Waterford… WTF?

January 5, 2009

beatrix_potter_leftThe cultured Irish classic Waterford Wedgwood is to be boxed up and sold for scrap. Hardly as stunning as its stock symbol (WTF) would imply, the decision to call in receivers is not expected to tempt any last-minute beaus for the debt-laden china and crystal maker. Consumers are looking to dress their tables with lower-priced settings. Analysts are not even convinced a big, fat Greek wedding of a recovery with plate-smashing exuberance would make a whole lot of difference. The company’s debt is bid at just 3 percent of face value and offered at 8 percent.

Its website boasts a combined history of “over 600 years of heritage, tradition and craftsmanship” in its four brands – Waterford, Wedgwood, Rosenthal and Royal Doulton. Efforts to modernize its product range must have been particularly challenging. Barring some breakthrough in plate technology, the company was also reported to be selling its Rosenthal brand before Christmas in an effort to help drag its stock up from the less-than-one-euro-cent level, where it has languished for more than four years.

If nothing else, the demise of WTF means retailer Macy’s will have one less thing to have to try to sell. It will also mean fashion and lifestyle icons Vera Wang and Martha Stewart, as well as Peter Rabbit, will have to go elsewhere to find China.

Other Deals news:

* Bonds of petrochemical company LyondellBasell, which is saddled with $26 billion in debt, remained at just 4 percent of face value after a Jan. 4 deadline to renegotiate the terms of its debt passed. Privately held LyondellBasell said last week it was considering chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S., but a Netherlands-based spokesman for the world’s third-largest petrochemicals firm declined to comment on Monday morning.

* Poland wants to sell its remaining 76.5 percent stake in utility Enea, minority owned by Sweden’s Vattenfall, for 7 billion zlotys ($2.4 billion), the treasury minister was quoted as saying.

* Satyam Computer Services’ management and some funds have approached two smaller rivals about a merger to fend off any possible hostile bid for India’s fourth-biggest software services exporter, the Business Standard said, but one of the firms said it was not interested.

* An Indian investor has offered to buy the entire equity of Egyptian medical equipment firm Alexandria Medical Services for 100.8 million Egyptian pounds ($18.3 million), the stock exchange said.


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