The New Green Warriors, CO2 Neutral
Germany’s largest defense contractor is U.S.-owned — and it produces “eco-friendly mobility,” Werner Rügemer writes.
The German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall already served Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler lucratively in WW1 and WW2. In the Federal Republic of Germany with the founding chancellor Konrad Adenauer, it rose again with U.S. help: He produced for the U.S. war against Korea. Today, it produces tracked armored vehicles, air defense and unmanned aerial systems, submarine equipment, military propulsion systems, including turret systems, large- and medium-caliber weapons and ammunition for the “Leopard” main battle tank and other tanks. The Group is also now developing its own KFS1 “Panther” tank. Production is for Ukraine, but since some time the global arms business is flourishing on all continents with the U.S. military.
“A company of environmentally friendly mobility”
Publicly, as on its website, Rheinmetall does not talk about armaments at all. The armaments group does not produce any armaments at all. Instead, it says: “Rheinmetall is an integrated technology group for environmentally friendly mobility.
And what does such a group do? It develops “innovative solutions for a safe and livable future”. And Rheinmetall promises: By 2035 we will be “CO 2-neutral”! On the stock exchange, Rheinmetall is hidden under the heading “Industrial Goods”.
Thus, the corporation is a peace operator of the new capitalist kind. Outwardly painted green, environmentally friendly, sustainable and innovative, turned towards a future worth living: Down to the last Ukrainian soldier! Wait, there is something missing: The Ukrainian army is oriented to Western values, so also: To the last Ukrainian female soldier!
Only nameless and “unidentified” shareholders
In addition to the green-painted company, there is the most important feature: the “German” arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is not German at all. It is largely owned by U.S. investors. But this is not stated anywhere on the group’s website or in its annual reports. Officially, Rheinmetall presents its owners as nameless.
Thus, the Group anonymously summarizes its shareholders as a number under “institutional shareholders.” According to the last published annual report 2021, most of these anonymous come from the U.S., namely 42. Then follow 23 of these anonymous from “Europe” and three from the “rest of the world,” making a total of 68 nameless.
And these 68 nameless people are followed by 31 other shareholders who still appear or disappear under other forms of namelessness. It starts with 17 “private shareholders.” Then three shareholders are listed as “other shareholders”, also nameless. And then there are eleven shareholders: they again form a category of their own and are referred to as “unidentified.” “Unidentified” shareholder — revealing labeling, isn’t it? That violates German stock corporation law. But again, the German Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t notice.
That’s what “conspiracy theorists” have to explain to us now, or better yet, conspiracy practitioners, right? And are citizens at peace demonstrations now also allowed to identify themselves as “other” citizens, as “private citizens” or as “unidentified” citizens?
Rheinmetall owned by leading U.S. investors
But the largest ten shareholders are easy to identify, from stock market sources: Nine of the ten largest Rheinmetall shareholders are based in the USA. Their names are, in this order: Harris Associates, Wellington, Capital World, Fidelity, LSV, Vanguard, BlackRock, Dimensional, BKF. They are among the largest capital organizers in U.S.-led capitalism. Only Norges, the largest sovereign wealth fund financed by Norwegian oil, is the only non-U.S. shareholder. Otherwise in Germany, BlackRock & Co. are also the leading shareholders of all important companies and banks, for example at Bayer, BASF, Siemens, Deutsche Bank. But there are also a few other shareholders from Germany, Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait or China — but none of them at Rheinmetall.
This U.S. dominance, however, is further increased. Most of these Rheinmetall shareholders are also intertwined. But that’s not enough: At the same time, the aforementioned shareholders Capital, Fidelity, Vanguard, Dimensional and BlackRock, as well as other U.S. investors such as John Hancock and SEI, have additional stakes in Rheinmetall through smaller special funds. Capital’s fund, for example, is called Europacific Growth Fund.
Nameless super-rich clients of BlackRock & Co.
Wellington, BlackRock, Capital & Co. pass on the bulk of Rheinmetall’s profits to their super-rich capital providers.
Wellington has 5.09 percent of Rheinmetall shares. They are currently worth about 500 million euros. Wellington got the capital to buy these shares from about 115 super-rich capital providers. Wellington manages their capital and transfers their annual Rheinmetall profits — after deducting a fee — to shell companies in financial havens on their behalf. In this way, the investors are rendered nameless and faceless, depersonalized. On the Caribbean Cayman Islands, for example, the letterbox companies High Haith Investors (Cayman) II Ltd, Strategies Master Fund (Cayman) L.P. and Elbe Investors (Cayman) as well as Wellington Management Hong Kong Ltd. serve as anonymous constructs.
BlackRock has 8.28 percent of the group’s shares. They are worth about 800 million euros. BlackRock got the capital to buy these shares from about 155 super-rich investors. The shell companies to which the profits of these depersonalized super-rich are transferred are called, for example, BlackRock Jersey International Holdings L.P. on the British Channel Island of Jersey, SAE Liquidity Fund on the Cayman Islands and BlackRock Luxembourg Holdco in Luxembourg, the leading financial haven in the European Union.
