Sometimes, ducking behind political skirts can be a wise choice

Nov 17, 2006 | 04:27 PM | Paul Schaffer

Wise Metals Group LLC, with some key business indicators improving but a shaky financial structure, has bought itself time by playing its political card as an employer of 1,000 people at an aluminum sheet mill in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Spurred in part by a rating service comment that "the company's current liquidity level is insufficient for near-term operations and to meet the debt service requirements for the remainder of 2006," Wise played host to Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and the chief executive officer of Retirement Systems of Alabama, David Bronner.

"The governor was quite impressed by our people and our operations," David D'Addario, Wise's chairman and chief executive officer, said. "He introduced us to Dr. Bronner."

The result was a new source of financing a $30-million credit line for three years from two of the state's pension funds at a fixed interest rate of 10.7 percent. The deal is based on a sale-leaseback agreement on what the company refers to as "certain pieces of production equipment."....

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