Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

US firm in talks to buy Wedgwood

A Royal Doulton figurine produced for the Waterford Wedgwood group
The firm also includes the Royal Doulton brand

The joint administrators for Waterford Wedgwood are in advanced talks with US private equity firm KPS Capital Partners to buy most of the firm.

The iconic but debt-laden china and ceramics firm was hit by the downturn and went into administration on Monday.

The parties are working "expeditiously" to agree the terms of the deal and secure the future of the company, which employs 1,900 people in the UK.

A deal is set to be reached in the next few weeks, sources said.

The joint administrators and the receiver said they had entered into a letter of intent with KPS Capital partners, a New York based firm.

David Sculley, chief executive of the firm said: "This is a critical step forward for Waterford Wedgwood."

"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."

No information regarding possible implications for jobs or the cost of the deal was revealed.

Workforce

The Irish-based business is known for its Wedgwood pottery, Royal Doulton and Waterford crystal and has been known as an iconic name in British pottery for more than two centuries.

Of the 1,900 UK employees, about 600 work in manufacturing at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.

The Irish section has about 800 staff based in Waterford.

Elsewhere, the firm employs 5,800 people. Indonesia is the largest manufacturing centre, with 1,500 people working on production.

In 1987, it merged with the well-known brand Waterford Crystal to create Waterford Wedgwood.

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Sir Arthur Bryan demonstrates the toughness of china inside Wedgwood's factory in 1968



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