As I predicted in my last post on Wedgwood, the company looks likely to be bought out of administration, according to the BBC. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the interested party is an American private equity firm called KPS Capital.
I say unsurprisingly because the largest part of Waterford Wedgwood’s market is the USA. The deal looks likely to include most of the Waterford Wedgwood group – presumably including its three main brands, Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton.
KPS Capital appear to be a ‘distressed specialist’ fund – sometimes less flatteringly described as a vulture fund – who specialise in buying companies with financial problems. The upshot of this is that they will get the company for a very keen price – but if no one else bids against them, that seems fair, really.
According to The Times, the proposed deal with KPS is likely to leave its two main investors in recent years, Sir Anthony O’Reilly and Peter Goulandris, around £360m out of pocket.
There is no word yet on whether Waterford Wedgwood’s 1,900 UK employees would keep their jobs. However, even before going into administration Wedgwood were planning further outsourcing of ceramics production, so it seems likely that any new owner would do the same – if not more.
The majority of Wedgwood and Royal Doulton production has already been moved overseas and takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the company employs 1,500 people on production.