Upheaval in the pharmaceutical sector
Patents are expiring as earnings decline in the pharmaceutical sector. Several major companies are in the midst of huge deals. Swiss drugmaker Novartis wants to sell its vaccines business to British rival GlaxoSmithKline in exchange for its cancer drugs unit. US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer wants to acquire British company AstraZeneca.
China counting on German innovation
German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel is visiting China as the Beijing Auto Show gets underway. A new car being introduced at the fair represents two trends in China's car industry: western joint ventures and electric vehicles. China's turbocharged economic growth has come at a massive cost to the environment. Its main cities are notorious for smog -- blamed both on dirty industry and a surge in car use. The new leadership in Beijing has responded by "declaring war" on pollution. And one key weapon will be electric cars. China aims to have 5 million on its roads by 2020. And it's dishing out huge subsidies to achieve that goal. Mercedes is eyeing those incentives in a joint venture with a Chinese battery specialist to bring out the new car, the Denza.
Transferring technology to China
A German company known for the sterling quality of its gear-wheels for automatic transmissions has no compunction about transferring its know-how to China despite the risk of intellectual property theft. Neue Zahnradwerk Leipzig (NZL) is investing €15 million in a plant in China and training workers in its processes. NZL already has a big customer lined up -- Volkswagen -- and hopes to cash in on the Chinese automotive market. It says it's impossible to copy the processes that put its products in a quality class of their own.