In this way, the clandestine armament and war profiteers are made unrecognizable to the public, the tax offices and the financial supervisory authorities. The tax evasion made possible by this impoverishes the states, which spend more and more money on rearmament and on wars such as in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and thus become even more over-indebted.
Is a party represented in the German parliament and in the U.S. Congress brave enough to at least ask a parliamentary question about organized tax evasion and other activities of Rheinmetall shareholders?
Approved under German co-determination law
Various German pappnasen ensure that everything retains its traditional German appearance. Well paid they populate the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. Unlike the shareholders, they are all named in the annual report.
The Chairman of the Management Board is Armin Pappberger (Chief Executive Officer). Other members of the Management Board: Dagmar Steinen (Chief Financial Officer & Director), Michael Salzmann (Chief Compliance Officer), Philipp von Brandenstein (Head Corporate Communication), Peter-Sebastian Krause (Member Management Board), Drik Winkels (Head Investor Relations) and Dr. Rolf Giebeler (General Counsel).
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is Dipl.Kfm. Ulrich Grillo, head of Grillo-Werke and Rheinzink GmbH and still a member of the Supervisory Board of the energy group Eon. The other members on the capital side: Prof. Dr. Susanne Hannemann/University Bochum and the Chairman of “Pfeiffer Vacuum Technologie,” Dr. Britta Giesen, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Sahin Albayrak/Technical University Berlin and Prof. Dr. Andreas Georgi/University of Munich. Dr. Ing. Klaus Dräger comes from the BMW Board of Management, and ex-CDU Defense Minister Dr. Franz-Josef Jung also fits the bill. Academic titles galore, all serious, right?
Unions and works councils are also represented on the Supervisory Board in equal numbers. So there’s no union-busting at Rheinmetall, which is common in many other companies and U.S. corporations in Germany like Amazon: BlackRock, Wellington & Co. are also the leading shareholders there. But curious, isn’t it? At Rheinmetall in particular, there’s German co-determination in its best form.
A borderless and lawless corporation
“We are everywhere in the world” — this Rheinmetall motto follows the owner-state USA. Even if the U.S. military does not conduct wars, maneuvers and special operations, it is permanently active worldwide with 857 bases outside the U.S., in ten NATO states like Germany, in annexed and seceded territories like Hawaii, Guantanamo, Guam, Kosovo and dozens of other states and territories, with cruisers, aircraft carriers and submarines, transports and fighter jets, bombers, drones, satellites, tanks, jeeps, trucks.
For timely and local delivery, Rheinmetall says it operates 133 locations in 33 countries: 42 sites in Germany and another 45 in Europe. With the declaration of hostility against China under U.S. President Barack Obama, Americanization continued. To date, Rheinmetall has developed 18 sites in Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. In 2014, Rheinmetall brought in the former German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel (FDP), as an advisor: since then, branches have also been established in South Africa, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Rheinmetall has experience of circumventing arms export controls under permanent Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example through branches in other countries such as the USA, Italy and Austria. But now global supply goes without borders anyway.
European arms companies in the U.S. alliance
In America, Rheinmetall operates 15 sites — ten of them in the USA, more than in any other country outside Germany.
This is where technical innovation is driven: American Rheinmetall Vehicles (ARV) has worked with Allison Transmission to develop the eGenForce electric drive system for the new generation of the U.S. Abrams main battle tank: The engine can be switched to green CO2-free propulsion if required, then makes no noise, emits no heat and is harder to detect by enemy drones.
At the same time, Rheinmetall has become a key partner of another U.S. defence company: together with Lockheed, Rheinmetall is now building the 6.5-meter-long center section between the cockpit and the tail of the F-35 fighter jet: the German Ministry of Defense has ordered 35 of them on the occasion of the Ukraine war, for the first time. Rheinmetall is thus expanding its order volume. The calculation on both the German and U.S. sides is also to get more European NATO members to give up their own fighter jets in favor of buying the super-expensive U.S. stealth fighter.
Rheinmetall shareholders BlackRock & Co are also leading shareholders in major EU defense contractors like Leonardo (Italy) and BAE Systems (UK) and of course in the U.S. top ten like Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon. And in addition, BlackRock is present with two managers in the U.S. government and thus also a political war party — as already in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine.
Ukraine: Profitable proxy war
Rheinmetall has accelerated its rise for the Ukraine war. In 2021, the Spanish ammunition manufacturer Expal was bought. A new factory is being built in Hungary. Cooperative ventures with the two U.S. defence groups were added. CEO Pappberger is demanding new orders from the German government for the German armed forces and expects additional orders also for the USA and its military alliances intensified in Asia.
The “German” Rheinmetall Group is an integral part of U.S. policy. Of course, Rheinmetall with Leonardo and Lockheed together with the Climate Neutrality Foundation/Climate Imperative Foundation (USA) were among the sponsors of the Munich Security Conference in February 2023: Armaments and wars now serve the “environment”.
The corrupt, over-indebted and already before the war completely impoverished Ukraine leads for the USA the long prepared proxy war against Russia. Since 2022, BlackRock is the official advisor to the Ukrainian government for the “reconstruction” of the country: The longer the war lasts and the more Ukrainian servicemen and women are killed, the more lucrative it becomes — since 2014, tens of thousands of them have been sacrificial offerings on the altar of “Western values”.