The Guardian, November 12, 2012
German tax investigators on Monday carried out searches of hundreds of clients of Swiss bank UBS on suspicion of tax evasion. The raids, carried out by around 50 tax investigators across the country, were ordered by the state prosecutor’s office in the city of Bochum.
“There is an investigation into several hundred domestic customers of the Swiss bank UBS on suspicion of tax evasion,” spokesman Norbert Salamon said.
Prosecutors based their investigation on data contained on a computer disk purchased by the authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Bochum is situated. The finance ministry in the state, which is ruled by the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, has purchased a total of six CDs since 2010 in order to track down tax evaders. Continue reading
The Guardian, July 27, 2012
The idea that Germany could somehow emerge from the current economic crisis unscathed has proved illusory. Europe‘s industrial powerhouse is now feeling the effects of the economic crisis, particularly in its export-driven sector.
A slew of household names, including Siemens, BASF and Puma, has had bad news to announce this week.
On Thursday, engineering giant Siemens announced that orders were drying up, saying it would make it “more difficult” to reach annual targets that it had already cut in April.
Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/27/germany-eurozone-crisis-business-slowdown
CNBC Business Magazine, May 2012 Issue (Cover Story)
A Berlin eyewear company dedicated to innovation and tradition has become the darling of the über-cool
At first glance the business occupying four floors of an ex-blacksmith’s in the heart of the former East Berlin could be yet another trendy tech start-up. As well as the obligatory foosball game, there are benches and a long table for communal lunches, and hundreds of Polaroids of its hipster employees line the walls in a blur of piercings, tattoos and beanies.
Yet on closer inspection something more interesting is going on inside. Grouped around work surfaces, men and women are carefully assembling thousands of pairs of glasses by hand.
This is the red-brick nerve centre of the über-fashionable MYKITA eyewear company, established in 2003 and a fixture on catwalks worldwide, not to mention a favourite of Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Founded by four young men from the small German city of Oldenburg, last year it had a turnover of €16m and sold more than 160,000 frames – every one produced in the so-called MYKITA Haus. “From the beginning our products were based on cutting-edge technology coupled with traditional hand assembly,” says CEO and creative director Moritz Krueger, who at 32 is the company’s youngest founder.
The original product was the brainchild of Philipp Haffmans and Harald Gottschling, who met while studying industrial design. Working on a project at Berlin University of the Arts, they hit upon the idea of making glasses based on the Japanese art of origami. Rolling the end of the frames into a spiral, and clicking it together with a spiral or coil on the temple, they produced hinges that had no need for soldering or screws. Enamoured with this design, they decided to form a business, bringing Krueger and Haffmans’ architect brother Daniel on board as partners and setting up shop in a former kindergarten known colloquially as ‘kita’ – hence the German-English hybrid name MYKITA. Continue reading
CNBC Business Magazine, March 2012 Issue (Cover Story)
In the micro-multinational age, the agile are poised to inherit the earth
When Jevgenijs Kazanins walked into a hackathon in Riga last March, he just wanted to solve a problem that was bugging him at work. Two days later, he walked out a proto-entrepreneur.
The 29-year-old Latvian media planner had been looking for a software tool that would help him assess the effectiveness of campaigns on social media. He and others attending the Garage48 workshop made a prototype and in the process formed the nucleus of an analytics software company. A year on, Campalyst is based in Estonia, the UK and the US, and is working with several big media and creative agencies in Finland and the UK.
Campalyst is one of the ‘micro-multinationals’ that have emerged over the past few years. With global aspirations from the get-go, enabled by communication technologies, they can set up shop anywhere. “Small is an asset,” says Anne Mettler, executive director of the Lisbon Council think tank, who recently co-authored a policy paper on them. “It means you’re able to respond to consumer needs very quickly. You can be agile without the bureaucracy.” Today’s start-ups will never grow into conglomerates with a staff of 100,000, she adds. “That traditional path is over. It’s ineffective.” Continue reading
CNBC Business Magazine, Sept 1, 2011
Half a century after the first ‘guest workers’ arrived, entrepreneurs in the Turkish community are playing a vital role in Germany’s economic success
When Mehmet Aygün arrived in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district in the 1970s he worked in a fast-food restaurant and dreamed of setting up his own business. Now he’s in charge of an empire, running both the Hasir restaurant chain in Berlin and Titanic Resorts and Hotels, which has properties in Turkey and Germany.
With the 50th anniversary of Germany’s guest worker agreement with Turkey approaching, most headlines focus on the challenges of integration. Yet there are also numerous success stories, such as Aygün’s, that point to a thriving Turkish-German entrepreneurial culture.
Some 650,000 Turks came to West Germany in the decade or more that followed the labour recruitment agreement signed in October 1961. And while the influx of low-skilled workers required for the country’s booming post-war industry was halted in 1973 by the recession that followed the oil crisis, the so-called ‘guest workers’ had already started bringing family members over.
While most had initially planned to stay for just a few years, the majority eventually began to settle down and put down roots. The community is now thought to be around 3.5 million strong, the largest ethnic minority in the country.
According to Andreas Goldberg, director of the Centre for Turkish Studies (ZfT) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, those with Turkish roots are more likely than ethnic Germans to be self-employed. Indeed, the ZfT estimates there are more than 80,000 Turkish-German businesses, employing at least 300,000 people, and with an average annual turnover of around €450,000. Continue reading
CNBC Business, 1 July, 2011
With its cheap rents and hot nightlife, the German capital is a magnet for young techies. But can it create global businesses, asks Siobhán Dowling
It wasn’t hard for Juha Lindell to decide to move to the German capital last October. After all, “Berlin is the coolest city in Europe, if not the whole world,” he says. Yet that wasn’t the only thing that drew the 29-year-old Finn to the city. A tall blond in a T-shirt and sneakers, he may look like something of a hipster, but his intention wasn’t just to hang out in clubs, play in a band or make art in a loft. Instead, he is one of the thousands of young IT professionals who have thronged to the city to become part of its thriving start-up scene.
Lindell was recruited by Wooga, Europe’s leading social games company, to work as a product manager and says he jumped at the opportunity “to join a company with big ambitions”. But it’s far from unique in that respect. The city is fast becoming a major centre for gaming, e-commerce and other hi-tech firms, leading some to dub it the new Silicon Valley. In many ways, Wooga epitomises the dynamic edge and ambition that is making the city an IT hub. Two years after it was founded, it is poised to become a global player in its field, with the fourth-highest number of monthly active users on Facebook.
The fact that it enjoys this position is in many ways thanks to a series of factors that are helping to make Berlin such a paradise for start-ups: a cosmopolitan array of young, multilingual skilled workers, swathes of cheap, attractive, post-industrial office space, supportive public agencies, a good infrastructure and growing interest from foreign venture capital. Christoph Lang of Berlin Partner, the city’s business promotion agency, says that one or two tech companies are being formed every week. “It is developing into one of the most important locations for IT companies not just in Germany but in Europe.” Continue reading