PE firms sought for Waterford buyout

Waterford Wedgewood chairman Tony O’Reilly has spoken to a number of private equity firms about a possible MBO at the luxury goods company.

A number of US private equity firms have been approached about backing a possible buyout of Irish luxury goods manufacturer Waterford Wedgewood, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Carlyle Group, Blackstone and Soros Private Equity are three firms believed to be holding talks with Tony O’Reilly, chairman of Waterford Wedgewood and owner of troubled media company Independent News & Media Group. Any offer would likely be at a considerable premium to the company’s current market capitalisation, which stands at E260m.

O’Reilly was the driving force behind last year’s E3bn acquisition of Irish telecoms business Eircom in the Valentia consortium with Soros Private Equity.

Talk of a public to private deal for Waterford comes at a time when the company has seen a sharp fall in its value to currently stand at 35 cents per share, its lowest for ten years.

O’Reilly acquired Waterford Wedgewood in 1990 at a time when the company was making a loss. Last year the company reported turnover of approximately E1bn. The company has so far declined to comment on the report.