Berkshire Opens Door to Europe with Acquisition of Devlet Louis Motorradvertriebs

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

“Capital travels,” notes Warren Buffet, and Buffett’s recent comments that he was looking towards Europe for acquisitions has turned into reality with the purchase of Devlet Louis Motorradvertriebs, a mail-order and retail chain selling motorbike clothing, helmets, leisurewear, add-on parts, and spare parts.

The acquisition price was just over 400 million euros, according to the Financial Times.

The Hamburg, German-based retailer has 1,600 staff in their Europe-wide mail order business and at 70 retail stores in Germany and Austria. Its online business reaches 25 countries.

Annual revenues are 270 million euros ($308 million).

The deal was done directly with Ute Louis, the widow of company founder Detlev Louis, who sold all her shares to Berkshire.

Like many of Berkshire’s acquisitions, such as carbide metalworking tool manufacturer ISCAR, Berkshire was approached directly by Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs with the acquisition proposal. Berkshire is an attractive option for owners to cash out without their companies being sold off piecemeal.

High Customer Satisfaction

Devlet Louis Motorradvertriebs has drawn praise for its high customer satisfaction. The readers of Europe’s biggest motorbike magazine, Motorrad, have voted them “Best Brand” in the retail chain category for nine straight years.

Room for Growth

Motorcycles are a very popular form of transportation throughout Europe with 33 million PTWs (Powered Two Wheelers) registered in the 27 EU member states, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. They project that the number of two-wheeled vehicles will increase to 37 million by 2020.

“Germany is a terrific market, lots of people, lots of buying power, productive, it’s got a legal system we feel very good with, it’s got a regulatory system we feel very good with, it’s got people we feel very good with—and customers,” Warren Buffett explained in an interview in German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Buffett characterized the acquisition as a “door-opener,” and noted that while the 400 million euros size of the acquisition was smaller than Berkshire usually looks for (except for bolt-on acquisitions), this certainly serves notice on European companies that Berkshire has its eye on Europe as it hunts for ways to invest its over $30 billion in cash.

(This article has been updated from when it was first published.)

© 2015 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.