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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2005, a top German politician famously referred to private equity as a "plague of locusts," long predating U.S. political hostility toward the industry. Now, private equity is about to learn if German sentiment has softened.

Driving the news: At least four PE groups are vying to buy the elevator business of German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, with expectations that the deal value could top $20 billion.

  • Also bidding is Kone, a Finnish elevator maker whose CEO publicly chided private equity's interest in the unit before teaming up with CVC Capital Partners.

Why it matters: Yes, elevators are boring. But they're also vital to urban development and the sort of reliable cash generator that makes buyout barons salivate.

  • Thyssenkrupp is the world's fourth-largest maker of elevators and escalators, but is selling the profitable unit in order to shore up an otherwise-troubled balance sheet.

The big picture: There have been some large buyouts of German targets since the "locusts" comment, such as Bain Capital and Cinven buying generic drugmaker Stada for around €4 billion in 2017, but nothing close to the size of what's being discussed with Thyssenkrupp.

The outcome of this deal could determine how private equity is viewed in Germany, and perhaps even elsewhere in Europe, for years to come. Both by regulators and by other potential targets.

  • If successfully purchased and managed (by someone other than Kone), then "locusts" will become little more than a fun footnote.
  • But, if financially engineered in a callous and/or calamitous way, private equity's future in the country will suffocate from its own swarm.

Go deeper: U.S. private equity firms raised record $300 billion in funding in 2019

Go deeper

Elise Stefanik elected No. 3 House Republican after Liz Cheney ouster

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on May 12. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Republicans voted 134-46 in a secret ballot Friday to appoint Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as the chair of the GOP conference, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Why it matters: Stefanik's appointment underscores how important loyalty to former President Trump remains to the Republican Party.

Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.

Policy group lays groundwork for "net negative" emissions tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new policy roadmap provides Congress and the White House with ways to support the growth of methods to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using everything from existing forests to direct air capture machines.

Driving the news: Recent climate studies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5-degree report, have pointed to the clear need for society to pursue strategies for driving carbon emissions into negative territory by the latter half of the century.