GlobalFax has learned that officials of the Southern Co. and Berlin’s economic development authority signed an agreement in Atlanta last week to help Berlin attract European headquarters of U.S. companies, help with matchmaking between German and U.S. companies and mutually assist each other on development issues.

      We always are looking to find ways to hook up companies and assist with the economic development of wherever we are, T. J. (Tom) Allen, director of Southern Energy Inc., Southern Co.’s development arm, said in an interview.

      The Berlin economic development officials were among a high level delegation, including the city’s mayor, Eberhard Diepgen, visiting Atlanta to promote business ties between the two cities. 

      Mr. Diepgen told GlobalFax that he visited with officials from Coca-Cola, CNN, Delta Air Lines as well as Southern Co. to underline Berlin’s increasing importance in Europe.

      Berlin now even surpasses London as a headquarters location, he said, because of its central position on the continent as Europe’s economy increasingly is involved with Central and Eastern European countries.

      He also pointed to the relocation of the parliament and government bureaucracies to Berlin and the construction of a new international airport as added incentives for U.S. companies to establish a presence there.

      According to Mr. Diepgen, environmental, media, medical and a variety of software companies were among the sorts of firms that would find opportunities in Berlin.

      More specifically, he added that he would like to see Coke move its headquarters to Berlin from Essen and Delta establish direct flights between Berlin and Atlanta.

      CNN, he added, also should consider opening an office in the city particularly in view of its access to Central and Eastern European countries and its new importance as a governmental center.

      He was accompanied by Dietman Winje, the chief executive of Bewag, Berlin’s electric utility, 26% of which was purchased by Southern Co. last year.  Officials from Berlin’s airport and economic development authority along with a half dozen journalists also participated.

      For more information about the agreement, Mr. Allen may be reached by calling (770) 821-7171; fax, (770) 821-7726.  His E-mail address is