2015年7月31日 星期五

Why Nikkei Is Betting Big...日經新聞 Nikkei 將收買英國金融時報(FT)。日本報紙將何去何從?

“Nikkei is clearly buying its growth outside of a slow and shrinking market.”
Nikkei’s $1.3 billion deal to buy the Financial Times underscores the fact...

Financial Times 的相片。

Japan Takes The FT: This Will Not End Well - Forbes

For many years the FT has been at the forefront among Anglophone news organizations in painting Japan as an economic basket case. What an irony ...

For many years the FT has been at the forefront among Anglophone news organizations in painting Japan as an economic basket case. What an irony it is, therefore, that the FT group is now being sold to Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) group.

The deal, which reportedly is worth $1.3 billion to Pearson, the FT‘s long-time London-based owner, raises many interesting questions. Why, for instance, isNikkei buying the FT, not the other way around? The two companies have worked together since at least as far back as the 1980s and throughout that time the British have been condescending towards the Japanese.

For anyone who really knows Japan, however, there is little mystery. To put it bluntly Japan remains a rising power whereas the United Kingdom continues in fast relative decline. This is most obvious in the two nations’ trade figures. Japan continues to earn large current account surpluses. Meanwhile on a percentage basis, the United Kingdom runs the largest current account deficits of any major nation (even larger than those of the United States). Almost right across the board in advanced manufacturing the Japanese have now replaced their once formidable American and British rivals as world leaders. Even China depends crucially on Japan’s sophisticated materials, high-tech components, and advanced production goods. By comparison Chinese manufacturers source virtually nothing from the United States or the United Kingdom.

All this brings to mind the remark of Willie Sutton when he was asked why he robbed banks: that’s where the money is. British companies sell out to Japanese ones, not the other way around, because Japan is where the money is.

The larger issue here is that a free press in an Anglophone sense does not exist in Japan. The Japanese media are carefully controlled organs of a ferociously nationalistic Japanese bureaucracy. Although they sometimes appear to display independence, this is more apparent than real. When they go after corporate scandals, for instance, this is rarely driven by Anglophone ideas of free inquiry. Rather it is inspired by decisions in the higher bureaucracy to make an example of individuals and businesses that are perceived to have gotten too big for their boots.

In a word, a key problem going forward will be which nation the FT speaks for. FT editors will no doubt persist in the fiction that they are free agents in the British tradition – but in the long run any hopes they might harbor that they can continue to cover East Asia, for instance, on an impartial basis will be dashed. Willy nilly the FT seems destined to become just another organ of Japanese power.

Profit Is Small Relative to SalesShare on Twitter
In 2014, Nikkei posted net profit of 10.3 billion yen, or about $83 million, on revenue of 301 billion yen. Revenue was up 4.4% but net profit was down 10%. The Nikkei’s purchase of the FT, in other words, is costing it the equivalent of about 16 years of net profit.

Until Now, a Minor Player OverseasShare on Twitter
The company publishes the Nikkei Asian Review, a weekly magazine focusing on Asia, and puts out some content in English. But until the announcement Thursday of its purchase of the Financial Times, the Nikkei, like most other Japanese media organizations, had a relatively small presence outside Japan.

It's Japan's Top Business NewspaperShare on Twitter
Nikkei Inc.’s flagship morning daily had circulation of 2.77 million in the first half of 2014, according to Japan Audit Bureau of Circulations figures cited by the Yomiuri newspaper. (The bureau doesn’t release its numbers to the public.) That falls behind Japan’s top general-interest newspapers—the Yomiuri had 9.56 million circulation in the same period and the Asahi had 7.43 million—but the Nikkei’s reach among corporate executives is unparalleled.

Pearson Inks Deal to Sell FT to Nikkei

日經新聞 Nikkei 將收買英國金融時報(FT)。日本報紙將何去何從?




