Electrolux AB agreed to buy General Electric Co.’s century-old appliances unit for $3.3 billion in cash, putting the Swedish company on a par with industry leader Whirlpool Corp. of the U.S.
The purchase, Electrolux’s biggest, brings together brands such as Hotpoint, Frigidaire and Zanussi, and creates a company with annual revenue of about $22.5 billion. Acquiring the predominantly U.S. business will add to earnings from the first year, Stockholm-based Electrolux said today, sending its shares soaring to the highest since at least 1989.
Electrolux and Whirlpool will dominate the North American appliance market, according to Johan Eliason, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux. Each company will control about 40 percent of the industry in the region, he said in a note. For GE, the sale helps meet a long-held ambition to focus on more-profitable industrial units such as aviation and oil and gas.
The deal makes Electrolux “a major player that can take advantage of synergies,” David Jacobsson Cederberg, an analyst at Pareto Securities, said by phone. The Swedish company forecast annual cost benefits of about $300 million.
Electrolux shares rose as much as 9.3 percent to 205 kronor and traded at 198.5 kronor at 1:33 p.m. in Stockholm. Acquisition multiples of 0.58 times sales and 8.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization are “attractive,” Eliason at Kepler Cheuvreux wrote.
GE traded at $26.06 as of that time in Frankfurt, little changed from its last closing price in New York of $26.10.
The purchase by Electrolux comes only two months after Whirlpool increased its market leadership by acquiring a controlling stake in Italian appliance maker Indesit Co. for 758 million euros ($981 million). Together, Whirlpool and Indesit had annual revenue of $22.3 billion last year.
For Electrolux, the deal is the first since 2011, when it acquired Compania Tecno Industrial SA for about $690 million to become the largest appliance supplier in Chile and Argentina.
In addition to enhancing Electrolux’s presence in North America, where the GE unit generates more than 90 percent of revenue, the acquisition will give the Swedish company a 48.4 percent stake in Mexican appliance company Mabe.
Electrolux said the deal is subject to regulatory approval. Given the significant boost to the company’s U.S. market position, that isn’t a given, according to Swedbank analysts.
“We do not fully neglect the risk of a declined approval,” the analysts wrote in a note.
The GE unit, which employs about 12,000 people, had sales of $5.7 billion last year, or 4 percent of GE’s total revenue, according to the company. About half of the employees work at the 900-acre headquarters campus, known as Appliance Park.
Electrolux, which has its North American headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, generated sales of 31.9 billion kronor ($4.5 billion) across the continent last year, almost 30 percent of its global revenue. The company said in July that it expects U.S. sales to grow 4 percent this year.
Electrolux said it will continue using the GE Appliances brand under a 40-year agreement.
The appliances unit helped make GE a household name with American consumers after introducing its first toaster in 1905. The sale, which follows an unsuccessful attempt to divest the business in 2008, furthers GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s effort to reshape the company around its high-margin industrial units.
Immelt has been pruning divisions since the 2008-09 credit crunch, when the finance arm threatened to drag down the parent company. He sold real estate holdings and stakes in foreign banks and exited NBCUniversal. The company conducted an initial public offering in July of GE Capital’s North American consumer- lending unit as part of a plan to eventually split off the rest of those operations.
The deal will generate an after-tax gain of 5 to 7 cents per share at closing, according to GE, which has invested $1 billion in the Louisville, Kentucky-based appliances division since the global financial crisis.
Electrolux said it plans a rights offering to fund about 25 percent of the purchase. The rest will be financed by a bridge facility arranged by Deutsche Bank AG and SEB AB, which will gradually be replaced by capital market and bank financing.
Electrolux and Quirky Inc., a New York-based startup specializing in crowd-sourced product development, emerged as potential purchasers for the GE unit last month, when Bloomberg News reported that talks were under way with GE. While GE later said it was negotiating with “Electrolux and other interested parties,” Quirky never confirmed its involvement.
Quirky, which had been considering a bid in partnership with private-equity investors, dropped out of the talks late last month, a person familiar with the matter has said.