News in brief

A consortium led by US buyout firm Ripplewood and its former subsidiary, the listed Belgium-based RHJ International, agreed to a take-over of Maytag, the manufacturer of brand name household appliances. The aggregate transaction value, including the assumption of about US$975m of Maytag debt, is approximately US$2.1bn.

Following the closing of the cash merger for US$14 per share, the investor group will own 100% of Maytag.

RHJ International has committed to provide up to US$160m of equity financing to finance the acquisition. RHJ International will finance its capital commitment from cash on hand. Ripplewood Holdings LLC, GS Capital Partners and the J Rothschild Group of Companies will provide the remaining equity financing.

Maytag Corporation, founded in 1883 and based in the US, is a leading manufacturer of brand name washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and oven ranges. Its principal brands include Maytag, Hoover, Jenn-Air, Amana, Dixie-Narco and Jade. The company’s net sales in 2004 were US$4.8bn.

  • Boots, the UK-listed High Street chemist and retailer, will issue the information memorandum on the sale of its £1bn (US$1.84bn) Healthcare International division in July, the company said in reporting its preliminary results.

Boots hired Goldman Sachs to carry out the auction of its consumer healthcare arm, which makes the Strepsils throat lozenges and Clearasil skin care products, at the start of April.

Trade buyers such as Pfizer are expected to have the upper hand in the battle, although private equity firms including Cinven, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Apax, Permira and CVC Capital Partners have reportedly expressed interest.

Boots’ results for the year to March 31 showed that Healthcare International saw growth slow to 3.6% from 9.6% the year before as sales climbed to £522.7m from £504.6m. Operating margin was 16.8%, up from 16% the year before.

The relative success of the Healthcare International division came as the main group entered a price war to protect sales. Group profit before tax was down 11.4% to £481m as sales inched up 2.7% to £5.47bn.

  • ISS, the Danish facilities manager, as well as a consortium involving private equity investor JP Morgan Partners, have been touted as possible bidders for PHS Group plc, a UK provider of workplace facilities services such as washroom cleaning and water dispensers.

PHS confirmed yesterday that it had received a takeover approach, pushing up its share price almost 12% by the end of the day to give a market capitalisation to £497m.