A telephone rather than a doorman greets visitors at the entrance of German piano manufacturer Schimmel in Braunschweig, in the state of Lower Saxony. Next to it is a list of extensions that includes the number for Hannes Schimmel-Vogel, president of the 131-year-old company.
When visitors dial the number, Mr. Schimmel-Vogel asks them to come to a modest conference room furnished with the kind of metal frame chairs that were modern in the 1990s.
The Schimmel family has never been one to spend lavishly on self-promotion. Several weeks ago, family members sold their tradition-steeped piano business to Pearl River of Guangzhou, China. The world’s leading piano producer manufactures approximately 130,000 units per year, compared to 2,500 for Schimmel, Europe’s leading manufacturer.
Though just a small player in the global market, Schimmel finds itself right in the middle a growing global trend: China is on buying spree.
For years, Chinese companies have been seeking to parlay their export-driven earnings into overseas acquisitions. Until recently, their interest in German companies had been more rumor than real.