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SMEs in Germany

Searching for pearls


of all German companies are SMEs, according to BVMW data. That’s a total of 3.5 million companies.


of German SMEs are family-run businesses. 88% are owner-managed.


owner-managed German companies need successors by 2026, according to IfM Bonn estimates.



Valued at EUR 180 billion, Vodafone’s takeover of Mannesmann in 2000 is the largest acquisition in the world to date.



Close to a new record

According to a PwC study, 1,696 M&A deals were made in the German-speaking region in the first half of 2021 in transactions valued at around EUR 73.6 billion.


Network success

The Hanseatic merchant

Back in the late Middle Ages, traders realized that the risk of merchants trading alone was simply too high. Instead, merchants in the 14th and 15th centuries joined together to form trading alliances – at the same time retaining their independence as entrepreneurs. Equipped with higher capital and with shared risk, they were able to successfully tackle larger-scale and international projects.


Successful Hanseatic merchant in Upper German trade: Mathias Mulich (1470–1528)

Strong alone?

Legendary rivalries

Acquisitions, mergers and takeovers are a well-proven way of maintaining success on the market. But rivalries can also energize the market …


Investor focus


German companies in the technology sector were most sought-after by investors in 2020 (32%), followed by companies in the industrial production sector (23%).


Family-run businesses

With tradition

The oldest family-run business ever listed by the Family Business Foundation is a metal company in Siegen, Germany – galvanizing specialists The Coatinc Company. Records state that the company was founded in 1502. Back then, the blacksmith Heylmann Dresseler had to pay one shilling for the use of a furnace.

On the list of the 50 oldest German family-run companies, 48 were founded before the French Revolution in 1789 and all of them have remained in the hands of the founding families throughout their histories.


Auf der Liste der 50 ältesten deutschen Familienunternehmen wurden 48 schon vor der Französischen Revolution 1789 gegründet und alle sind ununterbrochen in der Hand der Gründerfamilie geblieben.

Experts in their fields

Sector distribution of
German hidden champions