The Germans Are Coming

From the January 1999 Trumpet Print Edition

With lightning-fast swiftness, leading German corporations have positioned themselves powerfully on the world economic stage through a series of strategic takeovers and alliances. In the past year, mergers and takeovers by German companies almost doubled.

With all the glamour of a Las Vegas show, the world’s newest auto manufacturer began trading on Wall Street November 17 under the new symbol DCX. The company, DaimlerChrysler, is the product of the biggest industrial merger to date. The $42 billion deal combines Europe’s largest industrial manufacturer, Daimler-Benz, with Chrysler. The combine will create a German-dominated conglomerate with holdings in cars and light trucks, heavy trucks, aerospace, railway trains, automation technology and electronics (an ominous combination when considering a nation’s ability to prepare for war).

Coming right after Volkswagen and BMW took over Rolls Royce, the DaimlerChrysler deal provides another piece of the emerging German puzzle: swift, aggressive economic expansion and dominance. Is it possible that what Germany was unable to obtain through war, it is now gaining through peace?

German gains in the global economy have been spectacular. Just recently, merger-fever gripped Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest commercial bank, when it announced that it had come to a preliminary agreement with the New York-based Bankers Trust on pursuing a merger. If the deal goes through, the merger will bring Deutsche Bank’s total assets to $1.3 trillion and make it the largest financial institution in the world.

As the stage is set for the introduction of Europe’s new currency, the euro, Germany’s recent rash of mergers has put it in the economic spotlight. Combined with the EU presidency that it will take over in January, and control of the European Central Bank, Germany will have staked out a position both in Europe and in the world’s leading economies from which she will be able to wield unprecedented influence.