By Claire Reilly

After almost 80 years under New Zealand control, Fisher & Paykel is set to become a Chinese-owned company, with whitegoods manufacturer Haier today increasing its offer price for F&P stock and securing the support of major shareholders.

After offering an initial price of $1.20 per share – which was rejected by F&P as below the an independent valuation range of between $1.28 and $1.57 per share – Haier has increased its offer to $1.28 per share. This has led Fisher & Paykel’s independent board to recommend that shareholders accept the offer.

Haier has also confirmed that major shareholders Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), AMP Capital Investors and Harbour Asset Management will accept the offer. The total stake held by these three companies in F&P 14.1 per cent. Haier has said it “anticipates receiving acceptances from these institutions shortly”.

With Haier’s own 20 per cent stake in the company and the secured sale of Allan Gray Australia’s 17.5 per cent holding, Haier will own more than 50 per cent of F&P’s stock – satisfying one of the conditions of acceptance on its takeover bid.

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The chairman of Haier New Zealand Investment Holding Company Ltd and president of Haier White Goods Group, Liang Haishan, said the $1.28 price represented a 71 per cent premium to the pre-offer share price of F&P shares.

“While we differ with the valuation provided by the Independent Adviser, we are pleased to indicate our intention to provide an increased offer price to within the valuation range,” said Haishan. “We feel this allows our offer to move forward on a positive basis.

“[The new price] will provide shareholders with both certainty and the opportunity to realise cash from their investment now, which is very attractive in today’s economic environment.”

Official confirmation is yet to come through from Allan Gray Australia and the three other major shareholders regarding their take up of the new price, and the offer is still subject to regulatory approval, but garnering the official endorsement of F&P’s board is a significant step towards the final realisation of this takeover offer.

The offer remains open until 6 November 2012 unless extended.