China Has Begun Buying Up Germany’s Family-Owned Industrial Backbone

A Putzmeister concrete pump in action at Fukushima

[credit provider=”Putzmeister” url=””]

German concrete pump-maker Putzmeister looks set to be bought by Chinese firm Sany for 360 million euros ($473 million), Reuters reports.You may have heard of Sany, run by China’s richest man, Liang Wengen, but it’s probably unlikely you’ve heard of Putzmeister (outside of, perhaps, their involvement in last year’s Fukushima disaster) — but to Germans, this is a big deal.

Putzmeister, a family owned firm with revenues of around €570 million ($753 million), is part of Germany’s “Mittelstand”—a number of small- and medium-sized firms, often family-run, that are said to be the backbone of Germany’s economy.

While far from the first Chinese deal in the area, as the FT’s Chris Byrant notes, it is noticably large and certainly surprising, given the family nature of the firm. Hundreds of workers are protesting the move today, and many more are probably watching, anxiously.

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