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German Corporate Hangover

Release time : 2015-06-15 11:50:43
German commercial culture was once obsessed with maintaining a harmonious relationship with politicians, unions and domestic competitors. This seems to be changing, with German companies now increasingly prepared to mount hostile bids against rivals. Or is it ? Krupp set the ball rolling more than a decade ago with its unsolicited approach to Thyssen. But ultimately the two sides agreed to a friendly merger. A couple of years ago Merck launched a hostile bid for Schering, and that ended with a friendly merger between Schering and Bayer. Now Schaeffler is putting pressure on Continental after secretly securing 36 per cent of the shares in its rival. Continental was not amused and has told Schaeffler its offer is too low. But it also seems prepared to negotiate with the enemy. So the chances are that this deal too will follow what is becoming a trend in corporate Germany of getting friendly through hostile bids, although this time around, Schaefflers ??Price Fixing Convictionsand other dubious corporate behavior must be considered by Continental shareholders, directors and unions alike. The politicians do not seem bothered by this growing consolidation of German industry. So long, that is, as it is conducted by German companies and does not involve foreign predators. The country still seems to be suffering from the hangover of the one and only large successful foreign bid for a German corporate icon C Vodafones takeover of Mannesmann eight years ago. Imagine if a foreign predator had built up creeping control of either Continental, as Schaeffler has done, or Volkswagen, as Porsche has done. There would have been a political OUTCRY.