SCHROBENHAUSEN, Germany (Reuters) - Bauer, a big producer of construction equipment, is better placed than many German companies that invested heavily in China over the past few decades.
The Bavaria-based firm, which traces its roots back to 1790, does not have to worry about keeping a Chinese joint venture partner happy because it is the sole owner of its two plants in Shanghai and Tianjin.
And the specialist engineering machines Bauer produces there are sold in countries across Asia, shielding the group from swings in the volatile Chinese building market.
Even so, CEO Thomas Bauer, the seventh generation in his family to run the firm, is worried about his company’s place in China and a broader economic relationship that until recently was seen by German corporations and politicians as a lucrative one-way bet.
“Germany has put too many eggs into one basket, and that basket is China,” Bauer, a jovial 62-year-old with a thick Bavarian accent, told Reuters at the company’s headquarters in Schrobenhausen, an hour’s drive north of Munich.
Bauer’s BSAG.DE concern points to a growing fear in Germany. For more than a decade, the country has been the growth locomotive of Europe, its economy weathering global financial turmoil, the euro zone debt crisis and a record influx of refugees.
That resilience was based on two key drivers: Germany had innovative firms that produced high-end manufactured goods that fast-growing economies needed; and the country was better than others at profiting from an open, rules-based global trading system that rewarded competitiveness.
China has been crucial on both fronts. Over the past decade it bought up German cars and machinery