Caspian Energy (CE): Dr. Goetz, your company is represented in many countries, from Beijing to London. Which large-scale projects does your company conduct and in which sectors of economy?
Stephan Goetz, Managing Partner, Goetzpartners Corporate Finance GmbH: We cannot talk about the identity of specific clients, but we are working on a number of multi-country (20-80 countries in one project) assignments in the telecommunications, classical industrial, infrastructure and service sector. These large scale projects focus on corporate transparency and transformation of the international/global activities of our clients.
CE: Currently the Asian markets are experiencing a slowdown in activity, and key figures of the European markets are not encouraging too. Do you have suggestions on how to revitalise markets and make them more attractive for investors?
Stephan Goetz: The world economies are going through a period of increased volatility. This is far from a real crisis as long as we don’t psychologically condition ourselves for a crisis come up, because this will result in a crisis. The other aspect is that we need to keep world markets open and avoid a new establishment of trade barriers for political, strategic, religious or any other reason.
CE: Energy prices now have reached the lowest levels since the 98-99s of the last century. Do you think that the crisis like this can change fundamentally the global upstream sector and the service industry (in case of global M&A as happened in 1999-2000s or changes in business profiles of majors)? What are the “pros” and “cons” of the current situation on the global markets for your company?
Stephan Goetz: The present crisis of the energy markets will globally change the upstream sector and the related service sectors, because it makes many projects economically impossible. This will result in a new technological push for the rated industries and an increased pressure on economically or ecologically unsustainable exploitation and power generation.
For advisory service companies, this is ironically not a tragedy as any changing economic condition generally creates more business in consulting and investment banking.
CE: Recently you had a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev in Munich. Could you please tell what did you discuss with the president? What will be your next steps in Azerbaijan? What sector of the economy is the most attractive to you?
Stephan Goetz: The discussion with President Ilham Aliyev centered around our potential ability to assist in the transformation of the economy towards a post - oil and gas economy. Our next step will be to explore the situation more thoroughly and identify the areas where we can be of special assistance, we have been working in the country in the telecom sector and this maybe one of the areas we could focus on.
Azerbaijan may become, regulatory conditions permitting, highly interesting for renewables, but also for agriculture and tourism. In the industrial sectors, you also need highly skilled workforce and other conditions, but certainly industries with a high energy consumption appear logical as target areas.
CE: Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the German economy. The ongoing reforms in Azerbaijan have the same objective - to develop small and medium-sized businesses. Which structural reforms, investments, in your opinion, would Azerbaijan need to develop its non-oil sector?
Stephan Goetz: Azerbaijan will take on many reforms to make the necessary changes into a post fossil energy country possible. Besides all reforms, the critical aspect for us is to change the mentality of the people to understand that the economy and therefore their livelihoods are no longer dictated by a natural resource that only needs to be exploited but rather their ingenuity, their creativity and hard work in making entrepreneurial concepts become reality. This means that the key is in a mental transformation of the elites, which has nothing to do with capital or industrial know-how.
CE: Do you plan to work in other countries of the Caspian region - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran?
Stephan Goetz: We have been working in Turkmenistan and to a limited degree in Kazakhstan, we are looking with great interest at Iran and we will take on opportunities in the region considering all factors including governance and transparency aspects. We do see a mission to assist these nations in their transformation as long as we can agree on fundamental values and economic terms.
Interview made by Olga Nagiyeva