HERZOGENAURACH, Germany (Feb. 11, 2009)—Burdened by the debt of its acquisition of Continental A.G. and the fallout of the global economic slump, Schaeffler Group is seeking a “joint and responsible solution” with banks, potential investors and government institutions.
Emphasizing that they are not “gamblers who have speculated and lost,” Schaeffler Group owners Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg Schaeffler issued a statement saying, “We are no short-term-oriented financial investors, but rather entrepreneurs with long-term goals and concepts. We have brought Schaeffler and Continental together in order to create a new global supplier.”
Stressing that they are not “simply looking for hand-outs,” the Schaefflers said they are prepared to divest part of the group's wealth and to pay its debts with the proceeds. “Due to the difficult economic environment and the burden caused by the public discussion,” they said, “we have not yet succeeded in finding investors in spite of actively searching.”
Because they don't expect to be able to find private investors at this time, Schaeffler Group “requires support for a limited period of time,” the owners said, regarding a “viable concept” they are preparing to present to the German federal and state governments.
“Our talks with politicians are about securing interim financial aid in a special exceptional situation for a company that is sound at the core,” they said. “àWe are well aware that the viability of this concept will be scrutinized by the responsible public authorities to ensure that an interim financial aid package will not burden the taxpayers, and we realize that the Schaeffler Group must pay the statutory interest and fees incurred due to the bridgeover.”
The Schaefflers did not quantify the size of their debt nor specify the amount of assistance they are seeking.