Waterford Wedgwood bought by US equity firm KPS Capital

Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 00:00

US equity firm KPS Capital has agreed to buy the Irish and UK units of Waterford Wedgwood, the receiver and administrators said today.

The luxury crystal and china group’s banks placed it in receivership two months ago, and production at its Kilbarry, Waterford, HQ shut down several weeks later with the loss of 480 jobs.

But receiver David Carson of Deloitte said today a contract had been signed with KPS Capital, a New York-based private equity limited partnership, under which WWRD Holdings Limited, a company newly formed by KPS, will acquire certain Irish and UK assets of Waterford Wedgwood and the assets of several of its Irish and UK subsidiaries.

The US company is said to be committed to maintaining some employment in Waterford, although it is not known how many of the 708 jobs that were there before manufacturing halted will ultimately be saved.

The purchase by KPS also means that jobs will be saved in Staffordshire in England, where the group’s china manufacturing businesses are based.

In his statement, Mr Carson said: "As part of the transaction, KPS is purchasing certain overseas assets and businesses of the Waterford Wedgwood Group.

“It is expected that the completion of the acquisition of the overseas assets and businesses of Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton will take place simultaneously.

The acquisition of the Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton assets in Ireland and the UK is conditional on satisfactory conclusion of the overseas transactions.”

"The receiver and joint administrators are working with KPS to expeditiously close the Irish and UK transaction and the acquisitions of the overseas assets and businesses. Completion is subject to customary conditions and is expected in March."

KPS is a New York-based private equity firm which uses a mixture of investors’ cash and borrowings to fund its purchases. It specialises in buying manufacturing businesses that are insolvent or facing financial difficulties, although the firm does not limit itself to investing in troubled companies.