《衛報》(The Guardian)23日的報導,英國培生出版集團(Pearson plc)23日的聲明,在全球財經新聞執牛耳的《金融時報》(Financial Times)將出售,並未透露買主身分,目前僅得知為一「全球數位新聞公司」(global digital news company),培生集團聲明中強調,「所有細節仍將討論」。據悉,這場交易的金額為10億英鎊(約新台幣480億元),其實,《金融時報》自2013年即傳聞將出售,但在前高層史卡迪諾(Marjorie Scardino)不惜說出「想都別想」(over my dead body)的強力反對之下,傳言暫告停歇。史卡迪諾2年前交棒給法倫(John Fallon),法倫當時也信誓旦旦的說不會出售《金融時報》,「是培生集團極具價值的公司」,言猶在耳,23日即傳出拋售的消息。


《金融時報》創立於1888年1月9日,1945年成為培生集團的旗下出版品,目前還擁有《經濟學人》(The Economist)50%的股份,聲明出爐後,培生集團的股價23日上揚3%。培生集團表示未來將全心專注教育事業,不再經營媒體事業。培生23日將發布上半年財報。

Financial Times sale: Pearson in 'advanced discussions' with buyer
Publisher could earn as much as £1bn from sale of business newspaper
Financial Times: Pearson has confirmed it is holding talks on a sale. Photograph: Richard Levine/Demotix/Corbis

John Plunkett and Jane Martinson
Thursday 23 July 2015 11.13 BST
Pearson is in “advanced discussions” over a sale of the Financial Times, it said on Thursday.
Reuters said the London-based FTSE 100 company had decided to sell FT Group to an unnamed global digital news company, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The sale of the global financial newspaper, which was first published in 1888, could net Pearson as much as £1bn.
In a statement, Pearson said: “Pearson notes recent press speculation and confirms that it is in advanced discussions regarding the potential disposal of FT Group although there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction.

“A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.”

Lionel Barber: ‘It’s adapt or die frankly and that’s what we’re doing’

otential buyers previously linked to a move for the Financial Times include Axel Springer, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

On his return to running his eponymous financial information company Mike Bloomberg replaced his long-time editorial chief Matt Winckler with John Micklethwait, the erudite former editor of the Economist. The appointment immediately revived rumours of a bid for the FT.

Media companies are notoriously difficult to value especially when they are part of larger organisations. One senior banker said speculation that the FT Group could be worth as much as £1.5bn was due to the fact that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Rupert Murdoch paid well above expectations, twice as much as its estimated worth at the time, when he bought Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal for $5bn in 2007.Other potential buyers could include a billionaire keen to own a global brand such as the Financial Times.

A recent note valued the FT at between £750m and £1bn, with the FT worth £500m and the biggest unknown the worth of the 50% stake in the Economist. One media executive called it “the real prize”. A sale of the whole unit might not trigger a change of ownership clause in the Economist.

A bid by Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters would be likely to result in significant cost cuts, especially among editorial. Axel Springer employs 14,000 staff across several digital platforms with its biggest newspaper the flagship German tabloid Bild. Last year it made €3bn in revenues and earnings of €507m.

One possibility would be for Pearson to negotiate a three-year joint venture which would result in the eventual sale of the FT Group.

Pearson has long been said to have been considering a sale of the title, which is edited by Lionel Barber.

Its former chief executive Marjorie Scardino once said the paper would be sold “over my dead body”. But she has since been succeeded by John Fallon, who took up the post two years ago.

The FT Group also includes a 50% stake in the Economist.After the last round of sale rumours in 2013, Fallon said the paper was “not for sale” and described the FT as a “valued and valuable part of Pearson”.

Pearson is a world leader in educational publishing, from which it makes the bulk of its revenues. It has owned the Financial Times for nearly 60 years.

Its shares were up 3% in early trading on Thursday to 1,237p.

The FT has a global print and digital circulation of 720,000, according to the company’s latest interim results in February this year, with digital readers accounting for 70% of the paper’s total paying audience.

Pearson said FT profits had tripled year on year, but the group does not break out the paper’s earnings from the wider FT Group.

The FT Group is part of Pearson Professional which recorded adjusted operating profit of £106m last year on turnover of £1.2bn.

In the last decade its print circulation has halved but its digital subscriber base has grown exponentially, up 21% year on year to 504,000 in the latest figures.

Barber, an FT veteran of 30 years’ standing, has been the paper’s editor since 2005.

A digital pioneer since he introduced a metered paywall on the paper’s website, he has nevertheless said there is plenty of life in the print product, unveiling a new-look paper last year.

In an interview last September Barber said: “I’ve got probably one of the most privileged positions in journalism and I don’t plan to give that up any time soon.”

