Parts of china and crystal maker Waterford Wedgwood could be sold to private equity after buyout group KPS Capital Partners signed a letter of intent, administrators announced today.

New York-based KPS is now finalising the details of a potential takeover of 'certain assets' of the group, which went into administration earlier this week.

Waterford Wedgwood Chief Executive David Sculley said the letter of intent agreement with KPS was a 'critical step forward' for Waterford Wedgwood.

Mr Sculley added: 'We commend KPS for its confidence in our company, for the enormous amount of time, effort and resources expended by KPS globally that have resulted in reaching this important stage. I look forward to working towards the successful completion of a deal.'

KPS is understood to be the private equity firm that had been in talks over a possible offer for Waterford Wedgwood before it called in administrators on Monday for parts of its Irish and UK businesses.

Waterford, which can trace its origins back 250 years, collapsed after those negotiations failed to bear fruit and its lenders' patience ran out.

Around 2,700 jobs are now under threat in Ireland and the UK after the move.

Administrators Deloitte confirmed they remained in talks with other parties regarding Waterford asset sales.

But they said they were 'fast-tracking' sale talks to try to secure the future of the group, best known for Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood pottery and Royal Doulton.

Angus Martin, joint administrator, said on the KPS talks: 'This is an important step towards our key objective of maximising value for stakeholders.'

The company has around 800 staff at its Irish base in Waterford.

The cpmany's UK business employs around 1,900 retailing and manufacturing staff, including 600 at its manufacturing base in Stoke-on-Trent.