Chinese firm Midea gets over 50% of Germany’s Kuka

Midea — best known for selling washing machines and air conditioners — offered 115 euros (then US$130) per share for Kuka, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial robots, in June.

It valued Kuka at 4.6 billion euros and was a near 60 percent premium to Kuka’s closing price before Midea announced it was increasing its stake in the German firm in February.

As of Wednesday, the offer had been accepted by holders of 43.74 percent of Kuka’s shares, the Chinese company said in a statement on the Shenzhen stock exchange, where it is listed.

Adding the shares it already owns, it said it had “approximately 57.25 percent of the issued share capital and the existing voting rights of Kuka.”

Beijing has pushed Chinese companies to “go out” and invest in foreign targets to increase their technological capabilities and seek new markets as economic growth slows at home.

But the Kuka deal has raised concerns in Europe about the transfer of high-end technology to China, with European media reporting officials in Brussels and Berlin oppose a Chinese takeover of the firm — allegations denied by Berlin.

The powerful IG Metall trade union has also sought to find different buyers for Kuka shares, pushing for a 25.1-percent stake previously owned by technology company Voith to remain in German hands — but no competing buyer came forward.

Voith sold Midea its shares for 1.2 billion euros last week.

On Thursday, Midea closed up 0.25 percent to 24.44 yuan in Shenzhen before the announcement.

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