With sales of 9.1 billion euros (U.S. $ 8.3 billion) in 2000 and 67,000 employees in more than 30 countries, Thomson multimedia (Paris Sicovam: 18453) (NYSE: TMS – news), provides a wide range of technologies, systems, finished products and services to consumers and professionals of the entertainment and media industries. To advance and enable the digital media transition, Thomson multimedia has five principal activities: Displays and Components, Digital Media Solutions, Consumer Products, New Media Services, and Patents and Licensing. The company distributes its products under the popular THOMSON and RCA brand names.

For more information, visit .

About Usinor

With 13.6 billion euros of sales and 22.15 million tons of raw steel production in 1999, 64,000 employees, Usinor is one the world’s largest steel makers. Its ambition is to become a world leader in the production, processing and marketing of carbon and stainless flat products.

Usinor steel is today used in the manufacture of one out of every three cars, in more than one-third of household appliances and in nearly one-third of the packaging in Europe. Usinor actively supports its customers’ business growth throughout the world by working closely with them to develop innovative steel solutions tailored precisely to their needs.

Based on its well-established positions in Europe and North America, Usinor has progressively built up of a global presence by acquiring controlling interests in J&L (U.S.A) and Thainox (Thailand), together with significant stakes in Acesita and CST in Brazil. More recently, the group has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, with Arbed and Aceralia expressing their intention to join together into a new company.

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SOURCE: Thomson multimedia