CHINA CALLING

Beijing on German Shopping Spree

kuka.dpa Picture-Alliance.Huang Zhengwe
Kuka robotics on display at the China International Industry Fair 2015 in Shanghai, China.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Acquisitions by Chinese investors stand to transform the makeup of small and medium-sized companies known as Germany’s “Mittelstand.”

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Chinese investment in foreign companies more than tripled in value worldwide between 2013 and 2015 — from $154 billion to $481 billion.
    • A 2014 poll by U.S.-based Pew Research showed roughly 90 percent of Germans disapprove of foreign investment in their country.
    • Chinese takeovers during the first quarter of 2016 accounted for nearly 30 percent of global acquisitions.
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    Audio

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When shareholders of German robot maker Kuka visited the company’s headquarters in Augsburg last month, it wasn’t just to get a look at the latest models.

Investors were far more eager to hear from the company chief executive, Till Reuter, about a bid by Chinese appliance maker Midea to increase its 10 percent stake in Kuka to more than 30 percent.

Mr. Reuter is now trying to sell the idea to skeptical investors at home. Addressing shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting, he touted China as “the biggest robotics market in the world.” Midea’s influence, he said, would give Kuka the chance to grow there – and virtually guarantee the company’s goal of raising revenues from €3 billion to €4.5 billion by 2020.

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