In Microsoft’s Nokia Debacle, a View of an Industry’s Feet of Clay

A Microsoft Nokia presentation in Berlin last year. Microsoft's venture into smartphones has been costly. CreditMarkus Schreiber/Associated Press
Let’s call it the $7.5 billion lesson.
That’s the amount Microsoft wrote off on Nokia’s phone unit, which it bought a little over a year ago for what it said was $9.5 billion. Considering that the deal included $1.5 billion in cash, the write-off means Microsoft now values a business that once controlled 41 percent of the global handset market at just a small fraction of the purchase price.
Thanks in large part to the huge accounting charge, Microsoft reported its largest quarterly loss ever last week ($3.2 billion). It was only the third loss in its history as a public company.
“If you were talking about any other industry, this would be considered a catastrophe that’s the equivalent to a natural disaster,” said Horace Dediu, who spent eight years at Nokia during its heyday and is now at the San Francisco research firm Clayton Christensen Institute, which studies disruptive technologies.
This being the technology business, Microsoft’s still relatively new chief executive, Satya Nadella, gets credit for swiftly confronting reality and taking the hit to earnings. This may have been easier given that Mr. Nadella opposed the proposed deal in an initial poll of top Microsoft officials. But Steven A. Ballmer, his predecessor, was determined to push the deal through as a capstone to his long tenure as chief executive. Even after the deal was revised, and Mr. Nadella issued a public statement supporting it, two directors voted against it. Both have since left the board.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief, was quick to unwind the company's Nokia deal.CreditStephen Lam/Getty Images
Microsoft’s spokesman, Frank X. Shaw, said it was normal for there to be internal debate over major acquisitions. Still, it’s rare for there to be open board dissent once final terms of a deal have been struck.
Microsoft is also in good company. Google abandoned its foray into smartphones when it sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo last year. But it has written off just $378 million related to the $12.5 billion Motorola acquisition. Amazon wrote off an even more modest $170 million last October, acknowledging that its Fire phone was a flop.
“We try to learn from everything we do as we launch new opportunities,” said Amazon’s chief financial officer at the time, Thomas J. Szkutak, invoking the positive “learning” spin that technology companies typically put on failed ventures.
But far more was at stake for Microsoft than for Google or Amazon, since the main point of the Nokia deal was to support Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which, in turn, was a crucial element in Microsoft’s “mobile first” strategy. Now both handset operating systems and hardware are pretty much global duopolies, with Google and Apple dominating software and Samsung and Apple dominating hardware. Microsoft has jettisoned the strategy.
Microsoft’s “grand scheme was to have a single platform that ran on PCs, laptops, tablets and phones, and to be able to sell applications that run Windows,” said Nicholas Economides, an economics professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University who specializes in network economics and electronic commerce. “That failed.”
Mr. Dediu said it was hard to put all the blame on Microsoft, since so many others had met a similar fate. “Most people didn’t believe that such a catastrophe could occur this fast,” he said. Microsoft “just couldn’t imagine that a company that was once as strong and dominant as Nokia could have virtually no value.”
He compared the swift rise of Apple and the withering fortunes of Nokia, BlackBerry and other once-thriving manufacturers to the arrival of an infectious virus. “We tend to think the strong will survive,” Mr. Dediu said. “But a virus is a very small thing that kills big things.”
He continued: “It’s easy to say Microsoft was foolish and blame the chief executive. But when it happens to everyone, it’s an extinction event. A whole bunch of companies were disrupted. And it happened in the blink of an eye.”
Even so, as lessons go, $7.5 billion is pretty steep tuition. When I asked Microsoft what it had gotten for its money, its spokesman, Mr. Shaw, agreed that the speed of the changes in the industry had taken the company by surprise. “Everything always looks different with the benefit of hindsight,” he said.
Microsoft has now embarked on what Mr. Nadella said is no less than a “reinvention” of the company. In an email to employees this month explaining the shift, Mr. Nadella said, “We are moving from a strategy to grow a stand-alone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem.”
Mr. Shaw stressed that Microsoft would continue to manufacture Windows phones and other products, and that it would introduce a new line of Lumia phones this fall. But they will be differentiated products tailored to narrower market segments, like business customers concerned about security.
“One thing we learned is that if we offer differentiated products that focus on the things we do best, those products do well,” Mr. Shaw said. “Instead of just thinking about our products running on our devices, we’re thinking about how we reach people, no matter what device they’re using. Our goal is to bring them home to Windows, where they’ll have a better, differentiated experience.”
As Mr. Nadella put it, “Our reinvention will be centered on creating mobility of experiences across the entire device family, including phones.”
As a result, much is riding on Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 10, which it introduced this week.
Perhaps most important, Mr. Shaw said Microsoft recognized a pressing need to innovate: “If you miss the first wave, you have to hang on and then drive or anticipate the next wave. We want to be part of the next wave of disruption.”
That, of course, is far easier said than done, especially since the next wave may already be upon us.
Apple has already made a big splash with its Apple Watch, which the company has said is exceeding sales projections.
Microsoft introduced its own wearable computing device, the Microsoft Band, last year, months before Apple. The Band offers many of the same features as the Apple Watch, at a lower price. It works with multiple operating systems, unlike the Apple Watch, which works only with iOS. While not an unqualified hit with tech writers (neither is the Apple Watch), the Band has garnered many positive reviews.
Microsoft hasn’t released any sales figures, but the Band seems to have barely dented consumer consciousness. It looks like a clunky fitness tracker, not a sleek high-end watch. The Apple Watch, by contrast, is already an instantly recognizable status symbol and fashion accessory.
Microsoft said it never positioned the Band as a watch, and thus it shouldn’t be compared with the Apple Watch. But given that the Apple Watch also serves as a fitness device, has Microsoft already missed the next wave, the shift from the pocket to the wrist?
“It’s a valid question,” Mr. Dediu said. “It’s not automatic that you can transition success from one platform to another. To survive long term in this industry, you have to create a new category or be a fast follower.” He compared Microsoft to IBM, another technology giant “that seems to be in a slow decline that may never reverse.”
Returning to his biology analogy, he said: “You’re a large species, you get a virus. What can you do? It’s not really your fault. But you’re not immortal.”

