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Nogging the Nogs, part 1

Whilst most of you were probably at that Watershed thing last night, listening to whining, mock angst indie bands or wannabe Huggy Bears bragging about their misogony/violent tendencies before heading back to their 5 bedroom houses in the nice part of town (yeah, you can tell I wasn’t too impressed with the music on offer last night), I received some info from our Norwegian correspondent which may have a critical effect on WFC’s immediate direction:

Basically, it’s to do with KIR and Kvaerner. Kvaerner are in deep shit financially : NOK3000m (£240m or so, E&OE) is needed very, very quickly. KIR owns 17.8% of Kvaerner through Aker, which would probably cost him in itself – however, one of the main funders of this £240m debt clearance was a big US bank. Who have now withdrawn the offer because of what happened to the WTC. In other words, this money has to be funded from the owners of Kvaerner themselves.

If this isn’t bad enough for KIR, consider the following : Kvaerner’s share price has slumped to at least half of its value on Monday (and was still falling, apparently), and to make matters almost unbearable, the other owners (who had previously resisted KIR’s buyout) now seem willing to sell. Wonder why? The Nog meeja seem to wonder if KIR has the financial clout to do such a buyout – he’s already had to bung £8m just to keep Kvaerner afloat and the Nog stock market wants an investigation over Kvaerner’s misleading info. Hmm, where have we heard that from before?

So, what does this mean for WFC? Well, according to this month’s WSC, KIR was considering selling up from Wyndmore anyway, this above info compounds this. It is believed amongst some WFC circles that the main motivator for the MK move is KIR himself – but, as we all know, even if MK was to happen and very quickly, any money coming through would take a while anyway. Certainly not enough time for Kvaerner (who I would consider KIR’s “jewel”), and perhaps for KIR. Now, could we see a change in ownership at WFC? I’ve long been convinced that if somebody came in for WFC with a £10m-£15m cheque in their hands, KIR would snap it off them with immediate effect. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it could go for about £8m. WFC is losing money for KIR, and more importantly is becoming a source of major embarrasment for him. I don’t know much about Molde’s situation, though all doesn’t seem well there either, or indeed the rest of the Aker conglomerate, but like I said, WFC is one of the most vulnerable parts of KIR’s portfolio.