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Business

Business Briefs

Germany tops EU service league; April inflation slows; E-Plus to buy MobilCom's 3G networks; T-Online makes a profit and more.

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Germany heads the EU service league in areas such as car sales

Germany tops EU service industry report

Research by the European Union's statistical arm Eurostat has placed Germany top of the EU productivity league in a range of service industries. The report showed that Germany has the highest labor productivity in eight of 14 services, including the sale and service of motor vehicles, air transport and real estate. The findings, as reported in the Financial Times, are expected to help to counter widespread criticism of alleged inflexibility in the EU's largest economy.

Inflation decreases in April

Data published by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that inflation in Germany slowed in April, largely as a result of falling oil prices. The Federal Statistics Office also reported that the German consumer price index (CPI) fell by 0.3 in April from the figure for March and was only 1.0 percent higher than it had been in the corresponding month in 2002. The April figures represent a slowdown from the previous month when the cost of living in Germany had risen by 0.1 percent month-on-month and by 1.2 percent year-on-year.

E-Plus to buy 3G networks from MobilCom

E-Plus, the German mobile phone arm of Dutch telecommunications group KPN, announced on Tuesday that it has bought the third-generation (3G) mobile phone networks of rival MobilCom for €20 million ($23 million). A statement issued by E-Plus said that the company is buying a total of 3,723 sites for the new 3G technology, dubbed Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), 931 of which are already equipped with the necessary technology. The new technology is expected to revolutionize the mobil phone industry, by allowing callers to send and receive email, photos and video. E-Plus added that the transaction still needed to be approved by the German Federal Cartel Office.

T-Online posts pre-tax profit after huge losses

T-Online, Europe's leading provider of Internet access, reported pre-tax profits of €2 million ($2.3 million) in the first three months of the current year, compared with a loss of €92 million a year earlier. The Deutsche Telekom unit said its net loss amounted to €0.02 per share in the period from January to March, compared with a loss of €0.07 per share in the first quarter of 2002.

Metalwoker negotiations fail

Negotiations concerning a possible reduction in the working hours per week of East German metalworkers have collapsed after only hours of talks. The discussions on phasing in a 35-hour week in favor of the current 38-hour week began on Monday after the IG Metall trade union and employers agreed to meet in the wake of industrial action earlier this year. The collapse of the talks will now pave the way for more strikes, union leaders said.

Lufthansa cancels flights to France as strikes loom

German carrier Lufthansa has cancelled half of its scheduled flights to France on Tuesday, the day when national strikes over pensions reforms is planned, the company said. Lufthansa said as many as 4,300 travelers on 47 aircraft heading for mainly regional destinations will be affected. Lufthansa also announced this week that passenger numbers fell in April by 1.4 percent in relation to the corresponding month in 2002 as SARS took its toll on the group's Asian business. Lufthansa said in a statement that a total 3582 million people flew in its aircraft in April.

Compiled with information from wire services.