Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Haier all but takes control

Chinese giant may still face difficulties in nailing down F&P.

Haier's raised offer for F&P Appliances puts it in the box seat to take over. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Haier's raised offer for F&P Appliances puts it in the box seat to take over. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Haier has all but gained control of Fisher & Paykel Appliances, but market players say the Chinese company may still face difficulties pulling off its intended full takeover of the New Zealand whiteware maker.

The Qingdao-based home goods giant - one of the world's largest appliance firms - has increased its offer price from $1.20 to $1.28 per share and secured acceptances from major shareholders ACC, AMP and Harbour Asset Management.

F&P Appliances said those three investors collectively held about 14.1 per cent of issued shares in the company.

With its own 20 per cent shareholding and the 17.5 per cent stake of Aussie fund manager Allan Gray, which it secured through a lock-up agreement last month, Haier has achieved the offer's 50 per cent minimum acceptance condition and will gain control of the East Tamaki-based firm when the offer goes unconditional.

Keith Turner, the chairman of F&P Appliances, said the company's directors and senior officers who held shares in the firm had all agreed to sell at Haier's latest offer price.

The New Zealand company's independent directors are now recommending investors accept the offer, which comes in at the bottom of the $1.28 to $1.57 per share independent valuation.

Tower Investments chief executive Sam Stubbs, whose firm manages a 3.68 per cent stake in F&P Appliances, said the fund manager was yet to decide whether it would sell at $1.28.

"The issue we have is that [the new offer] is right at the bottom end of the valuation range," Stubbs said.

Shane Solly, a portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management, said his firm was also still considering what it would do with the F&P Appliances shares it manages.

"We're happy to see the increase," said Solly. "Obviously it's in the [independent valuation] range but is it enough for everybody to accept?

"I'm not sure that it is."

Haier director Liang Haishan said the new offer represented a 71 per cent premium to F&P Appliances' pre-offer share price and provided investors with "certainty and the opportunity to realise cash from their investment now".

If Haier secures 90 per cent acceptance it will automatically snap up the remaining 10 per cent of shares and be able to de-list F&P Appliances.

Global hedge funds are understood to have bought up roughly 10 per cent of the shares in the Kiwi manufacturer during the heavy trading that has taken place since the offer's launch.

Market commentator Arthur Lim said it was likely the hedge funds would now sell into the offer at a profit, which could take Haier's shareholding in F&P Appliances beyond 60 per cent.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the new offer would be high enough for most investors to accept. But some stubborn shareholders would probably refrain from selling.

"It is an iconic company and it is a brand that people associate with New Zealand so there will be an element of, 'No, we don't want to sell to the foreign investors'."

Lister said the company's share price would fall after the offer closed and investors that remained after that point would be minority shareholders in a firm they had little influence over.

F&P Appliances shares closed at $1.265 last night.

Fresh offering

* $1.20 - Initial offer per share
* $1.28 - New offer per share.

- NZ Herald

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