Waterford Wedgwood goes to US private equity firm KPS

The American private equity partnership KPS Capital Partners has emerged triumphant in the fight to buy Waterford Wedgwood.
The sale of the UK and Irish businesses includes assets within 14 separate companies, including Waterford Wedgwood plc and Waterford Wedgwood UK, Waterford Wedgwood Retail, Wedgwood, Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Royal Doulton, Stuart & Sons and Waterford Crystal. All fell into either administration or receivership in January.

The acquisition has been made by a new company formed by KPS, WWRD Holdings.

Deloitte administrator Angus Martin said the acquisition of the overseas assets and businesses of Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton would take place simultaneously, while the acquisition of those brands’ assets in the UK and Ireland depended on the conclusion of the overseas transactions.

He added: “Completion is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected in March.”

While the businesses are now secure, the sale to KPS will raise questions again over the future of the remaining jobs in Stoke and Waterford. Members of the Wedgwood family mounted a rival bid for the ceramics arm of the business and vowed to maintain manufacturing at the Barlaston, Staffordshire factory, but employees fear that KPS may move it overseas.

Hundreds of jobs have already gone, both at Barlaston and Waterford, over the past few weeks.

In Stoke, both the mayor and the Unity union have called on KPS to keep manufacturing in the city. The union says it “will be sitting down as soon as possible with people representing KPS to find out what their intentions are towards the UK”.

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