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Wedgwood plans foray into Europe

Waterford Wedgwood, the Irish luxury crystal to crockery manufacturer chaired by Tony O'Reilly, is planning a march into continental Europe with a DM105.8m (pounds 35.5m) offer to control Rosenthal, one of Germany's most famous porcelain makers.

The deal to buy its outstanding stake in Rosenthal will give Waterford, which currently sells in the UK, Ireland, US and Japan, a quarter of the German market. Mr O'Reilly said the move was "the next stage in building the company into an international luxury brands group".

Waterford currently already owns or has agreed to acquire 31.4 per cent of Rosenthal and has options to buy another 13.5 per cent, giving the company effective control of 44.9 per cent of the company. The company is offering DM200 a share for the outstanding shares, representing an 18 per cent premium to Rosenthal's closing price on Wednesday.

Though Waterford will control a large share of the German market, German anti-trust authorities have given their go-ahead for the takeover. The deal came less than 48 hours after Mr O'Reilly stepped down as chairman and chief executive of HJ Heinz, the US food manufacturer.