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Over the next five years, more than 840,000 owners of small and medium size enterprises in Germany — the famed Mittelstand — will face the same quandary as the Wirtgen brothers, according to a survey by publicly-owned German lender KfW Banking Group.

As a whole generation of postwar entrepreneurs prepares for retirement, more than one in five of these German businesses are going to face a change in ownership, or closure, by 2022.

Keeping the company in family hands is the preferred option for 54 per cent of all German entrepreneurs facing retirement over the coming years; only 42 per cent take a sale to an external buyer into account at all, the KfW survey shows.

And selling to private equity investors, who are often labelled “locusts” in the public debate in Germany, seems to be a particular taboo, as DZ Bank’s Mr Rogge says. “Finding a buyer who deals with the company and the employees, responsibly is one of the top three concerns for most owners,” he says, adding that many distrust private equity funds. (subscription required)

There is probably many good opportunites for BRK. Definitely worth opening an office in Germany and making their interest known.
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