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Haier Withdraws from Maytag Bid

Haier Group, China's largest home appliance manufacturer, has withdrawn from the contest to acquire US firm Maytag Corp., according to the latter's website on Tuesday.

Maytag, the third largest appliance maker in the US, said it had received a letter from Haier America Trading and its partners, Bain Capital Partners LLC and Blackstone Management Associates, saying "they have determined not to further pursue the transaction to acquire the outstanding shares of Maytag."

The US$16 per share bid from the Haier-led consortium on June 21 was topped earlier this week by Whirlpool's US$17 offer, totaling US$1.37 billion.

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 US$1.1 billion, or US$14 a share.

A month later, Haier, Bain and Blackstone offered a US$1.28-billion bid, which Maytag immediately said it would consider.

Haier, based in east China's Shandong Province, declined to comment on the withdrawal, saying the firm "cannot provide any information at the current stage" and neither Blackstone nor Bain could be reached.

Wei Huawei, a senior consultant with Beijing Fore-sight Innovation Consulting Co Ltd, said it was a pity and a big loss for Haier to lose the deal.

He said the successful purchase of Maytag would have given Haier -- already a household name in its home market -- instant brand recognition in overseas markets where it has been trying to expand.

Wei thought Haier's acquisition attempt was "too cautious and too slow."

Maytag is a US$4.7 billion home and commercial appliance company focused on North America and certain international markets.

Its brands include Maytag, Hoover, Jenn-Air and Amana. It is the third-largest US appliance maker behind Whirlpool and General Electric.

With an increasing number of Chinese enterprises going abroad, more and more of them are participating in global acquisition campaigns.

Successful cases include computer maker Lenovo's purchase of IBM's PC business and TCL Multimedia's purchase of the TV-making assets of France's Thomson.

(China Daily July 21, 2005)

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