UPDATED: Wyndeham sold and 163 jobs at risk at Heron
By William Mitting Monday, 08 December 2008
Wyndeham Press Group (WPG) has been sold to Walstead Investments as it enters into a consultation to make 163 redundancies at its web offset division, Wyndeham Heron.
Walstead, which is backed by Leumi ABL, the asset-based lending arm of Bank Leumi (UK), is understood to have paid £17m for Wyndeham’s debt in a deal that valued the equity at zero. The debt stood at £95m, according to the company’s last accounts.
Industry investor and restructuring specialist Mark Scanlon, who was linked with the deal last month (PrintWeek, 28 November), has now been confirmed as one of the main shareholders, alongside fellow former Vertis owners Richard Fookes and Stephen Hargrave, as well as Paul Utting, who remains chief executive.
The redundancies form part of a restructuring programme, including proposed changes to employee terms and conditions, on which the future of the company could hang.
In a statement released on Monday, the company said: Ongoing financial support from Leumi ABL and Walstead is contingent on the Group completing a restructuring of Wyndeham Heron, its main web offset printing operation, which is expected to be finalised early in 2009.
Scanlon refused to be drawn on the implications of the statement, which seemed to suggest that financial support would be withdrawn if the staff and union do not come to a satisfactory agreement.
Unite said that it would not accept proposals that would breach its national agreement. Unite national officer Steve Sibbald said: They are very much proposals from the company at this stage. They are not demands – trade unions demand things.
Former Wyndeham chief operating officer Roy Kingston has been recruited as an HR consultant to assist with the job cuts.
Scanlon, who claimed Wyndeham had faced almost certain administration without intervention, said he hoped for successful negotiations.
He said: Paul’s got a mandate to improve the performance of the group and in particular Heron... depending on how the process evolves decisions will be made.
Walstead Investments’ acquisition of Wyndeham Press Group came as it emerged that Scanlon, Fookes and Hargrave also provided funding for John Wood’s buy-in management buy-out of Cooper Clegg last month (PrintWeek, 7 November).
However, Scanlon rubbished rumours that there was a plan to merge the two web offset printers. We partially funded the acquisition but we don’t own any equity in the business [Cooper Clegg] and we’re not involved in the management, he said.
Visual Communications Group, formerly Wyndeham Communications Group, separated from WPG in November 2007 and is completely unaffected by any changes that WPG may undergo now or in the future.
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