Midea Group China: The Acquisition of German Robotics
In January 2017, the Midea Group Co. Ltd. (Midea), a China-based large manufacturer of electrical appliances, completed its acquisition of German-based KUKA AG (KUKA), a large manufacturer of industrial robots. To ease concerns about technologies falling into foreign hands, Midea entered into an alliance with KUKA that ensured KUKA's independence until 2023. However, within less than a year, KUKA experienced problems in its European and Asian markets. In China, it needed to lower costs. In Europe, a price war slowed down the orders, and the company had insufficient workers to meet demand in the United States and Asia. Some German automotive clients were losing trust in KUKA, and German employees worried about their job security. How could the two companies operate sufficiently independently to maintain their clients' trust, while being integrated enough to improve their efficiencies? How should they be prepared for the expiration of the alliance in 2023? Wiboon Kittilaksanawong is affiliated with Saitama University. Ines Sanso Codina is affiliated with Nagoya University of Commerce & Business.