Maytag Agrees to Be Bought for $1.13B

Appliance maker Maytag Corp. (MYG) has agreed to be bought by an investor group led by private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC for $1.13 billion cash.

The deal announced Thursday evening values the company — which has struggled against low-cost foreign competitors in recent years — at $14 per share, and includes the assumption of about $975 million in debt. Maytag (search) will no longer be a public company after the deal closes.

Shares of the 112-year-old company soared more than 21 percent, or $2.44, in late trading on news of the acquisition, after closing 9 cents higher at $11.56 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

The board of Newton, Iowa-based Maytag approved the transaction and plans to recommend it to company shareholders. The sale is expected to close before year's end, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

"Maytag is a legendary company, with a portfolio of world-class brands and a long history of producing high-quality, innovative products," Ripplewood CEO and founder Timothy C. Collins (search) said in a statement. "We see an opportunity to leverage these strengths and build Maytag into a global leader as the fragmented home and commercial appliances industry consolidates."

Maytag produces home and kitchen appliances under the Maytag, Amana, Hoover, Jenn-Air and Magic Chef brand names.

Besides New York-based Ripplewood (search), the other firms in the acquisition are RHJ International, GS Capital Partners and the J. Rothschild Group of Companies.

Maytag CEO Ralph Hake said Ripplewood offers strong financial support and brings operating expertise in global markets including Asia and Europe.

Maytag, founded in Newton in 1893, employs about 18,000 and has manufacturing plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The company launched a restructuring plan last year that cut 1,100 salaried workers and will save the company about $120 million, Hake said in a recent conference call with industry analysts. The company saved another $23 million by closing a refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Ill.

Even so, Maytag shares tumbled 27 percent last month after the company announced first-quarter profits that were half what analysts expected and slashed its yearly forecast by 50 percent.

The company is evaluating whether to keep production at Newton and North Canton, Ohio, where Hake said costs are the highest.

Analyst David MacGregor with Longbow Research in Cleveland predicts the investment groups will need at least five years to accomplish their goals.

"This is a very ambitious plan," he said. "The buyers appear to be trying to use Maytag as a platform upon which to build a global enterprise."