Arms dealer Heckler & Koch is for sale


The assault rifle G36 from Heckler & Koch.Photo: dpa / Patrick Seeger

OberndorfThe German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch is for sale. As the company from Baden-Wuerttemberg reported, they had knowledge of a takeover application to the Federal Ministry of Economics. Almost two-thirds of the armaments manufacturer has been owned by German investor Andreas Heeschen. The company supplies the Bundeswehr with, among other things, the standard assault rifle G36.

Previously, the magazine had reported the "Focus" of the plans. According to its information agents of the Federal Intelligence Service investigate the background of the possible sale. According to Focus, several offshore companies are interested in the armaments manufacturer. It is a conglomeration of companies from different regions of the world, from the Caribbean island of Barbados, the USA, New Zealand, Malta and Luxembourg. A central role is played by a Frenchman named Nicolas Walewski.

The takeover project was already reported to the Federal Ministry of Economics a year ago. The ministry did not confirm the report. Heckler & Koch stated: "We welcome the fact that the sale process by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is being examined intensively in accordance with applicable law, as envisaged by the Foreign Trade Ordinance." A change in the previous corporate strategy was not to be expected.

Caution should be exercised with foreign companies

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 that less problematic – if it would go to investors from other parts of the world, I would have stomach ache."

The financial situation of the company with its more than 900 employees is strained, the mountain of debt large. After two years of losses, however, things look better again in 2019, and the top of the company is aiming for a small profit.

However, it would not be complete new territory if the traditional company soon went to a foreign majority owner. After the end of the Cold War, in which the H & K business had flourished, the sales had collapsed, in the early 1990s, there was a change of ownership. A British arms company, today's BAE Systems, took over the helm. In 2002, however, the English separated from their German daughter and Heeschen grabbed. 17 years later, the baton is probably passed on – possibly again abroad.

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