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Germany

Germany

Advice for investors

Publication in Germany of a new guide to investing in renewable energy projects has raked up more dirt on a company purporting to be developing wind plant in eastern Germany using its own make of wind turbine. Stating that there are three main companies currently running renewables investment schemes in Germany, the guide gives details of two of them, but leaves the third, Hanseatische AG of Hamburg, shrouded in mystery.

The guide's author, Luc Bobikiewicz, writes of Hanseatische: "Due to recent developments, this chapter could not be published in the form originally planned. " He then refers readers to Gerlach-Report, a magazine published by the German Financial Services and Information Centre in Oberursel.

Gerlach Report has followed the activities of Hanseatische, a subsidiary of Euro Kapital, since the renewables company was founded in 1990, just after German unification. The magazine has warned against the type of investment offered by Hanseatische and is now embroiled in legal proceedings with the investment company. An article in the August 1993 issue of the consumer magazine, DM, sheds some light on the matter. It describes Hanseatische's investment method as "a snowball system." In such a system, above average profits paid to early investors do not come out of a project's earning, but out of the money put into the scheme by subsequent investors, states DM.

In the world of wind energy Hanseatische has already attracted legal proceedings. In sales literature available in 1992 it implied that it was manufacturing a wind turbine based on a design by Vestas of Denmark (Windpower Monthly, September 1992). In an angry response to this implication, Vestas German agent, Jörg Beland, categorically denied that Vestas had any business dealings with Hanseatische. He also said Vestas had initiated legal proceedings to prevent Hanseatische from releasing more of its sales material (Windpower Monthly, November 1992).

The main part of Luc Bobikiwicz's guide to investment in renewable energy is aimed at people wanting to do something more useful with their spare cash than stuffing it under the mattress or leaving it to stagnate in a savings account. The guide gives advice on what to look for in a renewables project prospectus and describes the various operator company structures. It also goes into the different forms of investment and contains an up-to-date overview of 29 German investment projects in the fields of solar, wind and hydro power generation.

Giving details of the two most active investment companies in the field, besides Hanseatische, the guide first goes into the workings of Gemeinnützige Kredit-Garantiegenossenschaft of Bochum, a community bank run according to anthropoligical principles. It then describes the activities of Beratungs Verwaltungs und Treuhandgesellschaft BVT, based in Munich. Surprisingly, Germany's only ecologically oriented bank, the Öko Bank of Frankfurt, is not among the renewable investment companies. It only provides an ecologicial security-based investment fund which does not stimulate investment in new projects.

The investment guide, in German, is titled Private Geldanlage in Sonne, Wind und Wasserkraft.

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