Leadership: Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon

How much of what you think you know about Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon is true? Irwin Gellman weighs in on our blog:http://owl.li/Qhne8 

Michael Jordan loses China trademark suit: report

【7/31新聞想想】智財權官司 喬丹在中國踢鐵板
法新社引用中國媒體報導,NBA傳奇球星Michael Jordan控告中國品牌「喬丹」侵權官司,已遭北京法院駁回。Jordan聲稱,「喬丹」的品牌名稱與他的中文譯名相同,將會使消費者誤認該品牌與他有關。
除了名稱,喬丹牌的logo也選用一名籃球員的背影,看來和Nike旗下的Air Jordan品牌「Jumpman」標幟神似。Jordan於2012年在中國提告,要求註銷該品牌名,但北京初級法院駁回,如今高等法院再度駁回。
判決書指出,Jordan是常見的美國男子姓氏,而「喬丹」亦不能說完全指涉Jordan本人;至於標幟,因為背影並未顯示籃球員五官,消費者很難直接認定其為Michael Jordan。
A Beijing court has dismissed a trademark case brought by US basketball superstar Michael Jordan against a company using a similar name and logo to his Nike-produced brand, a report said. The former Chicago Bull is...

2015年7月30日 星期四


60,483 次觀看
ABC News 上傳了一個新的影片
While you may not think of fine dining when it comes to the Big Mac, McDonald's Japan wants you to think outside the burger box for a one-day fancy pop-up.http://abcn.ws/1SzV9xP

2015年7月29日 星期三

The P-TECH 9-14 model 美國企業搶人 眼光看向青少年

The P-TECH 9-14 model works for all students, but is especially designed for those who are underrepresented in college, including students who are members of minority groups, those who are economically disadvantaged, and those who are the first in their family to attend college.
The P-TECH 9-14 model is designed to motivate and enable more students to earn a college degree and successfully transition into the workplace, with the preparation and skills needed by employers.

