Maytag’s board of directors has agreed to a rival’s bid to buy the Newton-based appliance maker. Maytag and Whirlpool issued a joint statement today (Monday), saying Whirlpool would acquire Maytag if shareholders and regulators approve. The deal is valued at $2.7 billion. Maytag stockholders are to be paid $21-a-share. Part of that pay-out will be in cash; the rest will come in the form of stock in Whirlpool. Whirlpool has also agreed to pay $40-million to Ripplewood, a holding company that also bid for Maytag in May but refused this month to increase its bid to match or eclipse Whirlpool’s offer. Maytag shareholders will vote on the transaction before the end of the year. Whirlpool expects to get federal regulators’ approval sometime next year. U-A-W Local 9-9-7 president Ted Johnson says the union hopes Whirlpool will keep the Newton manufacturing plant open. “Keep people working and help preserve not only our jobs but our community,” Johnson says. “It’s all tied together and it’s all suffering right now.” Three-hundred-50 production workers at the Maytag plant in Newton are off this week for what the company calls “inventory adjustment.” Iowa’s chief executive talked earlier today (Monday) with Whirlpool’s chief executive. “I have been on the phone and have talked to the CEO of Whirlpool to reassure him that we as a state want to work with Whirlpool, if they end up ultimately completing and consumating this transaction, we want to work with them to do what we can to preserve the jobs that are so important to the Newton area and to the state of Iowa,” Governor Tom Vilsack says. Vilsack says Whirlpool’s CEO said he get back in touch after all the details of the transaction get worked out and approved. “We will continue to monitor this and we’ll also have discussions with labor to ensure that they are aware of the fact that the state’s willing to assist, as we have in other circumstances, to retain and preserve these good-paying jobs,” Vilsack says. Vilsack describes his conversation with Whirlpool’s C-E-O as “open and honest.” Vilsack doesn’t think Whirlpool has made “specific decisions” about the future of the production plant in Newton. “As I’ve said before, the marketplace does not have a heart…the decisions are made based on the bottomline,” Vilsack says. “We just have to be competitive and I think we have to stress productivity and a willingness to work with the company to try to keep these jobs where they will be most productive for the company and obviously most productive for the families of these workers.” Vilsack had earlier expressed reservations about Whirlpool’s take-over bid because the merged company would become the undisputed giant of the appliance industry. Some industry experts predict Whirlpool will sell off some Maytag assets to reduce regulatory concerns, something Vilsack seems to expect as well. “I sincerely hope that whatever anti-trust questions that will arise can be resolved quickly so there can be some predictability and stability in connection with Whirlpool’s purchase of Maytag,” Vilsack says.
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