Whirlpool Plugs Into European Market With Indesit

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Appliances maker Whirlpool (WHR) late on Thursday said it would buy a 60.4% stake in Italian peer Indesit Co. SpA from conglomerate Fineldo SpA and the Merloni family for 758 million euros ($1.03 billion).

The stake represents 66.8% of the voting rights, given that some Indesit shares are treasury stock. Whirlpool expects to pay 11 euros per share, and to follow the purchase up with a mandatory offer to minority shareholders at the highest price it pays for the initial holding. The price is a scant 4.5% premium to Indesit's Thursday closing price.

The deal follows a long period of painful restructuring at Indesit where job cuts have involved extended discussions with the Italian state and provoked strikes. Fineldo put its Indesit stake up for review in around November, hiring Goldman, Sachs & Co. to assess options. Fineldo CEO Gian Oddone said the deal will provide Indesit "with the tools to build a solid and sustainable future."

For Whirlpool the agreement comes almost a year after the Benton Harbor, Mich., appliance maker arranged to take a 51% stake in Chinese counterpart Hefei Rongshida Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. for 3.4 billion renminbi ($547.8 million) in cash in a transaction structured as a joint venture. That deal is expected to close by the end of 2014.

"We expect this opportunity to position our European business for growth and ongoing value creation with a well-respected and established company such as Indesit," said Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Jeff M. Fettig in a statement. "We consider acquisitions based on strategic fit, shareholder value and a high degree of confidence in our ability to execute. We believe this will ideally position us for sustainable growth in the highly competitive and increasingly global home appliance market in Europe."

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