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Ahead of China Trip, Rhetoric Raked up on Takeovers by German Minister


10/30/2016


Ahead of China Trip, Rhetoric Raked up on Takeovers by German Minister
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday that while protecting its own companies against foreign takeovers with "discriminatory requirements", China is strategically buying up key technologies in Germany.
 
After having ratcheted up tensions with Beijing by putting the brakes on the latest Chinese takeovers of German technology companies, Gabriel, also vice chancellor and leader of Germany's Social Democrats, heads to China next week.
 
The European Union was urged to ensure a level playing field and adopt a tougher approach with China by Gabriel in a guest column for Die Welt newspaper.
 
"Nobody can expect Europe to accept such foul play of trade partners," Gabriel wrote. For foreign direct investments, Germany was one of the most open economies, added Gabriel.
 
On the contrary, he said that takeovers are only approved under discriminatory requirements and foreign direct investments by European companies are being hampered in China.
 
"But China itself is going on a shopping tour here with a long list of interesting companies - with the clear intention of acquiring strategically important key technologies."

Only if takeovers jeopardize energy security, defense or financial stability can the government can block takeovers under the German law.
 
To stop takeovers of firms whose technology is deemed strategic for the future economic success of the region, Gabriel is pushing for a Europe-wide safeguard clause.
 
If China did not change course, then under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China would not be granted the important status as a market economy, the minister said.
 
"If China wants to get the market economy status, then it also has to act accordingly," Gabriel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview.
 
While Beijing says is its right 15 years after joining the WTO, the EU is debating whether to grant China "market economy status" from December.
 
Since it would change the method for determining a fair price, imposing anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods sold at knock-down prices would be harder for the Europe once the market economy status is granted.
  
Not only to do business with but also in foreign policy, Chancellor Angela Merkel views China as a strategically important partner despite her deputy's tough words. 60 business executives will join Gabriel on his five-day trip as China remains one of Germany's most important trading partners.
According to Thomson Reuters data, compared with 29 deals worth 263 million euros in the whole of 2015, this year to date, Chinese investors have racked up 47 deals to buy German targets with a total volume of 10.3 billion euros ($11.3 billion).
 
Takeovers that were about gaining access to German technology or that seemed to be driven by the Chinese government were creating worries for Berlin, Deputy Economy Minister Michael Machnig told the Financial Times.
 
"We need to have the powers to really investigate deals when it is clear that they are driven by industrial policy or to enable technology transfers. When necessary, in exceptional cases, maybe even to say we're not going to allow (them)," he said.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com) 


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