O’Reilly’s house of cards is shaking

Time magazine November 2007

We will have a completely different type of Waterford. Waterford Wedgwood will be a very profitable business in eight to 12 months.

This was Tony O’Reilly’s prediction to the prestigious Time magazine, along with a bullish claim that the newspaper industry was “growing quite slowly, but it is growing.”

Now the predictions have turned to sand.

“Problems at Waterford Wedgwood come at a unfortunate time for Sir Anthony, who is also grappling with €1.4 billion of debts at Independent News & Media (IN&M), his ( separate) media group. Although the two companies are entirely separate, both are under pressure, with IN&M trying to offload its Australian business to reduce debts.”

No one can say that the boss of Irish and UK Independent newspapers including the Belfast Telegraph, ducks a challenge. But with cost-cutting proceeding apace, is the time coming close for predator Denis O’Brien to strike or form an unholy alliance with O’Reilly? The odds on a sale even of shrinking cash cow the Belfast Telegraph must gradually be shortening, as O’Reilly’s house of cards, already fragile before the onslaught of recession, starts to wobble.

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