With a rival bidder backing away from the table, Maytag Corp. embraced a buyout offer of more than $1.7 billion in cash and stock from the nation's largest appliance maker, Whirlpool Corp.
As the companies revealed Monday that they had signed a formal agreement, Whirlpool chief executive Jeff Fettig offered reassurances that the combination of Whirlpool and Maytag, the nation's third-largest appliance maker, will gain approval of federal antitrust regulators, according to the AP.
A combined Whirlpool-Maytag would capture about 48 percent of the market in major appliances in the United States, analysts have estimated. General Electric would have about 26 percent and Sweden's Electrolux AB would have about 20 percent of the US market.
Whirlpool-Maytag would control as much as 70 percent of the US laundry market, a figure that analysts said would likely generate close government scrutiny.
A statement released by both companies said regulatory approval and closing of the deal could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2006. But some observers say the Federal Trade Commission could take longer.
Under terms of the deal, Maytag will be acquired for $21 a share. Whirlpool is also assuming $977 million of Maytag debt.
Maytag shareholders, who also must approve the deal, will vote on the proposal before year-end, the company said