Parts of Waterford Wedgwood may be sold off

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The Independent Online

Parts of failed china and crystal maker Waterford Wedgwood could be sold to private equity after buyout group KPS Capital Partners signed a letter of intent, administrators announced today.

New York-based KPS is now thrashing out the final details of a potential takeover of "certain assets" of the group, which collapsed into administration earlier this week.

Waterford Wedgwood chief executive David Sculley said the letter of intent agreement with KPS was a "critical step forward" for Waterford Wedgwood.

Mr Sculley added: "We commend KPS for its confidence in our company, for the enormous amount of time, effort and resources expended by KPS globally that have resulted in reaching this important stage. I look forward to working towards the successful completion of a deal."

KPS is understood to be the private equity firm that had been in talks over a possible offer for Waterford Wedgwood before it called in administrators on Monday for parts of its UK and Irish businesses.

Waterford, which can trace its origins back 250 years, collapsed after those negotiations failed to bear fruit and its lenders' patience ran out.

Around 2,700 jobs are now under threat in the UK and Ireland after the move.

Administrators Deloitte confirmed they remained in talks with other parties regarding Waterford asset sales.

But they said they were "fast tracking" sale talks to try to secure the future of the group, best known for Wedgwood pottery, Royal Doulton and Waterford crystal.

Angus Martin, joint administrator, said on the KPS talks: "This is an important step towards our key objective of maximising value for stakeholders."

Waterford Wedgwood's UK business employs around 1,900 retailing and manufacturing staff, including 600 at its manufacturing base in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.

The Irish arm has around 800 staff based in Waterford.

The firm had struggled for years despite attempts to restructure the business, new product launches and more modern lines designed by stars such as chef Gordon Ramsay and designer Sir Terence Conran.