Belfast Telegraph

Optimism as Waterford Wedgewood restructures

Waterford Wedgwood is “optimistic” about raising funds following talks with potential investors, as the management team looks to put the group famous for its crystal back on track.

One source close to the company said: “There is huge restructuring going on; Waterford is looking at numerous ways of fund raising, and the talks with investors are the most prominent.”

He added that the group was “close to one investor in particular” and was “pretty optimistic” that the funds could be raised. The fine china and crystal maker added that a pre-condition for such an investment was likely to be a “comprehensive financial restructuring”. This means raising more funds than it originally intended.

The company brought in a new management team, headed by chief executive David Sculley, in April to help lead the group as the consumer downturn intensified. Waterford announced it had been given an extra 30 days’ grace by its lending banks to pay the interest on a €16m loan, which was due yesterday. Waterford's management said it was confident of continuing the investor and senior lender discussions, as it looks for the necessary stability to complete the financial restructuring strategy. It added there was no certainty given the “current extraordinary market conditions”.

Waterford has also looked to cut costs by lowering headcount, closing sites and move production abroad as part of its overhaul. The group pleased the market when it announce it was looking at a sale of Rosenthal, its ceramics unit in Germany, run by investment banking advisory JP Morgan Cazenove earlier this year. It hopes the move could raise €150m, but there was no update from the group yesterday.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly, chairman of Waterford Wedgwood is also the proprietor of Independent News & Media, the parent company of The Belfast Telegraph.

Belfast Telegraph