Business News

Merkel leaves door open to German counter-bid for Kuka

BEIJING (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled on Monday that she would not try to prevent a Chinese takeover of German robot maker Kuka but also left the door open to German firms making a counter-offer.

Augsburg-based Kuka is the target of a takeover bid by Chinese home appliance maker Midea. The offer has fanned a furious debate over Chinese takeovers in Europe, with some German politicians calling for tougher restrictions.

“I still think there is an opportunity to come to a good solution,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a visit to Beijing.

“And by the way nobody in Germany is forbidden from getting involved with Kuka,” she added. “Now we have to look to see what solutions can be found.”

Li stressed that it was a private sector issue and should be wound up according to international conventions.

No German firms have come forward as possible white knights for Kuka. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said at the weekend that he had no interest in making a bid for the firm.

Merkel said there was a general openness toward investments from China but in return, it was expected that China opened up and offered the same investment conditions: “Germany has always offered itself as an open investment market for businesses, including for Chinese companies,” she said.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Noah Barkin