Axel Schweitzer had just stepped off the plane from Hong Kong, his second home, before sitting down with us for this interview. He is the co-chief executive of Berlin waste-management company Alba, which he runs jointly with his brother Eric Schweitzer, who is also president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK).
We spot the breathing mask in his luggage, which he uses to cope with the smog in China. Axel Schweitzer also brought along another surprise.
Handelsblatt: Mr. Schweitzer, ten months ago you announced that you intended to sell a minority share in your family-owned company to an investor. What became of that?
Mr. Schweitzer: Our talks with Asian investors are pretty far along. But we have learned that it makes sense not to choose only one partner for the Alba Group.
So now you are seeking multiple investors?
That’s right. We have decided to choose an Asian partner for our business in China and a domestic partner for our second major growth business, the service business in Europe.
Does that mean that you are already negotiating with German investors?
No, the process for the service company will only begin in the next few months.
This sounds as if the Asians, with whom you have been in negotiations for a few months, are only interested in the China business.
The main objective in China is to dispose of waste and recycle it. In Europe, however, we are much further along. Here we want an investor to support us with our Four R strategy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink. For instance, we offer to take back reusable transport packaging to prevent it from becoming waste in the first place. These are completely different technical solutions.