O’Reilly’s Waterford losses mount up

PERSONAL loan guarantees by Tony O’Reilly and his brother-in-law Peter Goulandris could add a further €40 million to their mounting losses in the collapsed Waterford Wedgwood Group.

Between them the two men, who own 52% of the troubled group, are already looking at a combined loss of €400m, money they invested in the struggling group over a five-year period.

They now face a further bill of €40m if loans they guaranteed cannot be repaid by the receiver, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, confirmation the receiver is holding talks with at least 10 potential buyers of the collapsed business has been welcomed by the trade union Unite, which represents most of the 800 workers employed at the Waterford Crystal plant.

“Unite members remain committed to working closely with prospective purchasers of Waterford Crystal,” said the regional organiser of Unite, Walter Cullen, yesterday.

It was important a quick decision on the sale of the business was achieved as the only way to ensure the group will maintain a strong presence in the city, he said.

He expressed concern that the receiver has suggested workers might be put on short time while desperate efforts to find a buyer for the plant continue.

“We are seeking clarity from him as to what these proposals will entail. We all need to remain acutely conscious that the events which are unfolding day by day are having a huge impact on workers, their families and the whole region,” he said.

Unite said in a statement it had met again with the receiver and will hold general meetings with its members next Wednesday “to present a clearer picture of events as they are unfolding”.

The receiver to the group, Deloitte Ireland, confirmed yesterday it was in talks with at least 10 potential buyers about a sale of the business’s assets, but would not comment on the identity of the potential buyers.

“To an extent we are in the receiver’s hands but Unite has also appointed Farrell Grant Sparks financial advisers to assist with negotiations on a prospective sale,” said Mr Cullen.

“We also expect the Government to step up with whatever assistance is required to ensure that Waterford Crystal maintains a manufacturing presence in the city, the natural and only possible genuine home of this iconic brand,” he said.

As many as 2,700 Irish and British jobs are under threat.

Deloitte Ireland was appointed as receiver for the company on 5 January as banks withdrew their support for the group.

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