United States white goods manufacturer Whirlpool has bought out its mainland partner, Shanghai Narcissus Electric Appliances, in their unprofitable washing machine joint venture. Whirlpool said it had agreed to buy the remaining 20 per cent of Whirlpool Narcissus (Shanghai) for US$9 million, giving it total ownership of the venture. Shanghai Narcissus executives reportedly blamed the venture's losses for causing it to become the first company to be delisted from a mainland exchange in April last year. New York Stock Exchange-listed Whirlpool and Shanghai Narcissus set up the venture in 1995. Shanghai Narcissus was delisted after recording four consecutive years of net losses between 1996 and 2000. 'The unsuccessful performance of Narcissus is largely due to the unsuccessful joint venture with Whirlpool,' FinanceAsia quoted Shi Zhengming, Shanghai Narcissus vice-director of the board, as saying in an article published in April last year. An official from Shanghai Narcissus' general office declined to comment yesterday. The China Securities Times reported that Whirlpool Narcissus' losses totalled more than 50 million yuan (about HK$46.86 million) after Shanghai Narcissus cut its stake in the venture from the original 45 per cent to 20 per cent in 1997 by selling back shares to Whirlpool. Mercer Management Consulting vice-president Larry Alberts said: 'They're in an incredibly difficult market. The white goods business in China, and the consumer appliances and consumer electronics sectors, are just fiercely competitive.' Whirlpool China general manager Frank Starn yesterday declined to comment on why the company would want an unprofitable washing machine plant. In a company statement, he said: 'It is evidence of Whirlpool's confidence in growing our washer business and the long-term commitment of Whirlpool to the China market.' Whirlpool's China strategy was to focus on the washing machine, refrigerator and microwave oven sectors, the statement said. It had already bought out its mainland partner in the Guangdong-based microwave manufacturing plant. In 1994-95, the company set up four joint ventures in China, including Whirlpool Narcissus and Whirlpool SMC Microwave (Shunde) Products. But it closed down the refrigerator and air-conditioner plants in 1997.