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Business

Business Briefs

SAP, HP and Vodafone announce joint venture; Kiel Institute revises growth forecasts; Henkel gets its foot in the door at Wella; Salamander calls in management consultant; Ebay to give tax offices seller data.

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The headquarters of Europe's biggest business software company, SAP, in Walldorf, southwestern Germany

SAP announces joint venture with HP and Vodafone

German software giant SAP has announced it will join forces with U.S. computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard and mobile phone network provider Vodafone to develop and market new products for businesses. Unveiling the joint venture at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover on Wednesday, the companies said the deal would entail interfacing SAP business software with HP's upgradeable servers, laptops and pocket and tablet PCs via Vodafone's mobile networks.

Germany Still Stuck in a Rut

The Kiel Institute for World Economics has revised its forecast for German economic growth for 2003. Based on a lack of discernable growth in the first quarter of the year, the Institute on Wednesday said its figures indicated that the country's economy was still stagnating and lowered its forecast from 1 percent to 0.4 percent. It now says it does not expect growth to pick up until 2004. The institute also predicted that German exports would start to pick up again in 2003 after the slump at the end of 2002. However, it notes that the poor situation at the start of the year means that overall growth of exports will remain at a relatively weak 1.8 percent and only improve in line with forecasts for a recovery in global growth in 2004.

Henkel purchase rekindles takeover rumors at Wella AG

The owner of the popular Schwarzkopf cosmetics label, the Düsseldorf-based conglomerate Henkel, has bought a stake in one of its competitors, Wella AG. Darmstadt-based Wella is particularly strong in hair care and related beauty products, and experts say its product range would compliment Schwarzkopf's. The move has rekindled rumours that Wella is ripe for takeover. The purchase of a 6.86 percent stake in Wella gives Henkel a foot in the door. Henkel took over Schwarzkopf in 1995 after originally buying a minority shareholding in the company. Henkel's move now means that it can launch its own takeover from within Wella while preventing other competitors such as the giant U.S. corporation Procter & Gamble from buying enough shares to mount a hostile bid.

Salamander brings in outside help

Salamander boss Volker Grub has called in one of Germany's most prominent management consultants, Andreas Budde, to prepare the company's loss-making footware division, Euro Shoes + Fashion GmbH, for a sale to Dusseldorf-based Garant Schuh + Mode. Salamander and Garant have been holding talks on the division's future, and details are expected to be finalized shortly. Budde will share responsibility for the day-to-day operations of Euro Shoes with the divisions' marketing director, Hermann Hoste. He will also be responsible for restructuring and product placement for the Salamander and Lurchi labels.

Ebay To Turn Over Sales Data To Tax Office

eBay Logo

eBay Logo

Words of warning for Ebay power sellers: Speaking at the CeBIT consumer electronics fair in Hanover on Wednesday, the head of Ebay's German subsidiary said the company would turn over sales data on large-scale dealers peddling their wares on the popular online service. "We have more and more power sellers," said Philipp Justus. However, he said, determining whether or not taxes should be levied against the sales is not Ebay's responsibility -- that's a job for the local tax office.

Ailing Frankfurt Newspaper Asks for Government Assistance

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, the second-largest daily in Germany's financial capital, on Wednesday sought an unusual form of help for a struggling private business. The paper asked the state government of Hesse for a credit in the single digit millions in order to ensure the newspaper's short-term survival. The Rundschau has been struggling under a collapsing advertising market.

Compiled with material from wire services.