Kudos to Maytag (NYSE:MYG) management and shareholders. As a result of their willingness to listen to competing bids and their patience to let the price slowly climb, management ultimately extracted a 50% higher price for the sale of the company. Even those who aren't readily proficient in math will see that a 50% gain in 3 months' time is nothing to sneeze at.

The ultimate victor proved to be Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR), Maytag's larger American rival. In a deal that will total over $1.7 billion, Whirlpool is offering $21 a share to Maytag's owners -- half of it in cash, and the remainder in stock. Although Whirlpool had to raise its offer three times, it ultimately trumped the original bid from private investment group Ripplewood of $14 per share and a subsequent informal bid from a Chinese consortium led by Haier for $16 a share.

I should also pause here to give kudos to one of my readers who wrote to me after my original column and said there was no way that the company would be sold for $14 a share. He was a bit off on the final price (he predicted $25 to $30), but he definitely had the right idea.

If the deal goes through without any significant asset sales, the combined companies will command close to half of the U.S. major appliance market -- leaving General Electric (NYSE:GE) with about one-fourth, Sweden's Electrolux (NQB: ELUXY) with about 20%, and a host of others like Samsung and LG Electronics bringing up the rear.

Of course, that could prove to be a meaningful "if." The Federal Trade Commission is certainly going to take a look at this deal, and the fact that the combined company could control something like 70% of the laundry market is reason to pause. It would also seem that Whirlpool is expecting a lengthy process -- the purchase agreement doesn't expire until December of 2006.

While I'm skeptical of the need to better Ripplewood's offer by 50%, I suppose this could still be a reasonable deal for Whirlpool. The price paid is not ridiculous, and the combined company should be able to negotiate better terms with both suppliers and retailers like Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). That said, all acquisitions start with the best of intentions, but not many ever achieve all of the promised benefits.

Looking at Maytag's share price, the Street certainly has some concerns about the deal. After all, Maytag shares are trading for about $18.50, far from the $21 deal price. Arbitrage math can be a little quirky, but aggressive investors may be attracted to playing that spread if they think the market is overreacting to the anti-trust worries.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).