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Business

Business Briefs

Germany’s economic climate index slows; transatlantic troubles haven't crossed over into business; German Central Bank gathers info on Iraqi funds; Viva predicts profits in 2003 and more.

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Germany's economy is still in the dumper

Hopes for German economic upswing dashed

Recent hopes of an upswing in the German economy are fading following the release of this month’s economic climate index figures indicating a decline of .8 percent (from 88.9 to 88.1). The Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research polls over 7,000 businesses a month, asking them how they would rate their current business prospects. The index had been steadily rising since January, leading some to hope an economic turnaround was close at hand -- a hope which now seems premature. “The appearance of a change over the last two months was not substantiated by these recent numbers," said Ifo President Hans-Werner Sinn. The institute attributed the decline is due to the strong euro, the high cost of oil and falling stock prices -- areas that have been strongly affected by the war. Experts say it’s hard to know if things will improve over the next few months, largely due to the uncertainty of the outcome in Iraq.

AmCham: Transatlantic Business Not Suffering

Despite worries that frigid transatlantic relations may spill over into the business world, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany said there’s nothing to fear. “The political tensions won’t effect business and, at the moment, I don’t see any problems,” Fred Irwin told a crowd gathered in Hamburg for the 100th anniversary of his organization. According to Irwin, there’s no evidence that German customers are boycotting American products. And as proof of good relations, he pointed to the recent takeover of the Kirch media company by Los Angeles-based investor Haim Saban and of Wella by the U.S.-based company Procter & Gamble. And from the German side, Irwin mentioned Deutsche Post’s planned acquisition of the ground operations of U.S. courier company Airborne Express. The chamber of commerce counts more than 3,000 U.S. companies as members, among them: ExxonMobile, Hewlett-Packard, McDonald’s and IBM.

German Central Bank Gathers Information on Iraqi Assets

A spokesperson for the German Central Bank has confirmed a report in the Tagesspiegel newspaper stating that it has asked all banks to supply up-to-date information about Iraqi assets in German accounts and credit institutions that have been frozen in accordance with a U.N. resolution at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. “We were acting based on a request from the government and have asked the banks to supply the information to us by March 28,” a spokesperson for the German Central Bank said. German authorities, however, do not plan to seize the funds, as such an action would require further authorization. Authorities in the U.S., however, have seized Iraqi assets in 17 banks, including a stateside division of Deutsche Bank, according to the same Tagesspiegel report.

MTV-Killer Viva Predicts Another

The Cologne-based media company Viva, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is predicting another year in the black: the production of new TV shows and expansion into other European markets are on the agenda. The company’s president, Dieter Gorny, told the Financial Times it was difficult to give specifics due to today’s uncertain business climate. “But we’re determined to expand to Italy, France or England. If conditions in one of those countries allows, we will proceed,” he said. In 2002, Viva returned to profitability, surpassing expected profits and business volume. The operating profit rose to over €30 million, after a loss of €13,5 million the year before and sales increased from €112,8 million to €113.

Monster.de and IQB career services strike a deal

The career Web site Monster Deutschland (www.monster.de) and one of Germany’s leading recruiting and events firms in the academic field, IQB Career Services (www.iqb.de), have announced a collaboration. The two have agreed to a “mutual presence.” Thus, Monster will gain visibility at IQB’s numerous career fairs and recruiting events -- more than 25 a year including JOBcon, JOBcon Engineering, JOBcon Finance and JURAcom, visited by more than 25,000 thousand job hunters a year. IQB will be visible on Monster’s website, the German branch of which includes almost 300,000 resumes and gets 600,000 hits per month.

Compiled with material from wire reports.