Germany Renationalizes Debt-Ridden Federal Printing Office | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 11.09.2008
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Germany Renationalizes Debt-Ridden Federal Printing Office

The German government is to renationalize the Federal Printing Office, printer of banknotes, ID cards and passports for Germany and international clients, since it has fallen into debt after privatization in 1994.

Stacks of freshly printed 50-euro notes at the Federal Printing Office

The German government reportedly wanted to keep the firm from foreign acquisition

In a statement on Tuesday Sept. 9 the Federal Printing Office said that it was to return to state ownership “in the interests of national security.”

After becoming privatized in 2004, the national mint was sold for one billion euros ($1.4 billion) to the US-British private investors Apax during Schroeder's chancellery.

The company was later driven close to bankruptcy due to a subsidiary that was making chip cards.

A “profitable company”

After major restructuring the Federal Printing Office is now a “profitable company” according to the statement, and a number of companies had registered interest in acquiring the firm. One bid came from the Munich-based printing company Giesecke and Devrient.

“From our point of view a great chance has not been realized,” A speaker for G&D said.

Other companies rumored to be interested were French technology firm Sagem and the US group 3M, but according to press reports the government did not want the printing office to go to foreign ownership.

The decision to renationalize the 129-year-old company was welcomed by most of the 1,300 personnel, and by management and employees alike.

The state has already given the Federal Printing office the lucrative contract of printing the new electronically readable passports and the company has announced plans for a new production plant in Berlin costing up to 50 million euros ($69.5 million).

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