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Fisher & Paykel Rebuts Report of Bid from Whirlpool
Jan 17, 2005
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Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd. CEO John Bongard said he isn't aware of any takeover bid from Whirlpool Corp., rebutting a report from New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times.

"I am personally not aware of any such news," Mr. Bongard said in a phone interview from Rangiputa, where he is on holiday. "I am sure we would know if it was imminent."

Fisher & Paykel, New Zealand's biggest home appliance maker, formed an alliance with Whirlpool in August 2003, agreeing to sell its DishDrawer dishwashers under Whirlpool's brand in the U.S. and Europe. Fisher & Paykel also agreed to sell its products in England, Scotland, and Wales through Whirlpool's U.K. unit.

The alliance with Whirlpool, one of the world's largest manufacturers of large home appliances, was expanded in November, when Fisher & Paykel said it will sell components and license its technology to the Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.-based company.

Fisher & Paykel's lack of a major shareholder makes it more vulnerable to a takeover, the Sunday Star Times said in its report.

Capital Group Cos. in December took a 7.9-percent stake in Auckland-based Fisher & Paykel, and other overseas international fund managers have also been buying the shares, possibly because they expect a bid from Whirlpool, the paper said, citing people in the market it didn't identify.

Mr. Bongard said he hopes the fund managers are buying Fisher & Paykel shares because they see long-term value. He said he isn't able to comment on Capital's motivation.

Mr. Bongard is expanding sales in the U.S., the company's fastest-growing market, as sales slow in Australia and New Zealand, where Fisher & Paykel gets 73 percent of appliance sales. On Nov. 11, he said earnings may fall 12 percent this year as steel and plastic costs remain high and sales slow in Australia and New Zealand. (Bloomberg)

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