企業搶人 眼光看向青少年

作者:劉光瑩譯 2015-07-21 天下雜誌577期

不花錢,讀完高中四年加大專兩年課程,可能馬上獲得年薪百萬的工作。 美國有愈來愈多企業加入P-Tech計劃,一邊幫助弱勢學生,一邊搶人才。


這是位於紐約市布魯克林區的「P-Tech」(Pathways in Technology Early College High School,科技進路大學預科學校)計劃,提供「四加二」(高中四年加上大專兩年)職涯與技術教育計劃,六年課程結束,畢業生就獲頒準學士學位。









- See more at: http://www.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=5069407#sthash.dj9Syqpd.dpuf

柏林新機場“豆腐渣工程” How Berlin’s Futuristic Airport Became a $6 Billion Embarrassment



(德國之聲中文網)柏林-勃蘭登堡國際機場(BER Airport)2006年破土動工以來,施工過程就沒順利過。這一工程讓德國也在國際上成了笑料,認為德國人連個機場都蓋不好。


先說說新機場防火系統的主策劃師迪毛羅(Alfredo di Mauro),他並不是工程師,而只是工程圖紙繪製師。這一點他自己也承認了。他向德新社證實,自己多年來是負責新機場工程承建的策劃公司的員工,但並非固定員工:"公司把我當工程師看待,我也沒反駁。"今年5月,柏林新機場總裁梅多恩(Hartmut Mehdorn)炒了迪毛羅的魷魚。

2012年8月應聘擔任新機場技術總監的阿曼(Horst Amann)曾被認作是能解決機場所面臨困境的救星。事實證明,他也不是正確的人選。他手下的員工說,這位技術總監完全應對不了局面。阿曼之後也被辭退。他的繼任,總策劃師特普費爾(Regina Toepfer)也在今年2月被下崗。



機場前一任技術總監格羅斯曼(Jochen Grossmann)還涉嫌受賄50萬歐元。機場項目圈內還傳出消息,說此人涉嫌採取有違市場公平競爭原則,參與幕後操作建造價格。









更加尷尬的是,目前還沒有項目負責人敢宣布機場交工究竟何時?此前提上日程的幾個時間都被一推再推。德國聯邦議院交通事務委員會負責人馬丁·布爾科特(Martin Burket)今年5月曾表示,柏林新機場恐怕要在2017年完工。


作者:Iveta Ondruskova 編譯:謝菲

How Berlin’s Futuristic Airport Became a $6 Billion Embarrassment
Inside Germany’s profligate (Greek-like!) fiasco called Berlin Brandenburg

July 23, 2015
by Joshua Hammer
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Photographer: Eriver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek

The inspectors could hardly believe what they were seeing. Summoned from their headquarters near Munich, the team of logistics, safety, and aviation experts had arrived at newly constructed Berlin Brandenburg International Willy Brandt Airport in the fall of 2011 to begin a lengthy series of checks and approvals for the €600 million ($656 million) terminal on the outskirts of the German capital. Expected to open the following June, the airport, billed as Europe’s “most modern,” was intended to handle 27 million passengers a year and crown Berlin as the continent’s 21st century crossroads.

The team of inspectors, known as ORAT, for Operations Readiness and Airport Transfer, brought in a dummy plane and volunteers as test passengers. They examined everything from baggage carousels and security gates to the fire protection system. The last was an especially high priority: None could forget the 1996 fire that roared through Düsseldorf Airport’s passenger terminal, killing 17.

When they simulated a fire, though, the system went haywire. Some alarms failed to activate. Others indicated a fire, but in the wrong part of the terminal. The explanation was buried in the 55-mile tangle of wiring that had been laid, hastily, beneath the floors of the building where ORAT technicians soon discovered high-voltage power lines alongside data and heating cables—a fire hazard in its own right. That wasn’t all. Smoke evacuation canals designed to suck out smoke and replace it with fresh air failed to do either. In an actual fire, the inspectors determined, the main smoke vent might well implode.

Photographer: Eriver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek

Confronted with the fire system fiasco, Rainer Schwarz, chief executive officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB), the airport company owned by the city of Berlin, the state of Brandenburg, and the federal government, downplayed it. Schwarz and his staff told the airport’s board of oversight, as well as Stephan Loge, the commissioner of Dahme-Spreewald County, who had the final authority to issue the airport an operating license, that they were working through some issues, but that the situation was under control. Schwarz also appointed an emergency task force to propose solutions that would allow the airport to open on time. In March 2012 the group submitted its stopgap: Eight hundred low-paid workers armed with cell phones would take up positions throughout the terminal. If anyone smelled smoke or saw a fire, he would alert the airport fire station and direct passengers toward the exits. Never mind that the region’s cell phone networks were notoriously unreliable, or that some students would be stationed near the smoke evacuation channels, where in a fire temperatures could reach 1,000F.

