Midea set to launch takeover of­fer for Kuka AG

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By QIUQUANLIN in Guangzhou qiuquanlin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s big­gest maker of home ap­pli­ances Midea Group will likely an­nounce on Thurs­day a full takeover bid for Ger­man in­dus­trial robot maker Kuka AG.

Midea will launch the takeover of­fer to all share­hold­ers of the lead­ing global sup­plier of in­tel­li­gent au­to­ma­tion so­lu­tions, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters re­port, which cited sources in Kuka.

Spokes­men for the Chi­nese group would not com­ment on the re­port, say­ing a state­ment would be made af­ter a takeover bid is for­mally an­nounced.

“Up till now, prepa­ra­tions for the bid have been well con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tions and laws of China and Ger­many,” said the a spokesman, who de­clined to be named.

Sources in Midea said ear­lier that the com­pany, based in Foshan, Guang­dong prov­ince, an in­dus­trial and eco­nomic pow­er­house in South China, planned to ex­pand its stake in Kuka to above 30 per­cent.

That would make it the big­gest share­holder, ahead ofGer­many’s Voith GmbH, a maker of in­dus­trial equip­ment.

Cur­rently, Midea in­di­rectly owns 13.5 per­cent of Kuka’s shares. The vol­un­tary takeover of­fer will re­port­edly be con­ducted by Midea’s af­fil­i­ate MECCA In­ter­na­tional Ltd, at 115 euros ($129) in cash per share.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ger­man busi­ness news­pa­per Han­dels­blatt, Midea is only seek­ing a 49 per­cent stake in Kuka. That pa­per cited un­named sources in the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

Midea sources re­port­edly said that the com­pany de­cided mount the takeover bid for Kuka dur­ing a board gen­eral meet­ing on June 6.

The in­creased share­hold­ing in Kuka was made in line with Midea’s “smart” strat­egy. Launched in 2015, it aimed to up­grade the group’s man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pe­ten­cies and de­velop more smart home de­vices, said Midea Chairman and CEO Paul Fang.

“We be­lieve that a larger share­hold­ing strikes the right balance be­tween us and Kuka, while also putting both com­pa­nies in a po­si­tion to drive fur­ther growth through col­lab­o­ra­tion, es­pe­cially in the Chi­nese mar­ket,” said Fang.

Fang also said the takeover was in line with the com­pany’s ex­pan­sion in the in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment mar­ket, af­ter the com­pany bought an 80.1 per­cent stake in Japanese home ap­pli­ances maker Toshiba Corp’s white goods busi­ness.

The Ger­man in­dus­trial robot maker will as­sess a pos­si­ble takeover bid from a Euro­pean com­pany, but it would be wrong to as­sume such an of­fer would take pri­or­ity over the bid from Midea, ac­cord­ing to ear­lier Reuters re­ports, cit­ing sources close to Kuka chief ex­ec­u­tive.

In­dus­trial gi­ant Siemen­sAG has no in­ter­est in be­com­ing a white knight for Kuka, ac­cord­ing to the Reuters re­port.

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