Chinese Investment

Warnings Over State Intervention in Kuka Deal

Robots Kuka car supply chain source Stone Getty Images 61493995
German politicians want to keep Kuka in European hands.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German politicians could thwart plans by Midea, a Chinese appliance maker, to acquire control of Kuka, a Bavarian maker of industrial robots.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Midea said it wanted to raise its stake in Kuka to at least 30 percent from 13.5 percent.
    • The bid, which values Kuka at €4.6 billion ($5.2 billion), would give the Chinese company effective control.
    • The German government favors a bid byA european firm to prevent technology transfers overseas, sources have said.
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    Audio

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For Michael Rogowski, it’s quite obvious. “The state should keep out of business decisions,” the former president of Germany’s top industry lobbying group, the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told Handelsblatt.

Mr. Rogowski, longtime head of Kuka-shareholder Voith, a machinery and equipment manufacturer, limits the role of the state in commercial and economic policy to “providing a sensible regulatory framework.”

All the same, Mr. Rogowski’s appeal comes at an inopportune moment for Germany’s economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, since the politician is right in the process of interfering with business decisions.

The leader of the center-left Social Democrat Party (SPD) wants to prevent the Chinese household appliance manufacturer Midea from taking command of the Augsburg-based robotics specialist Kuka.

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