It was, says Martin Delius, “an idiotic plan.” Delius is a physicist and member of Berlin’s parliament who has conducted an extensive investigation of the airport’s troubled infrastructure. “They thought that this would at least eliminate the need for wiring,” he says, “because [the spotters] could see with their own eyes if there is a mass of smoke lower than 6 feet above the ground.”

Photographer: Michael Sohn/AP Photo

Schwarz continued to prepare for the opening, and the German public remained oblivious. By April 2012, airport fever was consuming Berlin. Mayor Klaus Wowereit sent out 3,000 invitations for the Hoffest, the annual mayoral ball at the 19th century City Hall, printing the entry tickets on mock boarding cards. Billboards went up, showing a photomontage of the airport’s namesake and famous Cold War leader embracing passengers, with the legend, “Willy Brandt greets the world!” Preparations continued for an extravagant inaugural. Angela Merkel, the chancellor, was to disembark from a government jet and stroll down a red carpet to the glass-walled terminal, which would have been filled with expensive food and drink. On the night of June 2, in a stunt-like mobilization, thousands of workers would shuttle 600 truckloads of equipment and a fleet of 60-ton aircraft tugs 19 miles down a sealed-off expressway from Berlin-Tegel, Berlin’s main airport, in the northwest corner of the city, and Tegel would shut down forever the same day the new airport came online.

But in the town of Lübben, in what used to be East Germany, Commissioner Loge had his doubts. He and his own staff of building inspectors had spent many hours examining the fire protection system at the Tropical Islands Resort, an indoor paradise set in a former airship hangar in Brandenburg. One of the world’s largest freestanding structures, it draws up to 6,000 warmth-and-beach-deprived Germans a day. “It was far more complicated than the one at Berlin Brandenburg airport, and it worked,” Loge says.

On May 7, less than four weeks before the scheduled opening, Loge met with Schwarz for the first time. The airport, Schwarz conceded, would have to open using the army of human fire detectors.

“Professor, let me understand this,” Loge said. “You are talking about having 800 people wearing orange vests, sitting on camping stools, holding thermoses filled with coffee, and shouting into their cell phones, ‘Open the fire door’?” Loge refused the airport an operating license. Schwarz stood up and walked out without another word.

The next day, in a hall packed with government officials and journalists, Schwarz sat grimly behind a table with four other officials, including Mayor Wowereit, and announced the unthinkable: The airport wouldn’t open as scheduled. The inaugural bash and overnight move from Tegel were scuttled.

It was merely a prelude to a debacle that is still unfolding. Three years later, Berlin Brandenburg has wrecked careers and joined two other bloated projects—Stuttgart 21, a years-late railway station €2 billion over budget, and an €865 million concert hall in Hamburg—in tarnishing Germany’s reputation for order, efficiency, and engineering mastery.

At the very moment Merkel and her allies are hectoring the Greeks about their profligacy, the airport’s cost, borne by taxpayers, has tripled to €5.4 billion. Two airport company directors (including Schwarz), three technical chiefs, the architects, and dozens if not hundreds of others have been fired or forced to quit, or have left in disgust. The government spends €16 million per month just to prevent the huge facility from falling into disrepair. According to the most optimistic scenarios, it won’t check in its first passengers until 2017, and sunny pronouncements have long since given way to “catastrophe,” “farce,” and “the building site of horror.” There is a noted German word for the delight some took in the mess, too.

Breaking ground in September 2006.
Photographer: Gunter Wicker/Berlin Brandenburg Airport

In the beginning, Berlin Brandenburg airport was at best an economically unnecessary symbol of unity and growth. In October 1990, when politicians and planners began a search for ways of bridging the city’s long East-West divide, Berlin had three modest-size airports: Tempelhof, famed as the site of the 1948 Berlin Airlift; Schönefeld, opened in 1946, which later became the main airport serving Communist East Germany; and Tegel, a gem of efficiency that opened in 1948. By 1995 about 12 million people flew in and out of the city each year. After years of languishing as a Cold War backwater, Berlin was on the rise. By 2020, passenger totals were projected to reach 22 million.

