China's Haier to take complete control of NZ's F&P Appliances

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - China's Haier Group was poised to take complete control of Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd FPA.NZ after it acquired more than 90 percent of New Zealand's top white-goods maker, the companies said on Tuesday.

Having snapped up 92.8 percent of F&P Appliances, Haier will buy out the remaining minority shareholders to complete the NZ$927 million ($766 million) takeover. Once it acquires the shares, one of New Zealand’s most recognized brands will be delisted from the domestic stock exchange.

Haier is paying NZ$1.28 a share for F&P Appliances, having sweeted its initial offer of NZ$1.20 last month.

The move marks the second major takeover in as many years for the parent of Qindao Haier Co Ltd 600690.SS, China's No. 2 appliance maker by sales, as it is looks overseas for new revenue sources in the face of sluggish demand and increased competition at home.

Last year, Haier bought Panasonic Corp's 6752.T Sanyo Electric washing machine and refrigerator units in Japan and Southeast Asia for $130 million.

The latest acquisition will give the Chinese company the development expertise behind F&P Appliances’ multitemperature refrigerators and double-drawer dishwashers.

Some analysts said it would take time for the takeover to bear fruit for Haier, given the limited size of F&P Appliances’ sales networks. Roughly 75 percent of its production is sold in Australia and New Zealand.

“From the listed companies’ point of view, even though they can sell their products (in New Zealand) through Fisher’s sales network, Fisher’s market may not represent a big market for the listed subsidiaries,” said Steve Chow, analyst at Kingsway Research in Hong Kong.

But he said F&P Appliances could benefit from access to the Chinese market, where demand for white goods is seen growing in the longer term.

“The mainland market may represent a huge one for Fisher,” he said.

Shares of Qingdao Haier edged down 0.4 percent in Shanghai, while Hong Kong-listed unit Haier Electronics Group Co Ltd 1169.HK fell nearly 2 percent. F&P Appliances shares were unchanged at NZ$1.275.

Haier has said it would keep F&P Appliances’ corporate headquarters in New Zealand, while maintaining its New Zealand, Australian and U.S. brands and businesses and its New Zealand machinery operations.

Analysts said Haier’s pledge to keep F&P Appliances’ product development operations in New Zealand was key to maintaining its newly acquired design and technological edge.

“The key reason that Haier is buying is the technical know-how that F&P has,” said Andrew Harvey-Green, research director at Forsyth Barr.

“On that basis I would think that they would be keen to keep as much of the development team in tact in New Zealand.”

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Additional reporting by Donny Kwok in Hong Kong; Editing by Chris Gallagher