Maytag questions give Whirlpool an opening

Maytag questions give Whirlpool an opening
 
Date July 26, 2005
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By CAROL ANN RIHA

Associated Press Writer

DES MOINES — Whirlpool Corp. is still reviewing Maytag Corp.’s seemingly chilly reception to its sweetened offer of $18 per share for the Iowa-based appliance maker.

“Their press release was a little bit of a dance, but ‘We won’t slow dance,'” said Laura Champine, an analyst with Memphis, Tenn.-based Morgan, Keegan & Co. “It was a starting place.”

Maytag, in a brief statement late Sunday, acknowledged that Whirlpool’s offer is better than the $14-per-share offer under its existing merger agreement with Ripplewood-led Triton Acquisition.

Still, it said it needed more information before turning its secrets over to a competitor.

The statement cited Maytag‘s uncertainty “as to the timing of completion, the form of consideration and … the mechanisms referred to by Whirlpool to address regulatory and other closing risks.”

Maytag spokesman John Daggett declined to elaborate Monday.

“We’re analyzing Maytag‘s statement,” Stephen Duthie, Whirlpool spokesman, said Monday.

Champine said she saw nothing coy in Maytag‘s statement.

“I think that they feel they need to firm things up with Whirlpool before they make any kind of commitments to them,” she said.

She thought Whirlpool would act quickly to assuage Maytag‘s concerns.

In a letter Friday, Whirlpool President and CEO Jeff M. Fettig said the Benton Harbor, Mich.-based company had been disappointed at Maytag‘s response to its “superior proposal” and accused Maytag executives of indecision.

But Champine said the letter also provided Newton-based Maytag with key information, including that Whirlpool would pay whatever fee would be required if Maytag broke its agreement with Triton.

Fettig’s letter also said Whirlpool’s lawyers had provided Maytag with an explanation of why Whirlpool sees no antitrust problems with the deal.

Champine said it was important that Whirlpool had informally checked with top customers and found no objections to the deal.

“If the customers aren’t going to say it’s anticompetitive, it’s tougher for anyone to make that argument,” Champine said.

She said she was sure Whirlpool would like to proceed with examining the books as quickly as possible.

Whirlpool has said that the value of the deal “derives its value from important efficiencies and the opportunity for Maytag brand revitalization.”

Maytag brands include Hoover, Jenn-Air, Magic Chef and Amana.

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