In 2001, Wowereit sensed an opportunity. A gray-haired extrovert who bears a certain resemblance to the actor Alec Baldwin, “Wowi,” as he’s known, had earned a reputation as both a party animal and a rainmaker. He attracted free-spirited events to the city, such as an international S&M fetish street party, and proudly proclaimed, “I’m gay, and that’s a good thing.” “Is Germany Ready for a Gay Chancellor?” Der Spiegel asked after the Social Democrat’s landslide reelection in 2006. The Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport was to be his legacy in the city, while possibly paving the way for national office. (Wowereit declined to be interviewed for this article.)

To design the airport, FBB landed Meinhard von Gerkan, Germany’s most famous architect, a septuagenarian with a mane of white hair who’d made his name at age 30 with the Tegel Airport. The founding partner of Hamburg-based firm von Gerkan, Marg, & Partners, he’s known to squabble publicly with project managers when he feels that his artistic vision has been compromised.

The third key player was Schwarz, who was appointed CEO of the airport management company in 2006. A U.S.-trained economist who’d run Düsseldorf Airport, Schwarz had a reputation as a cost-cutting technocrat—just the man for the job. After considering a half-dozen sites, including a former Russian army base, the airport management team from FBB broke ground in 2006 on a vast plot just a couple of miles from the existing runways at Schönefeld.

The project’s first complications stemmed from Schwarz and Wowereit’s ever-changing ambitions. With construction under way, Schwarz, seizing on increasing forecasts for air traffic (up to 27 million passengers at that point), had von Gerkan add north and south “piers” to the main terminal, turning it from a rectangle into a “U” and dramatically enlarging the floor space. Schwarz also dreamed of making the airport a Dubai-like luxury mall. Airports earn significant money from nonaviation businesses, the FBB boss noted, so why not insert a second level, jammed with shops, boutiques, and food courts? Von Gerkan derided what he called the Vermallung of the airport—its “mallification”—but he capitulated to Schwarz’s demands.

According to Boris Hermel, a TV and radio correspondent who has covered the airport saga from the beginning, and other sources, Wowereit and Schwarz fell hard for an airplane: the Airbus A380, the double-decker, widebody, four-engine jetliner capable of seating 853 people. While no airline indicated it wanted to fly this monstrosity to Berlin, the men called for the walls at one end of the terminal to be ripped out so that an extra-wide gate could be built to accommodate it. “The clients were tripping over each other with requests for changes,” von Gerkan later said.

Germany spends €16 million a month just to maintain the unfinished facility.
Photographer: Eriver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek

In his investigation, Delius examined tens of thousands of internal FBB e-mails. “The people responsible for technical oversight were saying, ‘We cannot do this within this amount of time,’ and Schwarz would answer, ‘I don’t care,’ ” he says.

The architecture and engineering teams fought to keep up. As the terminal ballooned from 200,000 to 340,000 square meters (dwarfing Frankfurt’s 240,000 and just shy of Heathrow Terminal 5’s 353,000), they parceled out the work to seven contractors. That soon grew to 35, and they brought in hundreds of subcontractors, says Delius. Several engineering and electronics companies, led by the German giants Siemens and Bosch, struggled to retain control over the complex fire protection system that included 3,000 fire doors, 65,000 sprinklers, thousands of smoke detectors, a labyrinth of smoke evacuation ducts, and the equivalent of 55 miles of cables.

“Our part, the detection of hot air or smoke ... is functioning,” says Thilo Resenhoeft, a Bosch spokesman. “The responsibility for the dysfunction lies with somebody else.” Siemens spokesman Oliver Santen confirms that the company was originally responsible for building the “automated fire protection facility” and “the control unit for fresh-air circulation.” Testing in 2013 “showed the need for reworking part of the system,” he says. Santen declines to attribute responsibility other than to say that Siemens is “responsible for the reconstruction of the fresh-air circulation system.”

Each addition ordered up by Schwarz required shifting passenger flows through the terminal. That meant rebuilding walls, exits, emergency lights, ventilation systems, windows, elevators, and staircases. At one point, in 2009, outside controllers urged Schwarz and his engineering chief to shut down construction for half a year to give the architects and contractors time to coordinate efforts. Schwarz, Delius says, ignored them. Just months before the scheduled June 2012 opening, the terminal was a mess. Careless workers stepped on and shattered glass being installed by other companies. Heavy equipment rolled across the terminal floor, scratching expensive tiles. Tempers flared; small contractors complained they weren’t getting paid and threatened to walk off the job.

