German Pipe Manufacturer Acquired By Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway

Krefeld, Germany: A unit of American multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to acquire Wilhelm Schulz GmbH, a German company manufacturing pipes mainly for the oil and gas industry.

The conglomerate bought metal fabrication company Precision Castparts (PCC) last year for US$37 billion, one of its largest acquisitions ever. Billionaire chairman and chief executive officer Warren Buffett said a month later that he expected PCC’s chief executive officer Mark Donegan to find more acquisitions.

Wilhelm Schulz started in 1945 as a family-owned manufacturer of stainless steel piping accessories in 1945, later expanding internationally. The company’s chief executive officer Rainer Floeth confirmed by phone that Berkshire’s PCC had agreed to buy the company, but was unable to elaborate on terms due to contractual obligations.

An aging population and smaller family sizes are making it difficult for Mittelständler (German SMEs that are usually family-owned) to recruit the next generation of managers. There are five interested sellers of manufacturing businesses for every interested buyer, according to a study by the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Almost half (47 percent) of all respondents cited the inability to find a suitable buyer for their business.

APMEN News, Feb 2017

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