Fisher & Paykel Appliances say Chinese company Haier is considering making a full takeover offer.
The New Zealand whiteware company said on Monday that Haier has indicated a cash offer which is higher than its current share price.
The company was formed in 1934 and started making Kelvinator washing machines under license in Auckland in 1938. It became a public company in 1979.
Fisher & Paykel employs about 1100 staff in New Zealand - 950 at its manufacturing plant in Auckland and 150 people in Dunedin working in research and development.
In recent years it has shifted some of its manufacturing to Mexico, Thailand and Italy.
It was announced on 27 May in 2009 that Haier was to take a 20% stake. The electronics and appliance maker says it wants to do due diligence to help develop a complete proposal.
Fisher & Paykel chairman Keith Turner says three of its major investors were approached by Haier at the weekend, suggesting that an offer may be tabled soon.
The board of Fisher & Paykel Appliances says shareholders should take no action until the offer is assessed.
Shares in Fisher & Paykel Appliances price rose 22 cents to close at 97c on Monday. Its stock was at a 2½ year low of 36c per share earlier in the year, due to plunging profits and lacklustre sales.
Fisher & Paykel Appliances had previously reported a full-year loss of $95.3 million, due to lower demand for whiteware and the cost of moving manufacturing overseas.