THE BID was months in the making. On February 27th the supervisory board of Thyssenkrupp announced that a consortium led by two Anglo-Saxon private-equity firms, Advent International and Cinven, had beaten one led by two others, Blackstone and Carlyle, in the bidding war for Thyssenkrupp Elevator (TKE), a division of the troubled conglomerate. They paid €17.2bn ($19bn), a rich price for the world’s fourth-largest liftmaker. It is the biggest private-equity deal ever in Germany, and one of largest anywhere in Europe.
It is not the only recent one. Germany has become the most popular European market for private-equity investors, according to consultants at PwC. Last year the value of disclosed deals reached an all-time high of €32bn (see chart). Many of them involved foreign buy-out firms, whose advances seem increasingly welcome in Germany. Martina Merz, chief executive of the cash-strapped Thyssenkrupp, preferred the bids of the two consortiums to a higher one from Kone, a rival Finnish liftmaker. She worried that antitrust concerns would cause long delays in completing the deal (even though Kone planned to let CVC, another private-equity firm, run TKE’s European business). And union leaders opposed the Kone bid, assuming it would result in larger job losses than a takeover by private-equity groups, as the combined rivals reaped...
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