As the manufacturer of the Wiesel tank and the Fuchs transporter, the Rheinmetall company has long been considered the pearl of the German defense industry. But the prospect that the biggest single block of shares in the company could be sold to American firms has upset politicians in Berlin, who are keen to keep the company's tank-building know-how in Germany. News reports in the country's leading financial dailies this week have stated that the company's main shareholder, the Röchling family, is seeking a buyer for its 42-percent interest in the defense contractor. Under a new law passed in July, any German defense contractor seeking to sell 25 percent or more of its shares to a foreign company must obtain approval from the Economics Ministry in Berlin. "A sale of these shares would not be in Germany's interest," Hans-Peter Bartels, the defense policy spokesman for the Social Democrats' parliamentary group told the
Handelsblatt newspaper. However, members of the opposition Christian Democratic Union have warned the government against blocking a sale of the share's if an American buyer expresses interest, saying it might discourage foreign investment in Germany.