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Maytag To Be Acquired By Investment Group

5/20/2005 11:31:00 AM Eastern

Newton, Iowa – Maytag has agreed to be acquired by a private investor group in a cash deal valued at $2.1 billion.

The buyout, which is expected to close later this year, pending shareholder and regulatory approval, was given the green light by Maytag’s board of directors.

“We have concluded that this transaction is in the best interest of our shareholders,” said long-time board member Lester Crown. The deal, he added, “will also provide Maytag with greater flexibility as a private company to accomplish long-term goals.”

Friday morning’s surprise announcement resolves a question that has long been rippling throughout the major appliance business: What will become of Maytag?

The one-time industry leader and iconic white goods maker has lately fallen on hard times, due principally to its over-concentration of production in the United States. The result has been tumbling sale and earnings, as lower-cost competitors with greater offshore production, including a new wave of Asian majap contenders, have squeezed Maytag’s domestic market share.

Compounding the problem is the company’s Hoover floor care unit, whose premium positioning has fizzled in the current commodity-driven, under-$100 home vacuum market.

The acquisition group is led by Ripplewood Holdings, a private equity firm with extensive operating expertise in Asia and Europe, and includes RHJ International, GS Capital Partners and the J. Rothschild Group of Companies. “Maytag is a legendary company with a portfolio of world-class brands and a long history of producing high-quality, innovative products,” said Ripplewood founder and CEO Timothy Collins. “We see an opportunity to leverage these strengths and build Maytag into a global leader as the fragmented home and commercial appliances industry consolidates.”

Collins said the new owners’ objectives are “to continue to take action to become a global low-cost producer and to accelerate growth by introducing innovative new products, expanding its presence in international markets and pursuing selective acquisitions.”

Collins added, “We very much look forward to working with [CEO] Ralph Hake and his management team, employees, customers and retail partners to restore the luster that this well-known consumer and home appliance company enjoyed for so many decades.”

Maytag said its board of directors will recommend that shareholders adopt the proposed $14 per share cash merger.

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