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Business Briefs

Competitor says Bertelsmann encouraged copyright violations by financing Web site Napster; U.S. billionaire Saban says he still wants to pursue failed bid for KirchMedia; Institute forecasts zero economic growth for 2003

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Who will get the film archive empire of Leo Kirch?

U.S. billionaire fails in KirchMedia bid

A bid by U.S. billionaire Haim Saban to acquire the bankrupt Munich media conglomerate KirchMedia unraveled on Wednesday, the second such failure since the beginning of the year. Saban said Thursday that though the round €2 billion ($2.3 billion) price tag was right, he couldn't get the bank to agree on helping him to finance the first €500 million euro payment. On the selling block was Germany's largest television company, ProSiebenSat.1, and the broadcast rights to the extensive Kirch film archive upon which founder Leo Kirch built his media empire. Saban reportedly told negotiators on Thursday that he still wants to make a deal. KirchMedia has been in bankruptcy proceedings for almost one year now following the collapse of the Kirch Group under the weight of €6.5 billion in debt in April 2002.

EMI files suit against Bertelsmann, Napster

Major European record label EMI joined a $17 billion lawsuit against Germany's Bertelsmann on Wednesday accusing it of encouraging copyright violations by funding the online music service Napster. It is the second suit filed against media giant Bertelsmann, which owns the free music file-sharing Internet site Napster. EMI says Bertelsmann encouraged copyright violations through its financial support of Napster. A U.S. federal court all but shut down Napster in 2001 after the music industry brought suit. Vivendi Universal became the first to file suit in February. The plaintiffs say Bertelsmann supported the illicit business by infusing it with $100 million in investments.

Forecast predicts zero economic growth in Germany

The German economy will not grow at all this year, according to the Kiel Institute for World Economics (IfW). The researchers reduced their forecast for 2003 from 0.4 to 0.0 percent on Thursday and said that Germany was in the midst of a recession. "The expectation that the economy would rapidly be vitalized after the end of the Iraq war has not been fulfilled," the IfW wrote in an economic forecast distributed in Kiel. The German government is counting on 0.75 percent growth this year, while the six biggest economic institutes in Germany have predicted 0.5 percent growth

Orders up in April for German industry

German industry saw an increase in the number of orders in April, the Federal Ministry for Economics and Labor announced on Thursday. Adjusted for seasonal tendencies volume grew by 1.4 percent from March to April. But economists say the decline in orders in March and weak early indicators fit the picture of a stagnating or even slightly shrinking economy. In March domestic demand was down by 4.7 percent.

Compiled with information from wire services.