China's Midea plans major stake in German robotics firm: report

18th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Shares of Chinese appliance giant Midea were suspended from trading on Wednesday, the Shenzhen exchange said, following media reports that the company plans to boost its stake in German industrial robotics supplier Kuka.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Midea was close to disclosing an offer for Kuka, which it described as a "takeover", quoting people familiar with the matter.

The report said Midea was considering lifting its stake in Kuka to more than 30 percent from around 10 percent currently, but was not necessarily seeking to buy more than half the German company or acquire it altogether.

The terms could value Kuka at roughly 4.4 billion euros ($5.0 billion), it said.

Kuka, based in the German city of Augsburg, describes itself as one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots.

The Shenzhen stock exchange said in a statement that Midea had asked for trading in its shares to be suspended because of a "major matter" which could impact their price. Its stock closed down 2.06 percent to 21.35 yuan ($3.27) on Tuesday.

Midea is a leading consumer appliances maker, as well as China's biggest producer of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Its global turnover was more than $22 billion last year, according to its website.

The offer, if completed, would be the latest move by a Chinese company to invest in foreign targets as Beijing encourages firms to look overseas for deals that improve their balance sheets and strengthen their operations as economic growth slows at home.

State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) in February offered $43 billion for Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta, which will be the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese firm if completed.

Last month, Chinese aviation and tourism conglomerate HNA announced it will buy US-based Carlson Hotels, owner of the Radisson brand, as it looks to build its presence in the American market.

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© 2016 AFP

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