“Poor old Heywood Williams,” was the verdict of many in the City after the building products supplier was forced into a pre-pack administration sale on Tuesday after a restructuring deal was scuppered by its largest shareholder Paul Bell
The company had gone from profits of £40m 10 years ago to a market cap of just £1.1m this month after racking up debts of £48m.
Bell is the Isle of Man tax exile who also holds a sizeable stake in retail fit-out group Styles & Wood, a firm he helped refinance earlier this year.
He was peeved the Heywood Williams management team would get a 10% stake under the terms of the deal after creating what he called “a mess”. In the pre-pack sale, that’s exactly what happened anyway. The banks got 80% and employees got the remaining 10%.
Maybe he thought his protestations would buy him a seat at the negotiating table. Or perhaps when he said he would rather kiss his shareholding goodbye than see the original deal go through, he meant it.
Either way, the pre-pack sale has saved 1,000 jobs and management insists it is business as usual. Or hopefully a little better than usual.
Beyond the confines of the Square Mile, many are wondering about the longevity of the truce that appears to have been struck at Laing O’Rourke between chief operating officer Tony Douglas and Ray O’Rourke.
They have reportedly reached a deal whereby Douglas takes control of some parts of the business after not being handed the top job earlier this year. “He’ll be off sooner or later,” said one company boss.
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