Dortmund/Munich. Last Tuesday, the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (OA) sent out an invitation to the conference “Focus Eastern Europe – Business in Conversation” in Munich. After the welcome by Burkhard Dahmen (CEO of the SMS Holding GmbH and board member of the Committee), keynote speeches from Abdulla Aripov, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan and Ilse Aigner, the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Media, Energy and Technology, set the backdrop for a panel discussion on the topic of “Economy between politics and the market”. Oliver Hermes, CEO of WILO SE, debated and discussed the opportunities and risks of the business activity in Eastern European countries and Eurasia together with the other CEOs and board members. In the run-up to this, Oliver Hermes met the Kazakhstan Minister for Investment and Development, Zhenis Kassymbek, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Germany, Bolat Nussupov, for bilateral talks.
A high-ranking panel from finance and industry
The panel of six Managing Directors and CEOs was filled with high-calibre candidates. From the financial sector, Dr Alexander Protsenko (Allianz SE) and Jörg Bongartz (Deutsche Bank AG), and from the manufacturing sector – besides Oliver Hermes and Burkhard Dahmen (SMS Holding GmbH) – there was also Manfred Grundke (Knauf group) and Dr Martin Herrenknecht (Herrenknecht AG) reporting about their experiences in the Eastern European markets.
Strengthening localisation in Eastern European countries too
This massive region, which is being discussed, stretches from the east of Russia across the Eurasian region and the Balkans right to the European part of Turkey. Oliver Hermes focussed on the localisation strategy of Wilo: “The opening of the new plant in Moscow in June last year sent a clear signal regarding our involvement in Russia and in the Eurasian Economic Area.” Wilo has also invested in the building of a new representative office in Kazakhstan, in order to sustainably support the development in Central Asia. An additional commitment in Romania is planned to further strengthen Wilo’s presence in the Balkan region. The development of these activities is positive: “Despite the currently challenging macro-economic environment we have managed to continue to grow in the region,” said Hermes. Generally speaking, Wilo sees an economic upturn in the Eastern Europe region in countries like Poland, for example, as having a positive impact on our own business segment. However, to maintain this trend sustainably and over the long term, it will be necessary not just to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles but also to improve the general framework for training and advanced training as well as to promote qualified personnel in a targeted way.