Suddenly friends

Vonovia boss Rolf Buch has already tried to take over competitor Deutsche Wohnen. Its boss Michael Zahn thought that was “destructive” at the time. Today he sees it differently.

Vonovia CEO Rolf Buch (left) and Michael Zahn, CEO of Deutsche Wohnen, at the end of a press conference in the Rotes Rathaus

NNot every rivalry has to last forever, some bitter opponents even develop into business friends if the circumstances are right. Rolf Buch, the CEO of the Bochum housing company Vonovia, and Michael Zahn, head of the Berlin real estate group Deutsche Wohnen, fought hard over the Whitsun days, but they acted quite tame when they presented the merger plans. “Michael can answer that better,” said Buch in the telephone press conference on Tuesday, consideration and giving way was the order of the day.

In 2015 it sounded very different when Vonovia wanted to swallow the competitor in a hostile takeover for 14 billion euros. Zahn found the purchase price too low at the time, the offer was “destructive” and the synergy potential of 80 million euros “impossible”. The shareholders followed the reading and served Vonovia less than a third of their shares. Vonovia’s renewed offer to pay more than 18 billion euros for the shares in Deutsche Wohnen is now well received by the management and supervisory boards of the Berlin housing group. They expressly recommend the transaction to their shareholders.