The rise of private equity
German business doesn't like equity. The old Rheinland model that was the foundation of the Wirtschaftswunder and Germany's spectacular rise from the ashes after the second world war is based on close working relationship between private enterprise, the local bank and the regional authorities. There was no need to open a company up to public scrutiny in the form of demanding shareholders. "Germany is all about private equity, in that private ownership is still the norm. If you take a list of the 30 biggest listed companies in Germany and a list of the 30-biggest companies then there is only limited overlap," says Siegmar Thakur-Weigold, head of alternative investments at HSBC. "There is a long tradition of buying companies here, but none of selling them again. Selling has been seen as a sign of weakness."
But that is changing as the internal borders fall in Europe. Economic problems have opened up opportunities for the fleet of foot and private equity is booming in Germany.
The path is being blazed by US and UK firms picking over the best of German companies whose businesses hit problems during the downturn.