Waterford buys stake in Royal Doulton for pounds 11.1m

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The Independent Online

cut-glass and ceramics group, yesterday picked up a near-15 per cent stake in Royal Doulton for pounds 11.1m.

The Irish company said it did not intend to make a general offer for money-losing Royal Doulton, but analysts said the deal left it well placed to derail any potential bids from competitors.

Waterford Wedgwood's foray comes 10 days after Staffordshire-based Royal Doulton admitted that computer-related problems had cost it pounds 12m in lost orders. After the announcement on 10 November, Royal Doulton shares dropped 23 per cent to below 80p, close to their year's low, prompting speculation that it may attract predators. Its shares added 10p to 88p yesterday.

"Waterford Wedgwood has acquired these shares [at 90p each] as a strategic investment and has no intention of making an offer for all of... Royal Doulton," the company said. "However, the group reserves the right to reconsider its position in the event of a third-party offer for Royal Doulton."

Yesterday Royal Doulton said it remained committed to developing its brands and further rationalisation. Waterford Wedgwood shares were unchanged at 0.95 euros.