Stake of more than 10 per cent would keep Fisher & Paykel Appliances publicly listed

German appliance giant Bosch is understood to be taking a serious look at buying either a blocking stake or potentially making a rival bid for Fisher & Paykel Appliances against the offer from China's Haier, according to a senior market source.

The source said all of Haier's competitors would be looking closely at the proposed deal and suggested it would not take much money to derail a full takeover.

A blocking stake would need to be more than 10 per cent. Takeover companies need to receive acceptances from shareholders for at least 90 per cent of a company's shares to compulsorily acquire the remainder of the business.

A blocking stake would stop Qingdao-based Haier from gaining full control of the company's intellectual property and allow F&P Appliances to remain public, which would keep certain information in the public arena, the source said.


Another source close to the matter said there were other firms looking at "bits of" F&P Appliances.

"Whether they're looking at the whole lot we don't know."

Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances did not return calls yesterday.

F&P Appliances says it supports Haier's $1.20 offer for all the shares in the company it does not already own, but one of the conditions of that support is that there is "no superior offer".

Market commentator Arthur Lim said he would be surprised if another bidder emerged.

Haier already owns 20 per cent of F&P Appliances and has locked in a sale agreement from Allan Gray Australia, the Kiwi firm's second biggest shareholder, giving it an interest of 37.46 per cent in the New Zealand whiteware maker.

Haier would be in "pole position" if there were a rival bid, Lim said.

But he said Haier - already one of the world's biggest whiteware makers - would become an even more formidable force if it owned 100 per cent of the New Zealand company, which would "certainly be of concern to some other white goods competitors our there".

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said it was possible that another company could buy a blocking stake.

"It wouldn't be unheard of for that to happen and I'm sure other parties in that industry will be watching [Haier's takeover bid]," Lister said.

He said it was the duty of F&P Appliances' board to entertain any other bids.

"Once the company is in play, like it [F&P Appliances] is, it's their job to get the best deal for shareholders."

Lister said Haier's $1.20 proposed offer was a good price, but its chances of success hinged on the independent adviser's valuation.

"If that [valuation] comes out above $1.20 then [Haier] won't get support from the investment community or the independent directors," he said.

The independent adviser's report is not expected to be made available until next month.

Haier will also have to gain approval under the Overseas Investment Act if the acquisition is to go ahead.

F&P Appliances shares closed up 12.5c at $1.16 last night.

Haier would keep Auckland plant

Haier says it does not intend to close Fisher & Paykel Appliances' New Zealand manufacturing facilities should its proposed takeover bid for the company prove successful.

The East Tamaki-based whiteware maker employs 1100 staff in this country, most of them in Auckland.

Speaking through an interpreter, Haier director Liang Haishan said the company intended to support the development of F&P Appliances, resulting in "increased opportunities" for the firm's Kiwi staff.

He said that if the takeover was successful the company intended to invest in F&P Appliances' research & development capabilities, creating a New Zealand-based "centre of excellence".

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Bill Newson said it would be great if Haier kept its promises, "but we are concerned about the potential for job losses".

Liang said Haier, which is proposing a full takeover, would still be happy if it ends up with 70 or 80 per cent. In that case the company would remain listed on the NZX.