China’s Midea grabs Germany’s Kuka

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FRANKFURT: Chinese appliance giant Midea said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) it had secured almost 95 percent of German robotics firm Kuka, in the face of European fears over losing control over the high-tech company.

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The company already held 13.51 percent of Kuka—a world-leading manufacturer of industrial robots —before its June offer of 115 euros per share, which valued the firm at 4.6 billion euros ($5.1 billion).

Midea said in its Monday statement that 81.04 percent of shares were tendered by the end of an extended acceptance period at midnight on August 3, bringing its total to 94.55 percent.

The offer remains subject to regulatory approval.

Officials in Brussels and Berlin —including German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and European commissioner Guenther Oettinger—have expressed concerns over German high-end intellectual property, technology, and know-how departing for China as Midea’s offer progressed.

A growing list of German companies, such as Kion, Putzmeister and KraussMaffei have come under Chinese ownership in recent years.

But there is little ministers can do to stop the deal.

Midea, best known for air conditioners and washing machines, hopes to extend automation at its factories as it faces rising labour costs in China—which also make Kuka’s robots attractive to other manufacturers in the world’s second-largest economy.

AFP

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