Photographer: Eriver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek

“The number of defects that they’ve found has grown to 150,000”

Following the humiliating announcement in May 2012 that the grand opening was off, the theater of the absurd escalated as executives, board members, and contractors turned on one another. Schwarz presented the board with a list of accusations against von Gerkan and his firm, charging that the architects had misled management with overoptimistic reports on their progress. The architects were fired, along with dozens of other key planners, slowing the project further. “Schwarz lost all their know-how,” says Hermel, the radio journalist. “They were back at Square One.”

Von Gerkan shot back. In a 2013 tell-all book, Black Box BER, he accused Schwarz of resisting all attempts at dialogue. Schwarz “had no concept, only insatiable demands,” von Gerkan wrote, and lived inside “a fairy tale.” That same year, after it became clear that Wowereit’s repeated predictions of an imminent opening were unrealistic, the mayor stepped down as chairman of the board of oversight. (He later resigned as mayor.) Schwarz was fired days after Wowereit left the board of oversight. He sued for wrongful termination, and in late 2014 a Berlin court ordered the airport owners to pay Schwarz €1.14 million in damages for his dismissal, saying the board of oversight shared responsibility for the fiasco. In an e-mail to Bloomberg Businessweek, Schwarz said he felt vindicated by the court’s decision, concluding, “There is nothing to add.”

In the two years since Schwarz and Wowereit’s dual exit, the owners of the airport have reshuffled the board of oversight and burned through another management team. Schwarz’s successor, a short, stocky official named Hartmut Mehdorn, 72, is a close friend of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. While head of Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway, Mehdorn supervised the construction of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, the central train station, in a contentious collaboration with von Gerkan. Hauptbahnhof is considered a German triumph: “If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City,” Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times in 2008, “they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.”

Mehdorn came into the Berlin Brandenburg job determined to turn it around. “He is a whirlwind,” says Axel Vogel of the Green Party. After a year of paralysis on the building site, one of Mehdorn’s early moves was to turn on the fountain in front of the deserted terminal to signal that he would get things done. But almost as a mocking counterpoint, the lights in the terminal couldn’t be turned off because of a computer glitch no one could fix, and the electricity bill soared.

Mehdorn squabbled with his engineering chief and antagonized the board of oversight with his ill-conceived schemes to get the airport up and running. At one point he proposed opening just the northern pier. A terrible idea, says Delius: “It was never meant to be opened separately from the rest of the terminal. There were no luggage carousels, no check-in counters, and the only way to reach it would have been to walk across the runway.”

By December 2014 relations between Mehdorn and the board had gotten so bad that the board considered hiring a headhunter to find his replacement, according to Delius and others. Hearing about the plan, Mehdorn quit. After his exit, nobody wanted the job. Mehdorn could not be reached for comment.

In February 2015 the board managed to lure Karsten Mühlenfeld, the well-regarded 51-year-old former chief of engineering at Rolls-Royce Germany. It also hired a former Siemens manager as his technical director. One of the first moves the two made was to yank out and reinstall the miles of cables. Then they turned to the fire prevention system. Smoke now channels upward through chimneys, in accordance with the laws of physics.

The board says construction should be completed by the middle of 2016, to be followed by fresh rounds of testing by ORAT crews. If all goes according to plan, says Mühlenfeld, the airport should begin operations in 2017. Berliners are trying to remain patient as tourism is booming and growth is limited by a lack of flights. “The number of defects that they’ve found has grown to 150,000, including 85,000 serious ones,” says Vogel.

On a Saturday afternoon in July, I board a bus in the Schönefeld parking lot for a two-hour public tour of the deserted airport. The tour leader seems almost to revel in the airport’s cursed history. The project had been a disaster, he says. Still, the terminal building is impressive. We enter the giant structure and walk across floors of light-gray tile, past check-in counters made of artificial walnut. The infamous second level looms above, filled with restaurants and duty-free shops, all done in the same tasteful faux wood. Twin pairs of stainless-steel chimneys rise out of the ceiling. An express train rumbles into the station directly beneath the terminal. Eventually, four trains an hour will whisk passengers to and from central Berlin in 20 minutes. The terminal has a light, spacious feeling, with panoramic sightlines reminiscent of the aesthetics at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

“You have to say that it is a really cool airport,” Delius says. “The architecture is good. The concept is good. It is very easygoing, easy to navigate. It should please a lot of people—if it ever gets finished.”

Photographer: Eriver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek