DES MOINES, Iowa - Whirlpool Corp. on Wednesday raised its bid for Maytag Corp. for the third time, offering $1.79 billion in cash and stock for its rival appliance maker.
The $21-per-share offer is a $1-per-share premium to the sweetened bid of $1.62 billion Whirlpool offered Monday.
The proposal also includes assumed debt of about $977 million.
The latest offer continues to consist of 50 percent cash and 50 percent Whirlpool stock, plus a $120 million "reverse breakup" fee, which would be paid to Maytag if regulators do not approve the combination.
Whirlpool's offer represents a 50 percent premium to the initial bid of $14 per share, or about $1.13 billion, that Maytag received from investment group Triton Acquisition Holding Co. Maytag's board accepted that all-cash offer May 19, and shareholders are scheduled to vote on it Aug. 19.
Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool, the nation's leading appliance manufacturer, has taken an aggressive approach to acquiring its third-place rival, Maytag.
Maytag's vending machine company, Dixie-Narco, is based in Williston, S.C., and employs several hundred people.
Maytag spokesman John Daggett confirmed that the Newton, Iowa-based company received the proposal but declined to comment further.
Industry analyst Laura Champine, of Morgan Keegan & Co., said the Whirlpool offer comes as the Triton group is preparing to increase its offer. Although the offer is expected to be lower than Whirlpool's, Triton is likely trying to make the case that the Whirlpool-Maytag deal would not gain regulatory approval.
She said Maytag has 48 hours to deem the Whirlpool offer superior and likely to obtain approval. Triton would have five days after that to increase its offer.
Triton spokesman Jeffrey Taufield declined to comment.
The Maytag board could decide to let shareholders vote on the Triton offer next week and proceed with the Whirlpool deal if shareholders vote Triton down.
Ms. Champine said shareholders are likely to decline the Triton offer with Whirlpool's better deal still on the table.
"If I were to try to handicap the outcome of the situation, my guess is that Whirlpool is successful in its efforts to acquire Maytag," she said.
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