Another US private equity group made an offer for Waterford Wedgwood at the weekend.
Clarion Capital now joins KPS Capital Partners and members of the Wedgwood family in the battle to take control of all or part of the china and glass group.
The news coincided with a third night of sit-ins by employees at the Waterford factory in Kilbarry, Ireland, following the announcement by administrator Deloitte that the site is being shut down, leading to over half the staff losing their jobs.
“Manufacturing will cease with immediate effect at Kilbarry, Co Waterford,” David Carson of Deloitte said in a statement. “As a consequence, approximately 480 employees have been made redundant. The visitors’ centre in Waterford will also close.”
He added: “The decision to cease manufacturing does not necessarily preclude a resumption of operations in Waterford in the future.
“The receiver is continuing negotiations with interested parties with a view to a sale of the company’s assets and those discussions are focused on agreeing the terms upon which a transaction could be completed.”
Waterford staff – of whom there are 800 in total – are refusing to leave the factory until the best chance of a rescue can be secured. During the protests, scuffles have broken out between the employees and security staff.
The bid by Clarion Capital is said to be “substantial”, and is supported by employees for promising to retain manufacturing in Waterford. Rival bidder KPS is reportedly only interested in the Waterford brand.
Meanwhile, members of the Wedgwood family are pressing ahead with their own plan to save the Stoke pottery business. Tom R Wedgwood, a director of Wedgwood in Japan until recently, and Tom D Wedgwood, are heading up a team of four former directors and other Wedgwood family members, and are trying to secure financial backing from the Middle East, Asia and the UK.