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Business

German companies win big at South Africa 2010

Billions of euros have been made from the World Cup, with German companies among the big winners. Now they're hoping their work on South Africa projects will translate into success for their Brazil 2014 project bids.

Image of Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

The pigment of the stadium facade is "made in Germany"

Everyone who watched the opening ceremony and opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on June 11 now knows that Soccer City isn't a town but a stadium. But what most fans probably still don't know is the huge role German companies played in building this stadium and the other venues.

"The World Cup is a 'big deal,'" said Heiko Schwiderowski from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. "German companies are undertaking a load of projects. We estimate around 1.5 billion euros (1.8 billion dollars) worth, creating and securing 15,000 jobs in Germany."

German companies cash in

The Soccer City stadium, shaped like a traditional drinking pot, is full of products and materials "made in Germany." The Lanxess chemicals and plastics facility in Krefeld, for instance, supplied the seats and pigment for the color of the stadium facade, in addition to other building materials.

Image of Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Osram privided most of the lighting for the 10 World Cup stadiums

Lanxess isn't the only company in Germany to profit from World Cup stadium projects. Osram, a subsidiary of German electronics and engineering giant Siemens, delivered most of the lighting systems to all 10 stadiums hosting the games.

In fact, the 15,000 LED lights, which adorned the arch over Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban seen during the evening match between Germany and Australia on Sunday, were made by Osram.

Osram generated an estimated 1 billion euros in sales in South African linked either directly to the World Cup or indirectly to infrastructure required for the event, such as cable lines for the newly opened rapid transit train link serving the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, according to Alexander Becker, Siemens press spokesman.

Small and mid-size firms also benefit

But the contracts haven't been limited to large companies; small and medium-size companies have benefitted as well. The material used to create the roofs for the Soccer City Stadium and Cape Town's Green Point Stadium, for instance, was made by Verseidag with just 200 employees.

Unlike Lanxess or Siemens, which have thousands of employees and a wide network of partners and distributors around the world including South Africa, Verseidag has no global network, presenting challenges of its own.

"It was really difficult to communicate with the architecture firm in South Africa," said Verseidag architect Katja Bernert. "You can't just send computer data back and forth by e-mail. It has to be tested on the material."

As a result, a South African architect traveled to Verseidag to select the precise color for the roof, which was assembled in autumn 2009.

Image of a Brazil fan.

German manufacturers have now set their sights on Brazil 2014

Manufacturers and suppliers look ahead

Although the logistical challenges of small and large German manufacturers in South Africa have varied widely, all the companies have something in common: they have worked in large projects in the past.

Verseidag, for instance, built the roof of the world's tallest building, and Lanxess has been involved in a number of projects linked to big sporting events such as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The company provided the materials for the seats at Tianjin Olympic Stadium, which hosted preliminary football matches.

Siemens has a history of delivering infrastructure for large events. The company was involved in Munich's public transportation system for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Verseidag, Laxness and Siemens are already looking ahead to the next World Cup, which will take place in Brazil in four years. "It's not decided [for the 2014 games], but we were instrumental in advising Brazilian architects to see the South African projects," Hellwig said.

Other German manufacturers also hope their South Africa 2010 projects will serve as examples of their work and convince the 2014 FIFA World Cup planners in Brazil of their ability to fulfil large-scale projects.

Author: Brigitte Moll / Chiponda Chimbelu/dl
Editor: John Blau

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