updated 6/21/2005 7:51:26 AM ET 2005-06-21T11:51:26

Appliance maker Maytag Corp. said it would review a $16 per share buyout offer from two private equity firms and a rival Chinese manufacturer, a month after Maytag agreed to be acquired by an investor group that wants to take the company private.

The new cash offer is $2 per share above the all-cash bid last month by an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings LLC and represents the start of a possible bidding war for the struggling Maytag.

The higher offer is from Bain Capital Partners LLC, Blackstone Capital Partners IV L.P. and Haier America Trading, L.L.C. Haier America is the the U.S.-based division of Haier Group, which is government-owned and based in Qingdao. Haier Group is China's largest appliance manufacturer, producing refrigerators, laundry machines, dishwashers and small appliances.

"We continue to support the Ripplewood transaction; however, we also believe that it is incumbent on us to pursue this possibility of achieving a higher price for our stockholders," Maytag's lead director, Howard Clark, said in a statement late Monday.

Newton-based Maytag said its review of the new offer would take six to eight weeks.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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