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Waterford sends mixed signals on Hutschenreuther

Anglo-Irish luxury china and crystal group, Waterford Wedgwood Plc, and its German unit, Rosenthal AG, sent out conflicting signals about the group“s interest in buying German ceramics company Hutsch…

Anglo-Irish luxury china and crystal group, Waterford Wedgwood Plc, and its German unit, Rosenthal AG, sent out conflicting signals about the group“s interest in buying German ceramics company Hutschenreuther AG. A spokeswoman for Waterford Wedgwood said there are “no formal discussions at present and there is no deal on the table.” But a spokeswoman for Rosenthal, Helga Metzel, said that the company was in talks about Hutschenreuther. Metzel said that Rosenthal “is interested in the Hutschenreuther brand.” She declined to comment further. In addition, the head of the company that owns Hutschenreuter, Winterling Porzellan AG, said Rosenthal was the preferred candidate to buy the Hutschenreuter brand. Winterling filed for insolvency in September 1999 and an administrator is now trying to broker a deal for creditors. But the London-based spokeswoman for Waterford Wedgwood clearly tried to downplay any suggestions of a deal. “It“s far too early to predict what the outcome of the administrator“s actions will be,” she said. “We“re one of the world“s largest and most profitable ceramics businesses,” the spokeswoman said. “It“s natural that the administrator would want to talk to Rosenthal – and others – to find a solution to the Hutschenreuter problem. We“re interested in what that outcome will be.” Winterling“s chief, Guenter Fischedick, told Dow Jones Newswires that Rosenthal would buy the Hutschenreuter brand and a Winterling factory as part of a general deal for Winterling creditors. The deal involved a commitment to retain jobs, he said. Fischedick said a Winterling creditors group is due to decide on the matter 2 May. Meanwhile, Winterling and its insolvency administrator, Eberhard Braun, will remain in contact with Rosenthal, he added. Details about the implementation of the accord with Rosenthal still have to be worked out, Fischedick said.

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