The troubled weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch is about to change ownership. The company from Oberndorf in Baden-Württemberg reported that it had knowledge of a takeover application from the Federal Ministry of Economics. It is an investor who is already involved in the company and now seeks the majority. Therefore, Heckler & Koch does not expect a change in the previous corporate strategy.
The company also said: "We welcome the fact that the sale process by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will be examined in accordance with applicable law, as envisaged by the Foreign Trade Regulation." So far, the company, which is considered the home supplier of the Bundeswehr and has produced, for example, the standard assault rifle G36, to just under two-thirds of the German investor Andreas Heeschen.
Heckler & Koch currently employs more than 900 people. The financial situation of the enterprise is strained, the debt mountain big. After two years of losses, however, things look better again in 2019, and the top of the company is aiming for a small profit. The order books are full. Heckler & Koch did not provide information on the possible new majority shareholder.
FDP politician Houben warns against selling to non-EU foreign countries
The sales plans initially met with criticism. The economic policy spokesman of the FDP in the Bundestag, Reinhard Houben, said that special care had to be taken when selling a German defense contractor to foreign companies so as not to jeopardize the security architecture of the Federal Republic. "With a takeover by large arms companies from other EU states, I see this less problematic – if it would go to investors from other parts of the world, I would have stomach ache."
It would not be the first time that the traditional company went to a foreign majority owner. After the end of the Cold War, when the business of Heckler & Koch had flourished, broke sales. In the early 1990s, a British arms company, today's BAE Systems, took over the company. In 2002, however, the English separated from their German subsidiary and investor Heeschen grabbed. 17 years later, Heckler & Koch may now go abroad again.