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terça-feira, agosto 29, 2006

German blue chips fear eastern rivals


Germany's largest industrial companies are increasingly shaping their strategies based on the competitive threat from Chinese and Indian companies, which they fear could one day take them over, say top chief executives and bankers.

Groups such as Siemens, Volkswagen and BASF are investing billions in these countries and other key markets, such as Russia, to remain internationally competitive and to tap both their stronger growth and the larger number of engineers they produce each year.

But the blue chips are also acting in the belief that companies from fast-growing countries could soon follow the example of steelmaker Mittal and buy some of Europe's industrial giants.

"The dominant theme in German boardrooms at the moment is whether a company from one of these countries will one day - say in five or 10 years - be able to take over a big company," said the head of an investment bank in Frankfurt. "Nobody feels safe - from Eon and Siemens [the two largest companies by market capitalisation] downwards."

The catalyst for such discussion is the takeover of European steelmaker Arcelor by Mittal, a group largely unknown five years ago whose assets are predominantly in developing countries such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine. "That is the problem," said another senior German banker. "Nobody is quite sure yet what the name of the aggressor could be but they can see it coming and are trying to do all they can to head it off."


FT.com / Companies / Consumer industries - German blue chips fear eastern rivals


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