on May 19th, 2016

China wants to be in charge of building service robots if the latest bid for a robotics company is any indication. A Chinese group named Midea Group has just put in their bid for Germany's Kuka Robotics. Their offer to the company is around $5 billion, which should show the seriousness of the market of service robotics. Kuka's current focus is how robotics will factor into the Internet of Things and assist the expansion of Industrie 4.0.

EIT Stock Image Credit: Associated Press

An automated welding robot is what one of their recent videos has shown off, a robot they also displayed at the Hannover Fair 2016. China, already synonymous for their robotic pioneering, will cement themselves as the number one importer of robotics if their deal for Kuka goes through. The International Federation of Robotics has reported that China currently utilizes 36 robots to every 10,000 humans. They lag behind the United States, who has 164 robots per 10,000 humans, who then lag behind South Korea who have 478 robots per 10,000 humans. The group also report that industrial robot sales have jumped up by 8% in 2015, with the greatest demand being in the automotive industry. 

Midea Group says that they are not interested in a full takeover, which might bode well for some engineers working in the background at Kuka AG. It looks like their expertise is being chased here, but their $3 billion a year business might also be an attractive draw card. Nonetheless, experts are saying that Midea's purchase of Kuka could put them in the driver's seat of industrial automation in the world. 

The Wall Street Journal has released the figures, showing how many Chinese companies have exacted takeovers of international companies. The results are staggering:

Date announced Target Country Industry Acquirer Deal value excluding debt, in billions
Feb 3 Syngenta  Switzerland Agribusiness ChemChina $44.1 billion
Feb 17 Ingram Micro United States Technology Tianjin Tianhai Investment Development $6.1 billion
Jan 15 General Electric United States Consumer Products  Qingdao Haier $5.4 billion
May 18 Kuka Germany  Robotics Midea Group $5 billion +
Jan 12 Legendary Entertainment United States Leisure and recreation Dalian Wanda Group $3.5 billion


The biggest Chinese takeover of a company this year is ChemChina's mammoth $44.1 billion takeover of Syngenta in agribusiness, however, the biggest robotics takeover is Kuka's purchase by Midea Group. It should be interesting to see what kind of industrial robotic technologies come out of the deal but some analysts believe that Midea Group might want to venture into the home-robot industry for consumers to purchase. Time will tell. 

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