Special to CONTRACTOR
FRANKFURT, GERMANY —German industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch has announced that it is talking with Buderus shareholders about buying the company, according to Reuters news service. The negotiations would take months to complete, said Bosch, best known in the United States for its line of power tools.
Bosch’s announcement of the talks came after it revealed that it now owns 13.35% of Buderus’ stock. Bosch already sells heating equipment in Europe under the Junkers brand name. It is also a major supplier to the automotive market.
Buderus officials in the United States said that Bosch has been talking about buying the company for a year and a half. Bosch failed in a hostile takeover attempt a year ago, Reuters reported.
This time Bosch will have to persuade Buderus’ main shareholders to sell, including building group Bilfinger Berger, which owns slightly more than 30%, and Commerzbank, which holds 10.5%. According to European analysts quoted by Reuters, Bosch hasn’t come up with enough money, and Buderus shareholders will probably demand more than 30 euros (about $32) per share.
Buderus did not issue a formal statement in response to news reports. Bosch, however, made the following comments in its statement.
“It is in the strategic interest of the Bosch Group to make useful additions to its product portfolio,” Bosch said. “Our objective is the further improvement of our sales structure both by regions and by sectors. From our point of view, thermo-technology is an attractive business, which we plan to develop further. In this context we are also considering acquisitions. Against this background Bosch has conducted talks with Buderus. Both parties have agreed to treat the contents of the talks confidentially. Therefore, we cannot make any further comments on this issue.
“We would like to point out, however, that our thermo-technology division [Junkers] already today holds a strong position internationally. For gas-fired, water-heating boilers, we are No. 1 in Europe. Worldwide, we are among the top three suppliers in this field. For gas-fired heating boilers, we are the largest supplier both in Europe and on the world market.”
In 2000, 75% of the revenue of Bosch’s thermo-technology division was generated outside Europe, the company said. The division has a total of 6,200 employees, including 4,700 outside Germany. Bosch markets its thermo-technology business in 185 countries on five continents. It manufactures the division’s products at eight production sites in six countries.
“Innovative power is an important factor in the strong market position of the thermo-technology division,” the company said, adding that it is increasing funding for research and development. “We entered the field of high-efficiency units at an early point in time, and developed our first units 15 years ago.
“Presently we offer a wide range of high-efficiency units. We thus meet customers’ demand for low-consumption and especially low-emissions units.”