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Whirlpool buys big stake in Italy's Indesit

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan--Whirlpool will pay more than US$1 billion for a controlling stake in Indesit, the appliance maker's counterpart in Italy.

The deal announced Friday will put the U.S. company in possession of shares representing 66.8 percent of Indesit's voting stock. Whirlpool, which also owns Maytag, KitchenAid and other brands, will pay US$15.06 per Indesit share.

“We believe this will ideally position us for sustainable growth in the highly competitive and increasingly global home appliance market in Europe,” Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Jeff Fettig said.

Whirlpool has been working on strengthening its presence overseas. Last year it agreed to acquire a majority stake in Chinese appliance maker Hefei Rongshida Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. for about US$552 million.

The manufacturer will be buying a 42.7 percent interest in Indesit Co. from Fineldo, an Italian engineering company, and a 17.6 percent stake from the Merloni family, which founded the company.

Whirlpool said that it plans to finance the deal with available cash and debt financing.

The stock purchase agreements are expected to close by year's end.

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