Speculation is rife that Waterford Wedgwood is set to embark on its seventh bout of fundraising in four years, just days before the company releases its results.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, the scale and timing of such an initiative “will be determined by the success or otherwise of the planned sale of Rosenthal, its German ceramics unit”.
The sale of Rosenthal, which is due to be completed this autumn, could generate as much as €150 million for the embattled company.
The ‘ST’ report adds that new fundraising has “been on the cards for a number of months” despite a rationalisation programme initiated by acting Chief Executive David Sculley.
It’s anticipated that Friday’s results are “likely to confirm the extremity of the tough trading conditions in America. The company is being hit by the weak dollar and faltering customer confidence”.
Meanw hile, it’s been reported that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was in favour of granting the €39 million loan which Waterford Crystal sought from the Government.
However, in one of his last acts as Finance Minister, Brian Cowen has been identified as the man responsible for black-balling the loan request.
The claims are made in the latest issue of The Phoenix magazine which describes how Mr Cowen “stood up to Bertie and other heavy hitters at cabinet over the request from Waterford Crystal”.
Magazine investigator ‘Goldhawk’ reports that the cabinet was split on the decision, “with Bertie Ahern, Martin Cullen, Micheal Martin and Willie O’Dea all in favour of sanctioning the request”.
Those believed to have been against the loan were Mary Coughlan, Dermot Ahern, Mary Harney, the “decidedly lukewarm” Green Party duo of John Gormley and Eamon Ryan, along with Mr Cowen.
With no consensus in sight at cabinet level, Goldhawk writes that Mr Ahern “entrusted” Mr Cowen, given his portfolio “with the authority to make a decision on the matter”.
And while the decision not to grant the loan was announced a fortnight after the new Taoiseach’s appointment, the magazine contends that Mr Cowen black balled Waterford Crystal’s request during his final days in Finance.
The identity of the decision maker, in the magazine’s view, has led the Sunday Independent, owned by Waterford Wedgwood Chairman Sir Anthony O’Reilly, to ‘demonise’ Mr Cowen.
‘Goldhawk’ told this newspaper that his claims of a cabinet split on the loan decision were “based on talking to informed sources”.
And what of its claims on the “demonisation” of the new Taoiseach by the Sunday Independent?
“This is essentially an educated reading of the ‘Sindo’ strategy, supported by inside views,” he added.