UPDATE 1-US firm Mohawk in talks to buy Italy's Marazzi- sources

Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:21pm EST

* Negotiations at advanced stage - sources

* Price of deal is around $1.2 billion - source

* Marazzi declines to comment

By Stephen Jewkes and Massimo Gaia

MILAN, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. ceramic tile maker Mohawk Industries is in advanced talks to buy the unlisted Italian ceramics maker Marazzi Group, two sources familiar with the deal said on Friday.

"The talks are in an advanced stage with due diligence ongoing, though it is still not completely sure if the deal will go through," one source said.

A second source said the parties were looking at the final details. "But it's a very complex operation ... Mohawk is evaluating the company very carefully," the source said.

The second source said the price of the deal was around $1.2 billion.

Marazzi declined to comment while Mohawk was not immediately available for a comment.

Italy's ceramics industry is focused around the northern town of Sassuolo which accounts for around 80 percent of Italian tile production. It sells its products mainly to the building sector but the global economic slowdown has affected sales.

The Marazzi Group is 51 percent controlled by the Marazzi family and 49 percent owned by private equity funds Permira and Private Equity Partners.

The first source said it was not clear if the Marazzi family would take a stake in Mohawk if the deal went through.

Marazzi, which posted sales in 2011 of around 832 million euros, is a leading ceramics company in many international markets including Russia, Spain and the U.S.

Its products range from porcelain stoneware, crystallized stoneware and single-fired tiles to glass mosaics.

Mohawk - which sells ceramic tiles, carpets and laminates for both residential and commercial use - posted a 10 percent rise in its sales in the third quarter to $1.4 billion.