Waterford weathers Asian storm

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The Independent Online
WATERFORD Wedgwood, the premier crystal and ceramics group, provided an astonishing insight at its annual general meeting yesterday into how company law has failed to keep pace with changes in technology and the process of globalisation.

The company's Anglo-Irish roots - Waterford from Ireland and Wedgwood from the UK - causes it to rotate its annual meeting on a biannual basis between London and Dublin. This year it was London's turn.

To allow participation of shareholders in Ireland, the company provided a satellite TV link to the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin. Unfortunately, this would have rendered the formal proceedings of the meeting invalid because company law makes no provision for participation of shareholders based in different jurisdictions.

Dr Tony O'Reilly, chairman, said that representations were being made at government level for a change in the law.

As it turned out, there was only one question from the floor of the meetings in London, but many from Ireland after the formal proceedings had been concluded.

Dr O'Reilly gave an upbeat statement on trading and prospects. "The group is weathering the storm in Asia Pacific and has capitalised on the strength of the North American market," he said.

"It has launched new products, developed new businesses, invested in its core competencies and nurtured its brands. 1998 is proceeding to plan and we look to the future with confidence."