White-goods manufacturer Qingdao Haier has begun to approach investment banks for advice on a bid for General Electric’s appliance business, the Financial Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The price tag for the unit could be as high as US$7 billion. Haier joins white-goods makers and private equity groups from countries including South Korea and Germany as potential bidders for the unit, which posted sales of US$7.2 billion last year. In 2005, Haier joined forces with private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone in an unsuccessful bid for Maytag. Since then, Chinese firms have continued to bid for US manufacturing companies, hoping to join low-cost Chinese production with US brand names and distribution channels, the paper said.