Whirlpool Invests in Italian Washing Machine Plant, Enters Credit Agreements
Dec 7, 2005
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Appliance maker Whirlpool Corporation announced it is investing 77 million euros (approx. U.S. $90.2 million) in its washing machine facility in Naples, Italy as part of its "Genesis" project that focuses on enhancing productivity.

According to AGI Online, Whirlpool said the Progetto Genesis plan, developed with Italy, Campania's regional assembly and the Industry Ministry, will not bring about technical-industrial variations, but will include changes in the plant's logistic system, cooperation levels, and interactions with suppliers, to optimize and institute a supplier's consortium, directly run and coordinated by the company.

"The idea came about following the need to enhance productive processes, both within and outside the Naples factory, to boost our competitiveness," said Che Naraine, Whirpool Europe operations and technology deputy president. "I am also proud to say this project will have a significant social impact on the territory, allowing to reclaim de-industrialized area."

Out of the total investment, Whirlpool will allocate 20 million euros (approx. $23.4 million), which will be added to the 37 million (approx. $43.3 million) allocated by the region's Industry Ministry and Campania Regional Assembly, to the consortium. Whirlpool says it plans to hire 240 employees, totaling 1,000 workers, and that the investment includes 14 productive and logistic operations, and two advanced research laboratories that cooperate with the engineering facilities of Universities Federico II and Parthenope.

"We wanted to invest on Naples' productivity because a large share of overall production in Italy, about 60 percent of European turnover, comes from here," said Roberto Coato, deputy president of Whirlpool Europe Washing. "Italy is surely one of the most important countries for our company, and we're sure that the benefits proceeding from technical and logistic innovation will alllow us to grow on the European market."

Construction is set to begin in January 2006, with the plant set to begin production by Januray 2008.

In other news, Whirlpool has entered into an amended and restated U.S. $2.2 billion, 5-year revolving credit agreement, with $1.2 billion immediately available and $1.0 billion available upon final clearance of the Maytag Corporation acquisition by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Whirlpool also has entered into a new $500 million, 364-day revolving credit agreement with a 1-year term-out option, which will be available upon final clearance of the Maytag acquisition by the Antitrust Division. The credit facilities replace the existing $1.2 billion revolving credit agreement.

"These agreements put into place the financing arrangements necessary for us to complete the acquisition of Maytag," said Roy Templin, executive vice president and CFO. "The credit agreements provide us with substantial flexibility."

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