A column by Marco Fuchs: thoughts about time and space

"I am convinced that with KKR we have found the ideal partner to bring us a big step forward on our way becoming the European Space Champion"

7 August 2023. In Europe, we have been dealing for quite some time with the question of how we want to conduct space travel in the future and how Europe can prove itself in international comparison.
The truth is, that to obtain a secured and independent access to space, we need a strengthened and independent Europe within the aerospace industry. For the European industry, this is indispensable if we want to participate in the space boom.

Simultaneously, the strategic importance of space has become an irrefutable political reality in the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. With a space-savvy adversary, the requirements for military space infrastructure have also changed fundamentally in an abrupt manner. These circumstances must also be reflected by the industrial installation/development.

The space industry has always been characterized by enormous capital requirements. Space is the technology of the future, requiring continuous technical innovations and developments at the edge of what is possible, while the current market environment is in a state of radical upheaval. New industrial players around the world, an increasing demand for services and a rapidly progressing diversification of the customer base are changing the industry.

We want to maintain a leading position in a changing industry

To remain competitive in the long term as a privately held family business, we need to attract the brightest talent, (pre-)finance long development phases, and at the same time pursue investment in our own growth. Our company’s strategy “OHB 2025 – Shaping the future” is the reflection of what OHB wants to achieve in the future – and that is a lot. Our strategy pursues various development steps in all three business units Space Systems, Aerospace and Digital to meet the global challenges facing our industry.

Strengthening OHB as an independent, European company

All these strategic goals require a sustainable capital base as a foundation for implementation. After the IPO in March 2001, we have consistently funded the necessary investments from our ongoing business. The zero-interest rate policy has also contributed to the fact that we have always managed our growth from within. Now we would like to open a new chapter and for this reason we, the Fuchs Family, and the Management Board of OHB, expressly welcome KKR's offer. KKR will subscribe to a capital increase of 10 % in OHB SE, thus enabling us to invest in important future areas. Separately, KKR will make a direct investment of EUR 30 million in the further development of the Rocket Factory Augsburg AG which will pave the way for the successful first flight of the microlauncher RFA One. It is important for me to emphasize that OHB will remain an independent German family business. My family and I will continue to hold the majority of the shares in OHB and thus retain permanent control of the company. OHB will continue to be managed by me and the existing management team.

From a financial perspective the transaction includes a public takeover offer by KKR for all OHB shares. The Fuchs family will not sell any shares. We consider the offer to be very attractive as it provides existing shareholders with immediate liquidity and the opportunity to realise long-term value potential in advance. OHB will subsequently seek delisting from the stock exchange to facilitate our implementation of the long-term strategy as a privately held company.

Ensuring our employees attractive development opportunities

Nevertheless, a strong capital base is not everything. Implementing the growth strategy also requires a high degree of discipline. Efficiency enhancements and process improvements are key drivers of our sustained success.  
We see our people at OHB at the center of these changes. We will need energetic hands and bright minds for this new chapter as well, people who are motivated and ambitious, who think entrepreneurially and assume responsibility for complex and fascinating projects. With the entry of KKR as a long-term oriented minority investor, we are creating the conditions for continuing to offer our employees attractive prospects and development opportunities.

An important signal for the European space industry

I am convinced that we have found an ideal partner in the renowned global investment firm KKR. The fresh capital combined with our innovative strength will not only continue OHB’s successful history; we have always perceived ourselves as a partner to our customers, and particularly our institutional customers in Europe benefit from a strong, innovative, technologically adept space company. We have the ambition to become the European Space Champion and want to offer new opportunities for customers and partners by expanding our technological top positions in the core competencies as an infrastructure partner and in the service area, thereby being able to serve the institutional and commercial market. This can only be achieved if we all work together to do what drives us every day: We.Create.Space.

Personal details:

Born in 1962, Marco Fuchs studied law in Berlin, Hamburg and New York. He worked as an attorney in New York and Frankfurt am Main from 1992 to 1995. In 1995, he joined OHB, the company that his parents had built up. He has been Chief Executive Officer of OHB SE since 2000 and of OHB System AG since 2011. Marco Fuchs is married and has two children.