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Business

Business Briefs

Commerzbank to cut jobs; Shares of financial firms drop; Food industry says beverage sales hit by deposit.

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The deposit on disposable cans in Germany is hurting the beverage industry.

Commerzbank axes 3,100 positions

Commerzbank, Germany's fourth-largest bank, on Monday said it would cut 3,100 job by the end of 2004 to help reduce costs. The eliminated positions will be roughly equally split between the bank's Frankfurt headquarters and operations overseas. The cuts also include 500 investment banking jobs announced last month. The bank has been forced to implement several rounds of redundancies since 2001. When the latest round is completed, Commerzbank will have shed 7,400, or nearly one fifth of its total workforce. The bank last year posted a 298 million-euro ($325 million) loss, the first ever in the firm's 133-year history.

Capital woes hit financial trio

The shares of Allianz, Munich Re and HVB Group plunged on Monday, as investors fretted about the financial firms' lack of capital and their tangled web of cross-holdings. The drop was sparked by concern Munich Re, the world's leading reinsurer, will have to offer a steep discount on an upcoming bond issue to restore its flagging capital base. Since it posted a heavy fourth-quarter loss last week, Munich Re's shares have dropped nearly 30 percent. Allianz announced €5 billion rights issue last week and HVB Group has been forced to sell 25 percent of its Bank Austria unit to raise cash.

Food industry says drink sales hit by deposit

The Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE) said on Monday the introduction of a 25-cent deposit on disposable cans and bottles this year has drastically cut beverage sales. The BVE said beer sales fell 9.8 percent and carbonated drink sales dropped 14 percent in the first two months of 2003 compared to a year earlier. The group said the drop had not been offset by a comparable increase in the sale of recyclable containers.