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Bridgestone/Firestone's Lampe announces retirement

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Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Chairman, CEO and President John Lampe announced today that he will retire on March 31, 2004.

He will be replaced by Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) Chairman, CEO and President Mark Emkes.

Emkes will remain BFNT chairman and CEO after becoming Bridgestone Americas Holding chairman, CEO and president.

"It's a sign of our company's strength that we can promote from within," Lampe said during a press conference this afternoon.

"I've known Mark for 25 years and I can guarantee he's the right person at the right time for the job."

Lampe praised Bridgestone/Firestone employees, his staff, Bridgestone Corp. management and the company's tire dealers during his address.

"You fought alongside us and supported us at every turn," he told dealers. "I can never thank you enough."

Lampe cited spending more time with his family as a factor that contributed to his decision to retire.

He will remain on Bridgestone Americas Holding's board of director at the request of Emkes and parent company Bridgestone Corp.

Emkes -- who was promoted to chairman, CEO and president of BFNT in September 2002 -- says his plan is for company to "evolve into a premier business enterprise," not just a top tire manufacturer.

While there is "still a long way to go in our recovery plan, our team -- under (Lampe's) leadership -- has laid the groundwork for solid business growth in the future."

In addition, Bridgestone has made other related appointments:

* Yuji Tomiyasu, formerly director, Americas and European Operations, for Bridgestone Corp., has joined Bridgestone Americas Holding as executive vice president. He also becomes BFNT president and vice chairman, effective immediately.

* Mike Gorey, Bridgestone Americas Holding vice president and controller, has been named chairman, CEO and president of BFS Diversified Products LLC, Bridgestone's non-tire products subsidiary. Gorey also will become an executive vice president of Bridgestone Americas Holding on Feb. 1, 2004.

Tomiyasu and Gorey will be elected to Bridgestone Americas Holding's board of directors; Tomiyasu begins his term today while Gorey starts his term on Feb. 1.

In a related development, Hiroshi Kanai, Bridgestone Corp.'s executive vice president and CFO, will join the same board on Feb. 1.

Lampe joined Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1973 as a trainee.

After working his way up to store manager, he held positions in Singapore, Denmark, Spain, Costa Rica and Brazil.

After returning to the United States in 1988, he was promoted to president of Bridgestone/Firestone's Dayton Tire division in Oklahoma City, Okla.

In 1995, he was appointed president of Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co. and executive vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS).

In October 2000, he was named chairman, CEO and president of BFS during the company's tire recall.

Under Lampe's watch, Bridgestone Americas Holding went from a $1.67 billion loss in 2001 to a net profit of $83 million in 2002.

His successor, Emkes, has been with the tiremaker for 27 years.

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