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Business Briefs

Bertelsmann acquires Axel Springer's publishing division; Germany says it won't undermine stability pact; German trade surplus surges.


Bertelsmann headquarters

Bertelsmann To Buy Springer's Book Division

German publishing company Axel Springer said on Thursday it would sell its books unit, Ullstein Heyne List, to Random House, a subsidiary of media giant Bertelsmann. A Springer spokeswoman said the sale is part of the company's efforts to concentrate its focus on its core newspaper business. Random House has annual sales in Germany of over €200 million ($216 million). Though Ullstein Heyne List, which publishes top authors including Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Stephen King, had revenues of €167 million in 2001, it also posted a loss of €46 million. Though neither company has revealed details of the purchase, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper quoted analysts stating the price was likely around €100 million.

Trade Surplus Grows In Germany

Germany's trade surplus grew sharply in 2002 as exports expanded and imports declined, data published by the Federal Statistics Office on Tuesday showed. Germany posted a trade surplus of €126.1 billion ($135 billion) in 2002, a 24 percent increase over 2001's €95.5 billion figure. On the export side, foreign demand for German-made goods rose by 1.6 percent, to €648.4 billion, while domestic demand remained sluggish with imports falling by 3.8 percent to €522.3 billion.

European Markets Recover as War Fears Ease

European markets rose on Tuesday morning on the back of subsiding war fears as Iraq agreed to a key demand by United Nations weapons inspectors. London's FTSE 100 rose 1 percent to 3,614.6, while Frankfurt's electronically traded Xetra Dax edged up 0.6 percent to 2,602.49 and the CAC 40 blue chip index in Paris added 1.4 percent to 2,811.47. The pan-European FTSE Eurotop 300, a broader index of the region's largest stocks, was up 1.1 percent. The insurance and information technology sub-sectors were among the top gainers. Jittery investors returned to the market on Tuesday, buying up stocks that were beaten down in recent sessions.

German New Car Registrations Fall in January

Demand for new cars in Germany declined in January, as consumer spending was hit by the overall economic weakness, rising unemployment and higher fuel prices, according to data published by the auto industry federation VDA. The VDA report, released on Tuesday, shoed that the number of new cars registered in the euro zone's biggest economy stood at 237,000 in January, three percent fewer than in the same month in 2002. Despite new models and substantial marketing drives, car makers did not succeed in reversing the downward trend in domestic sales that Germany has seen for the past three years. By contrast, foreign demand for German-made cars remained relatively buoyant with the number of new cars exported rising by 3 percent to 301,000 vehicles. In all, a total of 410,800 cars rolled off the production lines in Germany in January, one percent more than in January 2002, VDA said.

Compiled from wire reports.