Key Points:

Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out assisting New Zealand whiteware maker Fisher & Paykel Appliances, which has announced plans to find a cornerstone investor to help dig it out of a mountain of debt.

Around $102 million was wiped off the company's value in one day yesterday as its share price plummeted from $1 to 65 cents after a market update revealed sales had fallen significantly in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances is predicting a flat profit this year and said it planned to raise money from shareholders and a potential cornerstone investor to help reduce a debt level that had shot up to 43 per cent.

Yesterday, Mr Key said he had phoned chief executive John Bongard to discuss the company's situation and while Bongard had not asked for support, Key said he would keep in touch.

"They are an iconic New Zealand company, employing 1600 people. I've made it clear I'll be staying in contact."

Key said the Government did not want to become a primary banker, but it was not ruling out the option of helping Fisher & Paykel.

"Governments around the world have taken that course and we reserve the right to do so."

Key said if the new cornerstone investor came from overseas and it was in breach of the rules, it would need to consider a number of factors.

"One of those is what would be the prognosis for the company if we failed to approve the shareholding. If that meant the loss of jobs and the collapse of an iconic company, that would be unacceptable to me."