Germany’s mid-size businesses, considered the backbone of the country’s economy, for years spurned advances from Chinese companies. Then the global economy
slumped and German companies stopped playing hard to get.
So far this year nine German “Mittelstand” companies,
typically family-owned with fewer than 500 employees, have
agreed to be acquired by Chinese firms, bringing the total to 21
since the beginning of 2011. China surpassed the U.S. last year
to become the largest foreign direct investor in Germany by
number of deals. The uptick signals that the 3 million
Mittelstand companies, accounting for roughly half of Germany’s
economic output, will put aside their wariness of China and
outside ownership in favor of growth and survival.
“Many Mittelstand companies ran into problems during the
financial crisis,” said Christian von Stetten, a German
lawmaker in Berlin who helps oversee a Parliamentary committee
on Mittelstand firms. “A Chinese investment can make sense and
be a way out of the crisis.”