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Business

Business Briefs

Frankfurt Book Fair considers new location, drug-maker Schering posts dramatic profit jump, Deutsche Bahn workers to strike Saturday and more.

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The Frankfurt Book Fair says it may look for a new home.

Frankfurt Book Fair Considers Move

Chances are increasing that the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest gathering of publishers in the world, will be relocated to a new city in 2004. A spokesman for the trade fair confirmed to journalists on Friday that it would consider offers from other locations for the event, which has been held in the central German city for decades, because hotels and the costs of renting exhibition booths in Frankfurt has grown prohibitively expensive. The company said it is considering Munich as a possible future venue as well as Cologne, Berlin and Hanover.

Schering Profits Jump

Berlin-based pharmaceutical giant Schering said on Friday its operating profits for 2002 increased by 11 percent over the previous year, to €464 million ($500.1 million). The company's revenues also surged by four percent to €5.023 billion. The company, which markets the multiple sclerosis drug Betaseron among others, said it expects one-digit growth in 2003 -- with much expected to come from the United States, the world's single largest market for pharmaceuticals. Despite increasing profits, Schering has struggled in the stock market this year.

More Germans Are Saving

Börsenkurse sinken

Piggy bank

In the face of one of the worst economic crises the country has experienced in decades, more and more Germans began stashing money away in their savings accounts during 2002 -- bringing overall savings to a record level. According to a report released by the newsweekly Focus, Germans last year put aside close to €142 billion ($153.2 billion). On average, Germans put 10.3 percent of their take-home pay into savings accounts or securities.

Lufthansa Reaches Deal With Unions

Germany's flagship airline, Lufthansa, reached a wage agreement on Thursday with the Ver.di labor union. The airline's 52,000 ground and board personnel had threatened to strike if they did not receive a 9 percent wage increase. In the end, however, a mediator for both parties confirmed to reporters on Friday that union representatives accepted a deal that would include a 2.9 percent wage increase, a one-time payout of €230 ($248) and an additional 1.8 percent pay hike starting in December. The company also agreed to provide employees with annual profit sharing payments equal to 1.6 percent of a workers' salary.

Deutsche Bahn Doesn't

ICE-3 Hochgeschwindigkeitszug

ICE train

The German railroad workers union Transnet on Friday threatened to call the greatest strike seen in the country's passenger rail services in 50 years if Deutsche Bahn does not meet its demands for a pay increase. Transnet is planning warning strikes on Saturday that are expected to disrupt regional trains in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The strike is expected to lead to delays in long distance and international trains, for which the state is an important hub. Negotiations between Deutsche Bahn and the union are scheduled to resume on March 6.

Compiled with material from wires.