Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Little guy controls F&P's fate

Retail shareholders have power to keep F&P Appliances local.

Retail shareholders have the power to block China's Haier from pulling off its full takeover bid for Fisher & Paykel Appliances. File photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Retail shareholders have the power to block China's Haier from pulling off its full takeover bid for Fisher & Paykel Appliances. File photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Retail shareholders have the power to block China's Haier from pulling off its full takeover bid for Fisher & Paykel Appliances, which would allow the New Zealand whiteware maker to remain listed on the NZX.

The East Tamaki-based company says about 30 per cent of its roughly 12,800 shareholders are retail - non-institutional - investors.

Shareholders Association corporate liaison Des Hunt said retail shareholders could block the takeover, especially if the independent report due next month found Haier's proposed offer of $1.20 per share, which values the firm at $870 million, was too low.

"Now the company seems to be putting itself back on to a path of growth, [retail shareholders] will be a little bit more careful in their final judgment," Hunt said.

Haier, which owns 20 per cent of F&P Appliances, has already tied Allan Gray Australia into a lock-up deal to sell its 17.46 per cent holding, giving the Qingdao-based company a 37.46 per cent interest in the Kiwi firm.

The proposed offer is conditional on Haier gaining more than 50 per cent acceptance and director Liang Haishan last week said the firm would be happy if it secured a 70 or 80 per cent shareholding, in which case the company would remain NZX-listed.

If Haier gains more than 90 per cent acceptance its full takeover will be successful and the company will de-list, leaving a big hole in the local sharemarket.

John Sexton, of Papakura, said he had no plans to sell his F&P Appliances shares. "I'll be one of the last ones to sell."

Sexton said Haier's proposed offer undervalued the firm and he backed comments from Tower's Sam Stubbs, who said last week that the lower end of the Chinese firm's offer should be at least $1.50 per share.

The 69-year-old, whose son is a former F&P Appliances engineer, said the company had painted a rosy picture of itself at its annual meeting last month. "There is no need to sell out a company that's in such a strong financial position, or were we grossly misled at the AGM?"

Sexton said the company's "present attitude" to the takeover bid gave him no confidence that F&P Appliances' board would extract as much value out of Haier, for shareholders, as possible.

The board says it supports the proposed offer, provided a number of conditions are met, including it being within or above the valuation range in the independent report.

F&P Appliances chairman Keith Turner said shareholders could be totally confident that the board was working to get the best possible outcome for shareholders. "The board has done a great deal already to maximise any proposed offer," he said.


Peter Wilkins, another F&P Appliances shareholder, is also in no hurry to sell.

"I think I will probably sit on the sidelines for quite a while until I see how things unfold," he said.

"I think the market is starting to realise there is value in F&P and whether this takeover succeeds or not the [share] price should hold."

F&P Appliances' shares closed up 1.5c yesterday at $1.19.

- NZ Herald

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