German Web Investments to Rise

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Most of Germany's major companies plan to continue investing online this year, and none of the 30 firms that make up the Dax, the German equivalent of the Dow Jones Index, intend to cut their Internet budgets.

A survey conducted by the German business newspaper Handelsblatt found that all Dax members plan to make their businesses fitter for the Internet.

Many other German enterprises only began putting money into their Web activities last year and therefore plan to spend more money on e-commerce projects this year than they did in 2000.

Handelsblatt cited a Morgan Stanley Pan-European study that found the dot-com crisis has not affected the investment behavior of large corporations, with more and more funds flowing into business-to-business transactions.

Financial institutions are making the largest Internet commitments. Deutsche Bank, the country's largest, plans to invest 500 million euros ($450 million) in e-commerce projects this year. Rival Commerzbank has budgeted 1 billion euros through 2002.

Surveyed companies described their e-commerce projects as "key investments" for the future with "strategic considerations" far more important than the ups and downs of the business cycle.

Many other companies, Handelsblatt reported, want to invest online because an economic downturn seems in the offing and they expect greater efficiencies from Web-based operations. One chemical giant has budgeted 75 million euros.

German automakers are following the lead of U.S. companies in building Internet buying platforms. Battered Daimler Chrysler plans to invest 550 million euros (about $500 million) in the Web, most of it going to the Covisint platform.

But the company has not abandoned the consumer business and is talking to T-Online, Europe's biggest Internet service provider, about opening a Mercedes-Benz portal.

And Deutsche Telekom is looking into putting half of its 10 billion-euro purchasing budget online.

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