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Appliance kickbacks under investigation

Two of Germany’s biggest appliance makers, Bosch and Siemens, may have provided illegal kickbacks to retailers willing to push their goods to customers, according to a report in the latest issue of Der Spiegel.

Appliance kickbacks under investigation
Photo: DPA

The allegations concern BSH, a joint venture between the German industrial giants, that sells household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and ranges. Last year, Munich-based BSH had 39,000 employees and revenues of €8.8 billion.

According to internal documents cited by Spiegel, BSH gave sales staff, including managers at large appliance retailers gift certificates good at retailer Karstadt or with travel agents TUI in exchange for pushing Bosch and Siemens products to customers.

The magazine says BSH spent more than €10 million a year on kickbacks and that the company’s top management, including CEO Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, was aware of the illegal practice.

The company confirmed Friday evening that Munich prosecutors were investigating its past marketing practices. A statement also said “possible unfair sales promotions practices from the past,” would be looked into by BSH’s internal compliance unit.

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BUSINESS

Germany’s BMW to put €1 billion into electric vehicles in Austria

German auto manufacturer BMW said on Monday it would invest "around one billion euros" in the production of electric vehicles at a plant in Austria from 2025.

Germany's BMW to put €1 billion into electric vehicles in Austria

Altogether, 600,000 units a year should roll off the line at the factory in Steyr under the investment plan, set to run until 2030, BMW said in a statement.

From 2025, BMW will “develop and produce the next generation of e-drives” at the Austrian site, BMW’s production chief Milan Nedeljkovic said.

The refurbishment of the plant will see two new production lines added and the location expanded by 60,000 square metres.

The new facilities would require €710 million in investment, while €230 million would be dedicated to boosting vehicle development at Steyr.

“Around half” the 4,400 employees at the site would be working on “e-mobility” by 2030, plant boss Alexander Susanek said.

The Bavarian manufacturer said it aimed to have two million electric vehicles on the road by 2025, promising 13 new electric models and a revamp of its Mini brand.

BMW has already said it will spend €400 million to upgrade its home factory in Munich to produce electric vehicles.

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