The Southeast is benefiting from the strength of the Deutsche mark as German firms explore investment opportunities here — a natural consequence of an “overvalued” mark and a recognition that the U.S. has “the best fundamentals in the world.”    

Heiko Thieme of Thieme Associates Inc., the controversial New York-based manager of the American Heritage mutual funds and columnist for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  newspaper, told members of the German American Chamber of Commerce for the Southeastern United States May 23 that the mark is “grossly overvalued” compared to the dollar and that the U.S. economy has “by far the best fundamentals in the world.”  He said that he expects the dollar to rise 10 to 12% against the mark by year’s end.

During an interview, Phil Quimby, the chamber’s marketing director, said that the strength of the mark is driving a new German investment boom in the Southeast.  “We’ve had more inquiries in the last few months than I’ve seen in my five years at the chamber,” said Mr. Quimby.  Many of the calls have been from traditional manufacturing industries, he added, with a smattering of high tech companies.

He also said that he has received calls from suppliers in the auto sector and that he expects “a couple of significant announcements in the next few months.”

According to Mr. Quimby,  professional managers who are replacing the family-member managers of Germany’s privately-owned, mid-size companies, are more likely to move their manufacturing facilities to regions that promise the most growth, including the Southeast U.S., Asia, Latin America or Eastern and Central Europe.

Mr. Thieme spoke at the J.W. Marriott at Lenox Square and he pointed to a number of potential high-growth areas for investors including Korea, Israel, Indonesia and Mexico, adding that “Russia has potential.”

Mr. Thieme may be reached by calling (212) 397-3900; fax (212) 397-4036.  To reach Mr. Quimby, call (404) 239-9493; fax (404) 264-1761.

                                                                  by James Keaten/Philip Campbell