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Leading Hearing Aid Manufacturer Named European Company of the Year

SOMERSET, New Jersey, June 17 -- Mikael Worning, president of Oticon USA, today announced that William Demant Holding, the holding company of leading hearing aid manufacturer Oticon has been named the 2003 European Company of the Year, by the European Business Press. With previous award recipients chosen from the ranks of such recognized world-class companies as Nokia, BMW, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Ikea, the award represents a remarkable achievement for a company representing the highly specialized product category of hearing care solutions.

Approximately 6,200 leading financial and manufacturing companies competed for prestigious award which honors European companies that consistently deliver outstanding financial and business results. The award committee, comprised of 47 business newspapers and magazines representing 23 countries, including the Financial Times, The Economist, Dow Jones International and Wall Street Journal Europe, also emphasizes such important criteria as innovation and corporate culture.

"Oticon USA is proud to be part of the worldwide success of Oticon ," Worning stated. "Oticon's strength in many markets, including the United States, can be directly attributed to the worldwide perspective and wealth of global resources that are available to us. This has enabled Oticon to be first in many areas including the introduction of the first fully digital, ear-level hearing aid and the first voice-activated hearing aid."

Despite a flat market for hearing aids in the USA, Oticon USA. has been the biggest contributor to the parent company's robust double-digit increase in sales per year in North America, over the past many years, according to Worning. Worning pointed to Oticon's successful development of a full range product line that enables hearing care practitioners to offer quality hearing solutions to meet a wide range of users' needs and budgets, as being a key factor in this success.

The newly expanded ITE production capabilities at Oticon USA's Somerset headquarters are the largest in the Oticon group outside of Denmark.

In accepting the award at a ceremony in Paris, Niels Jacobsen, President and CEO of William Demant Holding, attributed the success of the company to "our ability as a hearing company to truly listen to the needs of our end-users, our business partners and employees." Jacobsen explained that the resulting insights and knowledge the company has gained enables Oticon to approach the business of hearing solutions with more knowledge-based innovation than competitors.

"Our products and hence success are the results of our commitment to helping people live the lives they want with the hearing they have. It is our daily challenge and the basis of our People First philosophy," he noted.

The company has given high priority to research and development, founding the independent Eriksholm Research Centre in 1977. In 2002, the company invested over $43 million in research and development, which is viewed as vital to Oticon's ability to maintain its position as a world leader in advanced technology hearing instruments. Through Human Link conferences and other seminars and educational activities, Oticon, Inc. regularly shares the latest technological, audiological and business knowledge with hearing care professionals in the U.S. and internationally.

For more information on Oticon click here.

Click here to visit the Oticon website.

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