27 May 2009

Job concerns as F and P sells shares to Chinese firm

8:16 pm on 27 May 2009

New Zealand whiteware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel says it cannot rule out future job losses, following the announcement a Chinese company is to take a 20% shareholding.

The debt-ridden company plans to raise at least $189 million to bolster its balance sheet.

Chinese company Haier, which makes appliances and electronics, is expected to pay between $80 million and $82 million for its stake.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union represents more than 400 workers and says Fisher & Paykel should commit to keeping jobs in New Zealand.

Fisher & Paykel chief executive John Bongard says the alliance should not directly threaten New Zealand jobs, but they are not safeguarded and cuts cannot be ruled out.

Mr Bongard says from a factory perspective, nothing has changed as a result of the shares changing hands.

He says there are advantages to having factories in New Zealand, including the ability to create produce unique products, and the partnership with Haier will involve collaboration on research and development.

F&P Appliances posts $95m loss

Fisher & Paykel Appliances on Wednesday reported a full-year loss of $95.3 million.

The loss is being blamed on lower demand for whiteware and the cost of shifting manufacturing to Mexico, Thailand and Italy.

The global recession has slashed demand for fridges, washing machines and dishwashers, with overall sales falling 2% to $1.4 billion.