U.S.-led group to buy Italian porcelain maker Richard Ginori

MILAN Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:32pm EST

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's distressed porcelain maker Richard Ginori 1735 RG9.MI, which has made fine china tableware for over 270 years, is going to be taken over by a U.S.-led consortium.

Richard Ginori, which has worked with designers such as Gio Ponti and Missoni, is among several Italian brands to fall in foreign hands after failing to stand on their own in an increasingly competitive market.

Burdened by debts, Richard Ginori was first rescued in 2007 by Italian investor Roberto Villa, who restructured and brought the group back on the stock market in 2009.

But fiscal problems and the impact of the credit squeeze during the 2008 financial crisis weighed on the relaunch of one of the symbols of Italian craftsmanship.

The group was put on sale by special administrators appointed to avoid it going bankrupt.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said an offer by a consortium led by American tabletop maker Lenox Corp had been accepted and talks to define the sale would follow.

Romania's largest porcelain manufacturer, Apulum, will also take part in the rescue of the company.

Italy, which is battling against a year-long recession, is losing control of some of its best-known manufacturers. Dubai-based Paris Group bought nearly bankrupt fashion house Gianfranco Ferre last year. Cash-rich investors have also snapped up healthier Italian groups such as Valentino, Bulgari (LVMH.PA) and Parmalat (PLT.MI).

The sale of Richard Ginori had raised concerns among its over 300 employees, mostly based at the group's historic plant in Tuscany.

The Lenox-Apulum offer would preserve production of the Richard Ginori brand in Italy, according to Italy's newswire Ansa.

Lennox has also made china for the White House.

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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