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Haier, partners drop bid to buy Maytag
Updated: 2005-07-20 11:08

NEW YORK - Haier Group, China's largest appliance maker, and its two private equity partners have dropped out of the $1 billion-plus bidding race for Maytag Corp., Maytag said on Tuesday.

A woman visits the exhibition stand of Haier at the Beijing technology fair in this May 23, 2005 photo. Haier and its partners have dropped the bid to buy US company Maytag Corp. [newsphoto]
The group's withdrawal from the bidding leaves two suitors -- private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings and larger appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. -- vying for the struggling U.S. company, whose iconic brands include Jenn-Air and Hoover.

Maytag shares, which had zoomed past Whirlpool's $17 a share offer on expectations of a bidding war, fell 2 percent to $17.15 in after-hours trade on Tuesday.

"Haier certainly liked the idea of buying Maytag, but we believe it learned in the due diligence just how much of a challenge integrating this business would be," said Eric Bosshard, an analyst with FTN Midwest Securities, who follows both Maytag and Whirlpool.

"While it appears to be down to Whirlpool and Ripplewood, we believe (Maytag's) board will have a hard time turning down the sure thing from Ripplewood for the upside bid with uncertainty from (Whirlpool)," Bosshard said in an e-mail.

Maytag's board will meet later this week to decide if it wants to pursue Whirlpool's offer, according to sources.

In May, an investor group led by Ripplewood, a New York-based private equity firm, submitted a bid to buy Maytag for $1.1 billion, or $14 a share.

A month later, Maytag said that Haier and two private equity firms -- Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group -- were exploring a $16 a share bid for the company.

Then Whirlpool launched a surprise offer on Sunday for more than $1.3 billion, or $17 a share. Whirlpool, which also has the Roper and KitchenAid brands, said it would pay at least 50 percent in cash and the balance in shares.
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