Whirlpool Swirls Into Europe With $1 Billion Acquisition

The American manufacturing giant acquires majority stock in one of Europe's leading appliance makers.

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With the acquisition of Maytag back in 2006, the Whirlpool Corporation surged ahead to become one of the largest appliance manufacturers in the world. Last year, the purchase of a majority stake in Hefei Sanyo allowed Whirlpool to gain an additional foothold in the Chinese market. And now the American company has its sights set on a European expansion.

Originally founded by industrialist Vittorio Merloni as a spin-off of his primary scale-making business, Indesit has grown into a multinational appliance manufacturer from its headquarters in Italy’s Ancona province. With additional factories in the UK, Poland, Russia, and Turkey, Indesit has maintained a leading market position in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia.

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A majority share of Indesit, a leading Italian appliance manufacturer, has been purchased by the Whirlpool Corporation. [Credit: Wikimedia Commons, "Roberta Shitta"] View Larger

Despite its supremacy in the U.S., Whirlpool is only the fourth-ranking appliance company in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This stock purchase—valued at €11 a share, or roughly 1 billion dollars—gives Whirlpool 66.8% of Indesit’s voting power, and could be a step towards further world dominance.

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After working to expand its holdings in China, Whirlpool is turning its attention to Europe. [Credit: Wikimedia Commons, "Wfords378"] View Larger

What could that mean for the U.S. market? Well, we’d love to say that Whirlpool’s acquisition of a European company might bring more stylish designs to American shores, but Indesit’s catalog reveals a bevy of charmingly compact but otherwise bog-standard machines that could easily fit into the modern—and rather bland—American design language.

We’re still hoping to get some glass fridges and retro toasters one of these days.

While some Italians are decrying the acquisition as another blow to the country’s declining manufacturing industry, we don’t think the Merloni family is going to be all that concerned. After all, according to Forbes, they’re coming out of the deal as billionaires.

Hero Credit: Wikimedia Commons, "Ngamgilani"

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