EU, Berlin oppose Chinese bid for German robotics maker

Top officials in Brussels and Berlin oppose a Chinese take-over bid of German industrial robotics supplier Kuka, a newspaper reported Monday.

“Kuka is a successful company in a strategic sector that is of key importance for the digital future of European industry,” European Digital Economy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told the Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung.

Oettinger also questioned whether China would allow a foreign company to take a stake in such a strategic company and said “I’m afraid not”.

The German politician added that “since there was no call for help to China, it is reasonable to ask whether a European solution – such as an offer from one of the other two major shareholders, or capital input from other European companies – would not be the better solution”.

\Chinese appliance giant Midea – best known for its washing machines and air conditioners – last week launched a take-over offer for Kuka. It is seeking at least a 30 percent stake in a deal that values Kuka at 4.6 billion euros ($5.2 billion). Midea already holds a 13.5 percent stake in Kuka.

German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel had also voiced concern about the proposed deal at a cabinet meeting last week, the daily reported in an excerpt of an article to be published Tuesday.

On the record, Gabriel’s ministry says the government does not involve itself in business affairs, said the report. Kuka, based in the southern German city of Augsburg, describes itself as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial robots but also offers automated systems for manufacturing.

Midea is a leading consumer appliances maker as well as China’s biggest producer of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Its global turnover was more than $22 billion last year, according to its website. –Business Recorder