Chinese takeover brings no challenge but growth, says German company EEW

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After being taken over by a Chinese state-owned company, Germany's EEW Energy From Waste is on a steady growth track, instead of holding doubts at the beginning.

With a history of over 140 years, EEW was taken over by China's state-owned Beijing Enterprises for 1.4 billion euros (US$1.6 billion) in 2016. It was the largest Chinese acquisition of a German company at that time.

"The cooperation is on a very high level. It couldn't be better," said Bernard M. Kemper, chief executive officer of the EEW, told Xinhua in an interview.

As Europe's biggest company dedicated to waste incineration, EEW has 16 incineration facilities in Germany and two in neighboring countries, with a capacity of processing around 4.7 million tons of waste per year for energy production.

"If you go back to three years ago, it was a challenge for both parties. For Chinese shareholders, they need to understand the German framework and market. On the other side, EEW had a Chinese shareholder," said Kemper.

But nothing had changed in EEW except gaining support from the Chinese shareholders, and vice versa. In the past three years, the Chinese shareholders approved several new major projects for expansion, allowing the company to rebuild a line in Premnitz with 70 million euros and a plant near Hamburg with 150 million euros, to name a few.

"The message is that, after three years of the takeover, EEW is not only willing to grow, together with the shareholder we are able to grow. The Chinese shareholder trusts the company and brings assets to the company, and they allow and ask EEW to expand its new and existing business," added Kemper.

At the beginning, the staff was worried about the difference between a German company and a Chinese state-owned one, but later the concern was dispelled.

"There is no difference between a German and a Chinese company in terms of management and the staff. We do the things we have to do, and nothing has changed. The staff is satisfied with this development and the status of the company," said Ronald Philipp, spokesman of EEW.

As the new business is coming, so are new employment and more turnover. Kemper said the new line in Premnitz will bring several million euros more turnover per year, which is considerable for the quite stable industry.

With a reliable Chinese shareholder, EEW is now looking for expansion in neighboring European countries, and on the other hand, with the combination of German technology and the shareholder's channel in China, EEW is now supporting two projects in China, one in Beijing's suburb and another in the coastal tourist city of Beihai in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The Beihai facility, which is under construction, is designed to deal with 450,000 tons of waste per year. EEW's technicians checked the designs of the Chinese projects, and hold weekly exchanges with their Chinese colleagues. EEW is also trying to give good examples of German work that could be transported to China.

Beijing Enterprises' takeover of EEW came as China is focusing more on sustainable development.

Beijing Enterprises said after the takeover that it would learn Europe's advanced technology, concepts and management experience, in a bid to improve China's environmental protection industry and make contributions to the country's sustainable development.

For EEW, the deal is a good example of a win-win deal and mutual trust.

"They gave us a promise: you should grow in Europe, in a European platform, and you should support us in China on our internal projects. This is what we are doing," said Kemper. (1 euro = US$1.13)

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