Objections against Sale of Kuka to China's Midea
On May 18 Kuka Aktiengesellschaft, Augsburg, Germany, informed about a takeover bid by China's Midea Group. Mecca International (BVI) Limited, a 100% subsidiary of Midea Group Co., Ltd.,made a tender offer for all outstanding Kuka shares. Accordingly, the bidder intends to offer to pay a cash consideration of EUR 115.00 per Kuka share to all shareholders.
Midea also declared that it intends to support Kuka’s further growth, in particular as leading German provider for Industrie 4.0-solutions as well as the continuing penetration of the Chinese market. In addition, Midea in particular assures to keep the headquarters of Kuka in Augsburg, the actual size of the workforce in Germany and in the foreign Kuka sites and the brand “Kuka” as well as the listing of the Kuka shares in Germany. Furthermore, Midea would welcome if the Kuka Executive Board Members will continue with their office and the two major German shareholders will stay invested in the company.
Meanwhile, several parties have expressed their concern. Hubert Lienhard , the chief executive of Kuka's major shareholder Voith GmbH said that Kuka management's positive stance toward the 4.5 billion euro (USD 5 billion) takeover bid by China's Midea is premature. Unlisted mechanical engineering group Voith holds 25.1 % of the shares in German factory robot maker Kuka, allowing it to block strategic decisions.
Germany's European Union Commissioner Günther Oettinger also joined the debate, calling on majority shareholders to consider alternatives to Midea's bid, saying that Kuka is of strategic importance to Germany. "Since there was no cry for help to China, we should be allowed to think about whether a European approach wouldn't be the better solution for Kuka," Oettinger told German daily FAZ, citing an alternative offer by the two majority shareholders or a takeover by other European companies as possible options.
In the FAZ article, Oettinger echoed remarks by German government sources last week, who cautioned against an outflow of technology and said they were keeping a close eye on Chinese investments in the country. However, the EU Commissioner, who is responsible for digital economy, does not have the power to block a takeover.
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