Business Irish

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Waterford Crystal is sold to Finnish firm


Patrick Edwards

INVESTORS who have more than tripled their money turning around Waterford Wedgwood say they are in the hunt for more Irish deals.

New York-based private equity company KPS bought Waterford Wedgwood for €107m after it went into receivership in January 2009.

KPS has now agreed to sell the business for €390m to Finland's Fiskars.

"We are open for business. We would welcome an opportunity to invest in Ireland again," KPS managing director Michael Psaros said yesterday.

KPS specialises in buying and managing the "turnaround" of struggling manufacturing business. The turnaround of the former Waterford Wedgwood, now renamed WWRD, is its only Irish deal to date.

The renamed WWRD manufactures under brands including Wedgwood, Waterford and Royal Doulton. It has global sales of $432m, about half of Fiskars' annual revenue. Fiskar is a 250-year-old firm, which owns the Royal Copenhagen homeware brand.

The Finnish firm had been expected to pursue new deals after it divested some financial assets last year that also prompted a special dividend.

"The purchase price of 13 times per EBIT looks sensible to me. That's the same valuation level that Fiskars itself has," said Nordea analyst Rauli Juva.

"Fiskars seems to think they will benefit from a wider, more global brand portfolio."

The deal is expected to close at the beginning of July.

Waterford Wedgwood was put up for sale by its owners in Janaury, just six years after being rescued from the brink of collapse.

KPS hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for WWRD which owns the Royal Albert and Royal Doulton luxury brands as well as Waterford and Wedgwood. Most of the company's crystal is now made outside Ireland.

Its former majority owner, media tycoon Anthony O'Reilly, spent more than €500m to keep the company afloat. However, it struggled with falling demand for luxury china which cannot go into a dishwasher.


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