(Adds quotes, market price)
* Haier lifted offer to NZ$1.28, bottom of adviser range
* Investment funds accept offer, giving Haier control
* Sweetened offer values company at $760 milllion
* Deal beefs up Haier technology, reduces reliance on China
By Naomi Tajitsu
WELLINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Chinese appliance maker Haier said on Thursday it would be taking a majority stake in New Zealand’s Fisher and Paykel Appliances Ltd after some institutional investors accepted a sweetened offer.
Haier, which already owns 20 percent of the New Zealand laundry and kitchen appliance maker, raised its offer by 6.7 percent to NZ$1.28 a share, a price which values the company at around NZ$927 million ($760 million).
The move is set to beef up Haier’s technology and reduce its reliance on a slowing China economy, although it was not immediately clear how large the company’s majority stake would be. Haier is the parent of Haier Electronics Group Co Ltd and Qingdao Haier Co Ltd.
F&P Appliances recommended that shareholders accept the new offer as fair value although it was at the bottom end of an independent valuation that the company was worth between NZ$1.28 to NZ$1.57.
Analysts said Haier had wrangled a good deal.
“There was no way Haier was going to get NZ$1.20,” said Dennis Lee, equities analyst at Craigs Investment Partners.
“The $1.28 offer is at the bottom end of the valuation range so that’s a good compromise.”
Lian Haishan, president of Haier White Goods, said the acceptance of the new offer by some institutional investors showed the firm was paying a fair price, as it is a 71 percent premium on the share price before the original offer.
“(The new offer) will provide shareholders with both certainty and the opportunity to realise cash from their investment now, which is very attractive in today’s economic environment.”
Shares in F&P Appliances rose to a four-year high of NZ$1.270 from NZ$1.235 after a trading halt was lifted following the announcement.
The appliance company’s second biggest shareholder, Australian fund manager Allan Gray, which owns 17.5 percent, has already agreed to accept Haier’s offer.
Local fund manager Tower Asset Management has said it will not sell its 3.68 percent stake for less than NZ$1.50 a share.
In addition to producing refrigerators, washing machines and double-door dishwashers, F&P also manufactures automated production equipment, and has a consumer finance arm.
It has restructured over the past two years, cutting costs by shifting most of its production to Mexico and Thailand.
$1=NZ$1.22 Additional reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Edwina Gibbs