updated 10/7/2005 9:50:41 AM ET 2005-10-07T13:50:41

The Justice Department’s antitrust arm is asking for more information about Whirlpool Corp.’s proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of rival Maytag Corp.

The companies, each among the top makers of dishwashers, refrigerators and other home appliances, said Friday they are working closing with the Justice Department, and plan to fully cooperate with and respond to the agency’s requests.

Whirlpool is the nation’s largest appliance manufacturer, while Newton, Iowa-based Maytag ranks third.

The proposed deal has raised antitrust concerns because it would give Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, close to half of the U.S. market for major appliances and as much as 70 percent of the U.S. laundry market.

Both companies have said they expect the deal to close as early as the first quarter of 2006.

Whirlpool agreed in August to buy Maytag with a cash and stock bid that topped an offer by an investor group headed by Ripplewood Holdings LLC.

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