Kuka CEO says Midea offer not a hostile takeover

MUNICH, May 18 (Reuters) - Germany’s Kuka on Wednesday welcomed a pledge from Chinese investor Midea that the company would remain independent in the wake of a takeover offer made for the German robotics company on Wednesday.

Midea Group unveiled a $5 billion offer to buy the Augsburg-based factory robot manufacturer, in the latest bid by a Chinese investor to gain control of cutting-edge German industrial technology.

“Kuka will remain German. The management will remain independent and the board will continue to pursue its strategy,” Chief Executive Till Reuter said in an interview.

“We do not see this as being hostile in any way,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.

“For us, this is not a surprise”, Reuter added. Midea, which has around 100,000 employees, is seeking to increase its Kuka stake from 13.5 percent at present to beyond 30 percent, mandating a takeover offer under German law.

Kuka has 12,300 employees.

Reuter cautiously welcomed the approach, but Kuka’s management still needs to evaluate the takeover offer and make a formal recommendation to shareholders.

“China will be decisive for the Robotics market. The level of automation there is relatively low”, Reuter said. (Reporting by Irene Preisinger, Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Tina Bellon)