Clarion beats KPS for Lenox acquisition

Clarion Capital Partners has emerged as the winning bidder for fine china maker Lenox, after the reopening of the process by a bankruptcy court allowed the private investment firm to trump an earlier winning bid by KPS Capital Partners.

New York-based private investment firm Clarion Capital Partners has acquired the assets of china maker Lenox Group in a $100 million deal, beating out an earlier successful bid by distressed investment and turnaround firm KPS Capital Partners in February.

Lenox filed for Chapter 11 protection in November 2008 due to declining revenue and a poor US retail climate, with KPS emerging as the successful bidder for its assets last month. But the reopening of the bidding process by a bankruptcy court in late February allowed a group of investors led by Clarion to overtake KPS’s offer.

The distressed investor had intended to fund the acquisition of Lenox through its $1.2 billion KPS Special Situations Fund III, which closed in June 2007. It recently used that fund to purchase Labatt USA for an undisclosed amount from Anheuser-Busch in February, and earlier to buy assets from china and crystal maker Waterford Wedgwood, which went into administration in January.

Waterford’s former chief executive officer, Peter Cameron, will become the new CEO of Lenox following the expected completion of Clarion’s acquisition in March.