By Christian Ollig Sep 02, 2021

Three years ago, we opened our first office in Germany - a logical step after almost 20 years of continuous commitment to the German-speaking region. Since then, we have forged even further ahead, expanding our investment activity in the region and strengthening our team. Our local presence has also enabled us to continue investing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to collaborate closely with our portfolio companies during this unprecedented time.

Germany is one of the most important countries in Europe for KKR, as evidenced by the numbers. Since 1999, KKR has invested more than 11 billion euros in long-term equity in 29 companies in the DACH region. In addition, 39 of KKR's global portfolio companies also operate in Germany, employing more than 33,000 people in the country.1

Investing behind macro themes in Germany

The European market is as diverse as the continent itself. The different cultures, languages, customer preferences and brands create a complex environment in which KKR can use its expertise, global network and resources to support our companies. Within Europe, Germany is a particularly attractive market for investment; we see a unique combination of innovative strength, political and economic stability, and many strong medium-sized companies that constitute the famous Mittelstand. Our experience has also shown that major European trends are particularly evident in Germany, where we see the growing prominence of the topics of ESG, healthcare and, of course, digitalization.

The core of Germany's success is its industrial expertise. To further build on this strength in the future, we need to digitize industrial production. Many German companies have made great progress in this area over the past ten years, but there is still work to be done. Against this backdrop, there are also opportunities for us to invest in companies with business models that drive solutions to societal challenges, helping deliver positive impact and shaping this change in the future.

Strong partnerships with entrepreneurs, founding families and management teams are particularly important in this regard. This is a key component of our philosophy and what we stand for as an investor; we want to support companies with resources that go beyond providing capital. In 2019, for example, the owner family of media company Axel Springer and its management team around CEO Mathias Döpfner brought KKR on board as shareholders in Axel Springer to further shape the company's transformation from a print-only publishing house to a leading digital media and technology company by investing in strategic growth areas. More broadly, we continue to focus on companies with outstanding business models and growth prospects, such as Deutsche Glasfaser, GetYourGuide, GfK, Hensoldt, Leonine Studios, SoftwareOne, Unzer or Wella.

Another example is Hensoldt. After our investment in the company in 2016 and the full carve-out from Airbus in 2018, we worked seamlessly with the management team to position the company as a European market leader in sensor solutions. Together with the management, we have successfully generated a new growth momentum that we further accelerated by strategic acquisitions. At the same time, we were able to create 400 new jobs, increasing the number of employees by more than 30 percent. Soon after the successful IPO in September 2020, Hensoldt was promoted to the SDAX, where it is now a well-established member. With full order books and a unique capacity for innovation, the company is well positioned for sustainable growth in the future. It is examples like these that show how working together in partnership can maximize benefits for the company, its employees, and the region.

A growing and diverse team on the ground in Germany

These achievements are only possible with a strong team on the ground. We now have a team of more than ten professionals in Germany. Our new hires since opening our office not only demonstrate our ambition to expand our footprint in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also to attract and retain the best talent. The recent hires of Laura Schröder and Steven Bayly have once again highlighted the strength of our brand as an employer in the German private equity market.

We want to continue to grow in Germany. To achieve this, we are continuously investing in our team. We are particularly proud that more than half of our investment team in Germany is female, reflecting our overall efforts in Europe where around 50 percent of the new hires in the European private equity team in the last three years have been female. We are convinced that employees with different backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experience strengthen our teams and help us make better investment decisions.

1. All figures as of December 31st 2020