Home appliance maker

Maytag

(MYG)

said late Thursday that it entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by private equity firm

Ripplewood Holdings

for $14 a share, or $2.1 billion.

Maytag's board has approved the agreement and intends to recommend to shareholders that they vote to approve the deal.

The transaction, which includes the assumption of about $975 million of debt, is expected to close before the end of year.

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Maytag's performance has declined for some time; in its recent first-quarter earnings report, the company said sales slipped 4.2% to $1.17 billion. On May 12, the company cut its quarterly dividend in half to 9 cents a share.

Not surprisingly, Maytag shares shot more than 21% higher to $14.01 in after-hours trading subsequent to the deal's announcement.

In addition to Ripplewood, other members of the investor group are

RHJ International

,

GS Capital Partners

and the

J. Rothschild Group

.