Catering equipment giant Middleby has given its first reaction to Whirlpool’s surprise potential takeover bid for AGA Rangemaster, urging AGA shareholders to consider its rival’s “motivations of the approach”.
Middleby agreed a £129m deal to acquire the British high-end residential kitchen maker last month, but the transaction is under threat after AGA revealed it had opened its books up to Whirlpool earlier this week.
It is not yet clear whether Whirlpool will make an offer for the business, leaving investors playing a waiting game while the original Middleby offer progresses towards completion. AGA and Middleby shareholders are both set to vote on approving the deal on Tuesday September 8.
Middleby today questioned why Whirlpool has waited until the last minute to express its interest in AGA and urged AGA shareholders to be “wary” that there is no certainty that an offer from Whirlpool will be forthcoming.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Middleby said: “As AGA has stated, the making of an offer by Whirlpool is subject to a number of conditions and there is no certainty that any offer will be forthcoming or as to the terms of any offer. By contrast, Middleby’s acquisition has no regulatory or anti-trust conditions.”
It added: “Middleby encourages AGA shareholders to consider the motivations of the approach by Whirlpool, in particular why it has waited until this late stage in the process to approach AGA. Middleby urges AGA shareholders to be wary that there is no certainty Whirlpool will ultimately make any offer.”
AGA Rangemaster’s primary production facilities are in the UK although it also has operations in Michigan, USA. The group employs around 2,500 people worldwide. Rangemaster sales grew by 9% in the UK and by 6% overall last year.