Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- ABB Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer said reports it will make an offer for German robot maker Kuka AG are nothing but conjecture because the Swiss company already has built up its own sizable automation business.

“Recent media reports that we will bid for our German competitor Kuka are pure speculation,” the CEO said in an internal memo distributed to staff and seen by Bloomberg on Friday. A spokesman for ABB declined to comment.

With the note, the ABB chief executive counters talk the Zurich-based company will try to acquire Kuka, which is being pursued by China’s biggest appliance maker Midea Group Co.

The Chinese company’s move has created political hand-wringing in Germany over fears the country is losing control of home-grown technological expertise and provoked calls for an alternative European investor. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is leading an effort to find a suitor in Europe, and has courted ABB and Siemens AG, a government official said earlier this month.

Midea last week began a tender offer to raise its stake in Kuka that values the industrial robot maker at 4.6 billion euros ($5.1 billion). The lead up to the offer

“We have not had to acquire market share to reach critical mass in this business,” Spiesshofer said in the memo. “We already have this critical mass and are well positioned to keep growing profitably under our own steam.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net, Jan Schwalbe, Zoe Schneeweiss

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