Tony Blair has rebuked German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for threatening to block Vodafone's bid for Mannesmann. Schroeder appeared to have forgotten the basic premise of European unity - non-regulation - by criticising Vodafone's £79 billion hostile bid for Mannesmann, saying it would destroy the "culture" of the German firm.
Schroeder had demanded restrictions be put in force to prevent the takeover and expressed concern over possible job losses. Tony Blair dismissed the hands-off warning, insisting that what was good for British companies is good for German ones. The takeover of British firm Rover by BMW has been cited as an example of the German's apparent hypocrisy.
Vodafone's hostile offer for Mannesmann - the largest hostile takeover bid in history - has drawn massive interest, mostly due to the bickering of the two companies' CEOs. An initial friendly offer was rejected out of hand and backed up by provocative gesturing. The two companies then retreated to their corners and came out fighting for shareholders' hearts and wallets.
Nationalistic headlines from the German press and now the intervention of leading politicians have raised the stakes even higher. How it will progress from here is anybody's guess, but whatever the outcome it should provide a fascinating view of how the market and politics interact with one another. ®