- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Foreign companies that want to be players in Washington always feel pressure in the nation's capital to demonstrate their American credentials, and Deutsche Post World Net is no exception.
The German logistics giant, which employs 16,000 people in the United States already, has good reasons to have an office in Washington, according to Wolfgang Pordzik, its top American official. But in opening its new lobbying shop this year, Mr. Pordzik opted for an extra touch: humanitarian aide in the service of the battle against terrorism.
Deutsche Post is arranging for the shipment of 1,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan from Grand Forks, N.D., to feed war widows and their children. North Dakota also happens to be the home turf of Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who has taken a strong interest in rebuilding the war-torn nation.
"Deutsche Post wants to be a global company," Mr. Pordzik said. "Here, we also need to be an American company."
Mr. Pordzik is now registered with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act as an American lobbyist, just like any U.S.-based company. Officially, he is the chief executive officer of Deutsche Post World Net USA Inc. In Washington, he said, Deutsche Post will focus on legislative issues related to the transportation and logistics industries.
Deutsche Post, an experienced player in the mail and package delivery business, also wants a piece of the action if Congress ever reforms the U.S. Postal Service to allow greater competition by private companies. The company needs a strong American presence, especially in Washington, if it wants to achieve that goal, Mr. Pordzik said.
Foreign companies might employ millions in the United States and make an essential contribution to economic growth, but when it comes to lobbying in Washington, they can't be American enough, said Todd M. Malan, executive director of the Organization for International Investment.
The group, composed of U.S.-based subsidiaries of 75 mostly European companies, makes clear on its Internet site that it represents "international business investing in America." They are not foreigners, and Mr. Malan avoids the word assiduously in public.
"The f-word is bad," he said. "Our goal is to explain to policy-makers that these companies are constituents."
The case of Bonn-based Deutsche Post World Net, which last year earned $1.4 billion on revenue of $29.6 billion, demonstrates just how tricky that task can be.
For starters, the former state postal monopoly is a newcomer to private business. It sold one-third of its shares to the public in 2000 but remains two-thirds owned by the German government. As a result, Deutsche Post's American competitors, notably Atlanta-based UPS Inc., have criticized it as a protected state-owned company that can do business in the United States with unfair advantages.
Deutche Post's actual business in the United States is spread across the logistics industry, complicating any quick description of the company.
"Deutsch Post is a real abstraction in this country," Mr. Pordzik said.
Its biggest component in the United States is a San Franscisco-based subsidiary of DHL Worldwide Express, the international package delivery company. But it also owns Danzas, an air cargo forwarder with American operations in Darien, Conn., and PB Capital, a logistics finance company.
A fourth company based in Sterling, Va., Deutsche Post Global Mail, handles bulk international mail shipments.
Using their U.S. subsidiaries, many foreign companies also make their presence in Washington felt through campaign contributions, an essential tool in Corporate America's political arsenal, Mr. Malan said.
The Swiss pharmaceutical behemoth Novartis has contributed $83,000 into campaign coffers so far in this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But Mr. Pordzik, who acknowledges that UPS and Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. are tough competitors in this respect, said that Deutsche Post will avoid jumping into the money game for the time being.
"Whether it will happen over time, I don't know," Mr. Pordzik said. "It's not a priority at this time."

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