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Business Briefs

Siemens makes a bid for Cycos; dip in business confidence blamed on Iraq war, end to German rail dispute in sight

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Despite shedding jobs, Siemens is still in the market for acquisitions

Siemens makes a bid for software developer Cycos

Siemens AG, Germany's largest electronics and engineering company, has offered to pay €42.4 million ($46.2 million) for German software developer Cycos AG to boost its electronic messaging business. Siemens will make a cash offer worth €5.50 per share to Cycos shareholders, 15 percent more than Cycos's closing share price on Monday. According to a Siemens source quoted by Bloomberg , Cycos management has welcomed the offer and has advised shareholders to accept it. Cycos develops messaging products that allow users to send voice messages as e-mail attachments or listen to e-mails on their mobile phones. The move is surprising as Siemens has been shedding jobs and trying to sell or combine parts of its Innovative Computer & Networking (ICN) unit to make the division profitable.

IFO says Iraq War is hitting confidence

The influential German economics research institute Ifo said that the current war in Iraq was the likely cause of falling business confidence in western Germany in March. Based on a poll of around 7,000 company chiefs, the Ifo index is the nearest thing Germany has to an industrial confidence barometer. Comments made by the institute's chief economist Gernot Nerb revealed that its main business climate index had unexpectedly fallen by to 88.1 points in March from 88.9 in February. Nerb said the war "could well be a reason for the fall" in the main index and its subsidiary indices of current business conditions and expectations for the next six months. The business assessment index of current conditions also fell, down 0.4 from February to 79.2 points. Meanwhile, the business expectations index also took a mild dip down by 1.2 from February and by 8.9 from a year ago at 97.2 point.

Light at the end of the tunnel for German rail dispute?

German train engineers will vote on Thursday whether to accept an arbitrator's recommended wage package to end a dispute that has disrupted thousands of travelers across the country, according to officials on Tuesday. The recommended settlement would give the engineers a 3.2 per cent raise next year. The proposed settlement echoes a deal reached on March 15 with labor unions that represent other Deutsche Bahn employees. The deal will see workers receive two payments of €200 ($216) each this year, followed by a 3.2 per cent raise on May 1, 2004. It will also bring pay for employees in formerly communist eastern Germany up to parity with that of those in the more affluent west by 2006.

Marginal rise in German retail sales

German retail sales fell 1.2 percent month-on-month in
February and rose 0.4 percent on the year in real terms,
preliminary data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Tuesday. In nominal terms, however, German retail sales slipped by 0.2 per cent in February from the previous year's figure. Compared with January, sales were down by 1.2 per cent in real and by 1.1 per cent in nominal terms, the statement said.