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Whirlpool Boosts Maytag Bid

The appliance giant's so-called binding offer represents a 43% premium to an agreed-on bid.
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(WHR) - Get Whirlpool Corporation Report

tightened its embrace of rival



, boosting its unsolicited takeover bid to $20 a share and offering an unusual $120 million reverse breakup fee.

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The new bid is worth $1.6 billion in cash and $977 million in assumed debt, Whirlpool said. Shares in Whirlpool rose 6%, and Maytag jumped 9%.

"Our binding offer reflects both the value we see in the combination of Whirlpool and Maytag and the confidence we have in the ultimate receipt of regulatory approval for the transaction," Whirlpool CEO Jeff M. Fettig said.

The news comes less than a month after Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool stepped into the Maytag acquisition fray. Maytag agreed in May to a $14-a-share takeout by private equity investor Ripplewood Holdings. That transaction was criticized by some investors in Newton City, Iowa-based Maytag as offering an insufficient premium to recent trading prices, considering that a steep plunge in Maytag shares this year had put the stock at multiyear lows.

Subsequently, a group led by Bain Capital and China's Haier offered to pay $16 a share for Maytag before bowing out last month. Whirlpool then stepped in a month ago with a $17-a-share proposal that the company then raised to $18 before Monday's move.

Whirlpool said its so-called binding offer represents a 43% premium to the Ripplewood bid. The offer expires Aug. 20, a day after Maytag holders are due to vote on the Ripplewood deal.

The newly sweetened bid and the breakup fee appear to be aimed at assuaging the fears of Maytag management that a Whirlpool merger wouldn't pass muster with antitrust authorities. Whirlpool spelled out the broad-based trade-group support for its bid in its first sweetened offer last week, but the company appears to have gone another step with Monday's plan in an effort to push Maytag management into a deal. Notable on that front is the reverse breakup fee that would apply if the merger fails to achieve regulatory clearance.

On Monday, Maytag rose $1.61 to $18.59, and Whirlpool added $4.44 to $79.71.