Berlin provides an excellent strategic base from which a U.S. company can develop a presence throughout Europe including Eastern Europe, according to Dietmar Winje, CEO of Bewag, Berlin’s electric utility.

      We would like to help companies from the South enter these new markets, Dr. Winje told GlobalFax while visiting Atlanta last week.  We know the markets in Western and Eastern Europe…and Berlin will be a major capital, if not ‘the’ capital of continental Europe at least in the long term.

      Dr. Winje, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to Atlanta to visit the Southern Co., which acquired 26% of Bewag’s stock last year.  He was accompanied by 10 journalists from Berlin who also were interested in learning more about Southern which owns utilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

      He said that Bewag’s management felt positively about Southern’s stock acquisition from the beginning.  The initial concern on the part of the Berlin press that the company was making only a short-term investment, he added, was allayed by the company’s interest in expanding its presence into Eastern Europe.

      We will be a help to Southern Co. growing in the eastern part of Europe, he said.

      For 45 years, Bewag supplied only West Berlin, but is now the supplier for the entire city.  Although Bewag does not supply electricity outside of Berlin, it does own shares in a variety of companies in the eastern parts of Germany.

      In coming weeks, he added, the German utility market will undergo deregulation and Bewag should benefit from Southern Co.’s wide ranging experience in entering new markets around the world.  He also said that Southern Co. should be able to provide advice on marketing and other competitive practices.

      For more information about the visit, call the German Consulate General at (404) 659-4760; fax, (404) 659-1280.

      by Mark Pierson