US-led group to buy Italian porcelain maker Richard Ginori

MILAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Italy's distressed porcelain maker

Richard Ginori 1735, 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

and Parmalat.

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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