Wace parts ways with chief executive and passes dividend

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The Independent Online
Wace, the stricken printing and imaging company, whose shares have crashed from 280p to 24p in less than two years, announced yesterday that Trevor Grice, its chief executive, was leaving the group and that it would not be paying a dividend this year. Wace's shares fell 1.5p to 2p.

Peter Brown, Wace's chairman, said the company was also reviewing whether it would pay dividends on its preference shares. He said that although there were concerns from investors about the board's decision to review the preference dividend, investors were relieved that Wace had renegotiated its debt with its banks.

Wace angered investors earlier in the year, when the heavily borrowed group failed to inform them, but subsequently had to admit that it had breached its banking covenants. Mr Brown said the company had stemmed losses in the US and was rapidly reducing debt through disposals, including the long-awaited sale of Chicago Photo Lab for pounds 800,000. He said the company was repositioning itself as a leading player in the digital imaging market. "We are one of the few companies set up to handle this market, which is becoming a global industry," he said.

Analysts said the company still had a lot to prove and that the departure of Mr Grice, who will continue to act as a consultant on the group's printing division on a three year contract, was overdue.

One analyst said: "The question still remains whether this tinkering is just putting off the evil day when the company goes belly-up. Wace has to prove it can create a long term business. This company still has no interest cover and is making trading losses."