[SHANGHAI] Chinese appliance giant Midea on Wednesday launched a takeover offer for German industrial robotics supplier Kuka and is seeking at least a 30 per cent stake, according to a statement, the latest major overseas Chinese investment.
Midea - best known for its washing machines and air conditioners - offered 115 euros per share for Kuka, one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots, in the voluntary takeover offer.
The deal values Kuka at 4.6 billion euros (S$7.12 billion) and a 30 per cent stake would make Midea its biggest shareholder, Bloomberg News reported.
China is pushing its cashed-up companies to invest in foreign targets to improve their balance sheets and strengthen operations as economic growth slows at home.
The offer represents a near 60 per cent premium on Kuka's closing price on February 3, the day before Midea announced it was increasing its stake in the German firm, according to the statement.
It also represents a premium of 36 per cent over its closing price on Tuesday.
Midea said it did not intend to end up in a position of "domination" over the German company, but was obliged by regulations to make an offer to all shareholders if it was to increase its stake further.
"We believe that a larger shareholding strikes the right balance between an independent Kuka while also putting both companies in a position to drive further growth through collaboration, especially in China," Paul Fang, chairman and chief executive officer of Midea, said in the statement.
Analysts said the investment could give Midea technological know-how in an area with growth potential in China, while expanding Kuka's customers in the world's workshop.
"As a traditional producer of durable consumer goods, Midea's domestic market is almost saturated," Huang Fusheng, an analyst at China Securities, told AFP.
The company "needs to expand industries and transform, so this (investment) is a necessity", he added.
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 US$22 billion last year, according to its website.
"Midea sees Kuka as its partner of choice in further enhancing its automation product and service offerings, while Midea makes an ideal partner for Kuka to develop, manufacture and market Kuka's robotics proposition," Andy Gu, vice president of Midea, said in the statement.
Kuka, based in the German city of Augsburg, describes itself as one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots but also offers automated systems for manufacturing.
Midea stock was suspended from trading on Wednesday, but closed down 2.06 per cent at 21.35 yuan on Tuesday.
Chinese companies are flocking to seek deals abroad.
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) in February offered US$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 would buy US-based Carlson Hotels, owner of the Radisson brand, as it looks to build its presence in the American market.