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Business

Business Briefs

EU Commission authorizes road toll system; Deutsche Telekom told to cut rental fees; Adidas increases profits but shares drop and more.

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Road tolls for trucks: coming to a German motorway near you.

Brussels approves German toll consortium

The EU Commission gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom to provide and operate a road toll system for trucks on German motorways. The Commission stipulated that the companies' joint venture, Toll Collect, would have to allow competitors to offer additional necessary services to avoid it from gaining a monopoly in the telematics market. It is still unclear whether the new tolls, which are supposed to come into effect in August, are compatible with EU internal market regulations.

Metro increases profits

Germany's largest retailer, the Metro group, recorded an increase in profits in the first quarter of 2003. Profits before taxes and interest payments rose to €22 million ($24.5 million). At the end of last year the firm was €6 million in the red, Metro announced on Wednesday in Düsseldorf. CEO Hans-Joachim Körber said the company aimed to increase turnover by five percent this year. The Metro group includes supermarkets, department stores, electronics outlets and building supply stores.

Deutsche Telekom told to cut "last mile" rental fees

Germany's telecoms regulator (RegTP) has ordered Deutsche Telekom to cut the price of "last mile" connection fees for telephone lines. Competitors pay the charge for renting the stretch between the Telekom's network and subscribers' homes and offices. From May 1, Deutsche Telekom will have to lower the fee from €12.48 ($13.92) to €11.80, which will be valid until May 31, 2005. The firm had previously requested permission from RegTP to impose a price hike to €17.40.

Munich Re hampered by write-offs

Munich Re, the world's largest re-insurer, reported it had made "significant improvements in operative business" in the first three months of this year. However, write-offs for hundreds of millions of euros again fudged the results, Chief Executive Hans-Jürgen Schinzler said on Wednesday at the quarterly press conference. The firm continued to profit from the strong upswing in the re-insurance market and the stable returns from damage and accident insurance, Schinzler said. In view of low share prices and interest rates, the year's proceeds will have to be generated in the insurance market above all, he added.

Adidas registers improved profits

The sportswear company Adidas-Salomon announced significant increases in first-quarter profits for 2003 on Wednesday in Herzogenaurach. The firm said its profits climbed in comparison to the previous quarter by 19 percent to €51 million ($56.9 million). In Asia in particular, business grew. Adidas-Salomon is sticking to its forecast for 2003 to increase turnover by 5 percent and profits by 10-15 percent. But shares slumped by more than 6 percent after it was revealed that North American orders dropped by 22 percent and sales only went up by €1.7 billion, or 2 percent, less than had been expected.