According to foreign media, after GE announced that it might sell its home appliance business, Zhang Ruimin, CEO of Chinese home appliance manufacturer Haier, immediately responded in the hope of grasping this last opportunity of acquiring an American household brand.

Zhang is said to have told his close friend that this might be Haier's last and best chance to get into the U.S. market and has convened senior employees of the company for an internal evaluation of GE's home appliance asset.

"Strategically, GE's home appliance business is a very attractive asset for Haier," said a Hong Kong-based investment banker who requested anonymity. "But there are questions over whether this deal would be too big and too soon for the company." The banker said that South Korea's LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics are also looking at GE Appliance, though their level of desire is unclear. He said an auction is likely to begin in about a month.

But the question for Haier is how to get the money for the deal? The company may want to resort to a private equity fund for help, but due to credit crisis, private equity funds may face a shortage of cash. Haier seems unwilling to ask for help from Chinese government or government backed investment organizations, for this may draw attention from the U.S. government and lead the deal to a failure just like Huawei's acquisition of 3Com.

Actually, this is not Haier's maiden voyage in the United States. In 2006, Haier led a consortium consisted of Blackstone and Bain Capital to bid for U.S. home appliance giant Maytag, but it later failed to win the US$1 billion deal.


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