China's Midea set to take control at German robotics firm Kuka

A Kuka technician programs a robot arm of German industrial robot maker Kuka at the company's stand during the Hannover Fair in Hanover, Germany, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Midea looked set to secure a 52.8 percent controlling stake in German robotics maker Kuka on Monday after shareholders Voith and Friedhelm Loh sold their stakes to the Chinese bidder.

China’s Midea launched a 4.5 billion-euro ($5 billion) offer for Kuka in May, the biggest attempted takeover of a German industrial technology company, sparking protests by some Berlin politicians concerned about key know-how falling in to foreign hands.

Midea and Kuka responded by unveiling an investor agreement which includes a commitment to keep on the existing headquarters, factories, and jobs.

Midea’s 115 euros-a-share offer enabled the Chinese group to accumulate a 17.71 percent stake in Kuka by the end of last week, company filings show. The offer runs until July 15.

On Monday German entrepreneur Friedhelm Loh confirmed he had sold his 10 percent stake in Kuka to Midea.

“After the management and supervisory boards as well as worker representatives came out in support of the offer it made no sense to remain on board as a minority shareholder. I wish Kuka and its workers a constructive collaboration with Midea’s management,” Loh said in a statement made to Reuters.

Loh sold his shares on Friday he said, adding that had not coordinated his sale with that of mechanical engineering group Voith, which sold its 25.1 percent holding in Kuka last week.

On Sunday Voith said it would receive around 1.2 billion euros for its stake.

($1 = 0.8984 euros)

Reporting by Edward Taylor and Irene Preisinger; Editing by Tina Bellon, Greg Mahlich