International Wire Group (IWG) bares it all in the wire business. Through three divisions -- Bare Wire Products, Engineered Products - Europe, and High Performance Conductors -- IWG makes multi-gauge bare, silver-, nickel-, and tin-plated copper wire, as well as engineered wire products and performance conductors. Customers -- General Cable is one of its largest -- include suppliers and OEMs. IWG's wire is used in industrial/energy, consumer electronics, aerospace and defense, medical electronics, automotive, and appliance applications. The company maintains 16 facilities located in the US and Europe (France and Italy). International Wire Group makes the majority of its sales in the US.
The global recession and credit crisis dampened sales for a number of the company's customers, especially those in the aerospace, automotive, data communications/electronics, and industrial sectors. The volatile pricing of raw materials, especially copper, is another lingering concern for IWG. The company depends on four leading suppliers for copper, and does not have long-term supply contracts with any of them, creating concern about the reliability of IWG's copper supply chain. Many of the company's customers have their own captive (in-house) wire production facilities, and they could exclusively turn to those facilities, reducing orders to IWG.
Due to weak demand, the company implemented other cost savings measures, including workforce reductions, plant closures, and the deregistration of its common stock with the SEC. Moving its stock to the OTC market freed up the costs associated with Exchange Act registration. Still, IWG watched its sales drop almost 40% in 2009 over 2008, due primarily to low copper prices and decreased sales volume.
Still hungry for more US wire operations, IWG bought US-based Global Wire Inc. from Israel-based Global Wire Group in mid-2008. Global Wire brought non-ferrous wire and conductors through its Wyre Wynd and Montgomery Wire units, as well as two manufacturing plants in Jewett City, Connecticut, and Littleton, New Hampshire. To reduce overhead, those plants were shuttered in late 2009, shifting production to other IWG facilities across the States.
IWG brought Jefferies & Company, part of Jefferies Group, onboard in 2008 as its exclusive financial advisor. Jefferies is evaluating IWG's strategic alternatives, which may include the sale of the company.
Former IWG chairman Mark Holdsworth, through his affiliation with Tennenbaum Capital Partners (TCP), owns 28% of the company. Holdsworth resigned in the fall of 2009 to pursue other aspects of the business of TCP. Investor James Bennett holds another 19%. – less