Troubled trans-Atlantic takeovers have become something of a recurring nightmare haunting the captains of German industry.
The latest potential victim is Bayer boss Werner Baumann, who is digging in his heels to press forth with the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant’s blockbuster bid for Monsanto. The U.S.-based agricultural chemicals and seeds specialist this week rebuffed Bayer’s $62-billion offer.
As Bayer now carefully considers its next moves in this high-stakes corporate chess match, recent history shows that avoiding disaster in the Land of Opportunity is easier said than done.
Just ask Ron Sommer, the ex-chief executive of Deutsche Telekom. In 2000, with Mr. Sommer at the helm, the former telecommunications monopolist massively overpaid for U.S. mobile phone company Voicestream, shelling out $50 billion (€56 billion) amid the exuberance of the dot-com bubble. But when the bubble burst soon thereafter, write-downs ballooned into the double-digit billions for Voicestream.
Often painted as the poster child for ill-fated Teutonic takeovers of American assets, Mr. Sommer is far from the only German CEO jinxed by epic fails abroad.