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Business Briefs

German discount stores target Ireland, Euro hits oil prices, retail figures show recovery, banks in bidding war, tourism gets a May boost, Munich Re posts losses again.


Irish eyes are smiling due to the arrival of Germany's discount supermarkets on the Emerald Isle.

German discount stores plan Irish invasion

After cutting themselves a five percent slice of the Irish grocery market over the past five years, German discount supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl are planning to crank up their aggressive targeting of the Emerald Isle. Between them, the two rival stores have already opened 46 stores, with Lidl leading the way with 36 outlets. Aldi has announced that it is looking at up to 90 sites across Ireland for possible development. Ireland is a fruitful market for the German supermarkets. A recent market research survey showed that 80 percent of Irish discount food retail spend came from imported goods.

Strong Euro lowers oil price in May

The strong performance of the Euro against the dollar has been quoted as a contributing factor in the cut in petrol and oil prices in May, according to the Association of the German Petroleum Industry in Hamburg. The average price for a liter of "Super" grade petrol in Germany stood at €1.072 ($1.2542) in May, which corresponds with last Autumn’s price -- shortly before the Iraq war caused increases in costs.

Easter spending boosts German retail figures

The German Federal Statistics Office published data on Monday that showed that retailers in Germany saw a modest rise in business in April, thanks largely to Easter spending. The publication reported that German retail sales rose by 0.5 percent year-on-year in nominal terms in April and were up by 0.8 percent in real, or price-adjusted terms. However, in the first four months of this year as a whole, German retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in nominal terms and by 0.2 percent in real terms compared to the same period of time in 2002, the statisticians calculated.

Bidding war begins for German credit bank

International banking corporation Citigroup is understood to have made a bid for HypoVereinsbank’s (HVB) consumer credit business Norisbank, which has set the American banking giant on a collision course with two rival banks from the U.K. Germany’s HVB is understood to be drawing up a shortlist of bidders for Norisbank after approaches from 10 overseas and domestic rivals, including Citigroup, British banks HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland and Germany's Postbank. Sources suggest that another bidder, BBVA of Spain, was less likely to progress to the latter stages.

Sun shines on German tourist industry

German tourism had an encouraging month in May as the first hints of summer broke through the financial gloom that had settled on the industry, according to Start Amadeus, the market leader in package and travel distribution in Germany. Figures for the end of May showed that 13 percent more bookings were made in Germany for travel than in the same period of time in 2002. Bookings in April showed an even larger year-on-year growth with bookings up 16 percent on April 2002 by the time the month ended. The increases follow a lull between January and mid-April, caused by global uncertainty over the Iraq war.

Munich Re posts loses again

Munich Re, the world's biggest reinsurance company, has turned in a fourth straight quarter of losses quoting the sliding value of its investments around the world as the reason for continued poor performance. A slump in the value of its investments has pushed Munich Re to a €238 million ($278m) loss, a figure much worse than the predicted €180 million touted by analysts at the company. Despite this, the company insists that its underlying business was improving after the rough ride the insurance market has suffered over the past two years, brought on mainly by the after-effects of September 11. Since then, Munich Re's heavily equity-biased investment portfolio has left it exposed to the severe downturn in stock markets worldwide.

Compiled by DW staff from wire reports and other sources.