Velenje, 13 May (STA) - Household appliances maker Gorenje is planning to acquire Swedish rival Asko, business daily Finance reported on Thursday. The Slovenian firm would neither confirm nor deny the report, but Asko said it was indeed in talks with Gorenje.
Gorenje board member Mirjana Dimc Perko confirmed for Finance that the company was looking to acquire a "maker of high-end laundry appliances", but the company would not comment on any details for the STA. Asko, however, confirmed for Finance that it was in takeover talks with Gorenje. "We are indeed in the middle of talks, but I cannot say more," the paper quotes Asko spokesperson Lotta Walngdahl as saying.
Asko is part of the bankrupt Italian group Antonio Merloni, which has been up for sale since mid-2009. According to Finance, the company has 900 employees and exports 80% of its production. The news comes just weeks after Gorenje announced a capital rising in a bid to secure money for acquisitions.
The proposal for a EUR 9.4m capital increase provided by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and EUR 6.3m from existing shareholders will be put to shareholders at the 28 May annual general meeting. The purchase of Asko would be the third major foreign acquisition for Gorenje, which bought Czech rival Mora Moravia in 2004 and Dutch appliance maker Atag in late 2008.
Gorenje posted a net profit of EUR 517,000 for the first quarter of 2010, up from a loss of EUR 14.7m a year ago. Sales were up 1.5% to EUR 291m.