The German arable equipment manufacturer has experienced a few turbulent years. Purchased by the Grégoire-Besson Group in 2011, the French company filed for bankruptcy of Rabe in July 2019.
The facility and 200 staff at Bad Essen continued to operate as usual, but the future did not look good. Then, earlier this year a German newspaper reported that the Rabe name and factory had been purchased by ZWL Holding, a group of German/Asian investors.
The precise details will no doubt surface at some point, but according to our colleagues at profi.de, Zoomlion has acquired the 125-year old business, and the new Chinese owner plans to expand and modernise the manufacturing facility at Bad Essen.
Part of a plan to produce machines more efficiently, the new owner is also keen to explore new markets for Rabe equipment and increase the volumes. This includes China and at the country’s largest exhibition in Qingdao next month Rabe will be presented as a Zoomlion subsidiary to the Chinese market.
Our understanding is that new machine and spare part production has resumed. Finished with the traditional Raven logo, the paintwork has apparently changed to the more familiar darker Rabe blue.
Zoomlion’s construction division, one of the world’s largest, makes just about everything including concrete mixers, forklifts, earthmoving machines, fire-fighting equipment and cranes, while the agricultural division produces a complete range of machines in Asia ranging from tomato, rice and sugar cane harvesters to mowers, tedders, rakes and balers.
The company added Chinese-made tractors to the mix on a huge Zoomlion stand at the 2015 Agritechnica where senior management spoke of ambitious plans to become a European full-liner with tractors, combines and implements.
The company was not planning to ship Chinese-made arable kit to Europe, but buy a European manufacturer. In fact Chinese tractor maker Chery, which Zoomlion bought in 2014, was in the running to buy Kverneland before being pipped to the post by Kubota.
The goal five years ago at the Hanover Fairgrounds was for Zoomlion to have a full range of products on display by Agritechnica 2017. It all went ominously quiet when the show ended and Zoomlion never did make it to the 2017 and 2019 editions of the German show.
Behind the scenes, though, the Chinese company has clearly been waiting for the right opportunity. Perhaps Zoomlion has plans to surprise us at the next show in November 2021?