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Sieber & Sohn acquires Märklin

Published: March 21, 2013
Simba Dickie CEO Michael Sieber (right), and his firm Sieber & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG, announce the acquisition of Märklin Inc. on March 21 in Fürth, Germany. Also pictured is Michael Pluta, the bankruptcy trustee who had overseen operations at Märklin after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.
Photo by heller & partner communication GmbH
Long-discussed rumors have finally been confirmed: Sieber & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG, the firm established by Simba Dickie Group CEO Michael Sieber and his son, Florian, will take over model railway manufacturer Märklin.

A press conference was held March 21 in Fürth, Germany, to announce the takeover.

Through Sieber & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG, Michael Sieber, a pioneer of the German toy industry, will become the new majority shareholder at Märklin.

All of the current positions in both locations — Göppingen, Germany, and Györ, Hungary — will remain intact, and all outstanding liabilities to banks and other creditors will be settled, according to a press release from Märklin. The company’s headquarters will remain intact in its current location, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Under the takeover agreement, Florian Sieber will join the current dual leadership of the company as the third managing director of equal rank, working alongside Wolfrad Bächle and Stefan Löbich.

“The Märklin name is synonymous with a whole category of toys, and has stood for top German quality since 1859,” Sieber said in the release. “That is why it is my great pleasure to help shape the future of this traditional brand with a history dating back more than 150 years.”

The new ownership will also secure the business location of Göppingen and the surrounding districts over the long term: The key provisions of the existing company agreement with the workforce have been extended beyond 2014, according to the release. For salaried employees in Göppingen, this means the safeguarding of positions until 2019 — a provision signed by 98 percent of the employees.

“During the past four years, we have managed to place the company back on a stable footing,” said Michael Pluta, the bankruptcy trustee who had overseen operations at Märklin after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Pluta was responsible for negotiating the takeover on behalf of the creditors. “Having Sieber & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG join as new owners ultimately confirms the success of the decisions we have made to date.”

Pluta also endorsed the new ownership structure. “The agreement guarantees complete service of outstanding claims and continuation of business operations,” he said.

Sieber echoed that assessment: “Mr Pluta and his team have chosen the right course for the future,” he said. “All things considered, I see great potential for growth for Märklin and the subsidiary companies Trix and LGB.”

Sieber & Sohn expects to pursue a multi-brand strategy, according to the release, and Sieber also plans to focus on children and teens as a future business strategy. The basis for this already exists in the “Märklin My World” and “LGB Toy Train” lines.

“Anyone who, like me, was enthusiastic about Märklin even as a child will remain loyal to the brand as an adult,” he said.

The Märklin headquarters in Baden-Württemberg will remain the center for the development and production of special items going forward. Györ, Hungary, will remain the central location for the company’s core production. Additional production lines will be returned to Europe from China.

As of press time, the takeover was currently awaiting approval by the German Federal Cartel Office. It was expected, however, that the plans will be found consistent with applicable legal norms, according to the release.