Whirlpool to sell 24% stake in India business to reduce debt

(Reuters) -Whirlpool will sell up to 24% of its stake in the company’s India business in a bid to reduce debt, weeks after the unit reported weaker profit due to rising competition and pricing pressures.

The company did not disclose a deal value and does not expect the sale of Whirlpool of India to impact its previously issued full-year forecast, Whirlpool said in a filing on Thursday.

The Indian unit in November reported a 23.7% drop in second-quarter profit, the fifth quarterly decline in a row, hurt by weak demand and price reductions to stay competitive.

Nirmal Bang analysts had flagged in a note early this month that its channel checks revealed high conversion of customers from Whirlpool of India to rival LG due to more product options and better features at competitive prices.

“The company continues to see India as a significant marketplace for growth and an integral part of the company’s growth strategy,” Whirlpool said.

It added that the company remains committed to expanding its India business with new product launches and the recently acquired Elica India business.

Michigan-based Whirlpool currently maintains a 75% ownership interest in the Indian company through a wholly-owned unit, and will retain a majority interest after the sale.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka and in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)