KPS Signs Deal for Waterford Wedgwood Assets

DUBLIN (Reuters) – U.S. private equity group KPS Capital Partners will buy assets of British and Irish businesses of Waterford Wedgwood, the luxury tableware maker’s receiver said on Friday.

“We are pleased to announce that we have signed a contract with KPS Capital Partners,” David Carson, a partner with Deloitte and the receiver of the indebted group, said in a statement.

The deal includes assets within Waterford Crystal Ltd, the pottery business Wedgwood Ltd and fine china maker Royal Doulton, the statement said. It did not however clarify KPS’ plans for production at each of the manufacturing facilities.

It also did not list German porcelain maker Rosenthal as part of the deal.

“As part of the transaction, KPS is purchasing certain overseas assets and businesses of the Waterford Wedgwood Group,” it added.

A source familiar with the transaction said KPS was not acquiring the production facilities at the group’s flagship Waterford crystal plant in Ireland or its equipment.

“KPS is encouraging the government and local business leaders and unions to work constructively to create a manufacturing company utilising these assets,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“If that company is able to supply crystal products to the new company that KPS is creating to acquire these assets, then … KPS is prepared to have the new company purchase that product as a supply agreement,” the source added.

KPS and Deloitte declined to elaborate on the future of the Waterford plant.

Workers at the plant started an indefinite sit-in last month in protest against plans by the receiver to cease production and cut 480 jobs.

The Unite trade union said on Friday it welcomed the sale to KPS but added that it would continue its protest until it reaches a deal on maintaining a manufacturing facility and providing compensation to those who stand to lose their jobs.

“Until such time as that happens the sit in at the Waterford Crystal visitor centre, which has done so much to maintain morale and show to the world the passion the workers have for the past, present and future of the company, will continue,” it said. ($1=.7847 euros)

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins and Andras Gergely; Editing by Simon Jessop)