UPDATE 1-Whirlpool closing Shanghai washing machine plant

Tue Apr 7, 2009 12:34pm EDT

* Closure will eliminate 600 jobs

* Company consolidating operations in China

CHICAGO, April 7, (Reuters) - Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N) said on Tuesday it would close its washing machine manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China, eliminating 600 jobs, as the appliance maker consolidates its Chinese operations.

Washing machine production will be moved to the Hinsense-Whirlpool joint venture manufacturing plant in ZheJiang Province, where 900 new jobs will be created by the end of 2009, the company said.

The move will be beneficial because of the greater scale and size of the ZheJiang facility, which will optimize the use of resources and provide cost savings, it said.

Whirlpool has established several measures in accordance with Chinese Labor laws to provide support for employees affected by the Shanghai closure.

The company's China regional headquarters, a research and development center, and its commercial and administrative operations are unaffected by the closure and will remain in Shanghai. These operations employ about 480 people.

"This consolidation, like other changes we've made as part of our global operating strategy, are difficult but necessary, to ensure that Whirlpool Corporation maintains its leadership position in today's changing global marketplace," said Paulo F.M.O. Periquito, president of Whirlpool International.

"Whirlpool sees great potential in the Chinese market and in its consumers, and we believe these moves will enable us to speed up innovation," he said.

In April 2008, Whirlpool formed a 50/50 joint venture with Hisense Kelon for the development and production of washing machines and refrigerators. The companies have agreed to share research, technology and development capabilities.

Whirlpool shares were down $2.02, or 5.9 percent, at $32.27 in midday New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting by Bob Burgdorfer; editing by John Wallace)

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