Business Briefs | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 16.06.2003
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Business Briefs

KirchMedia creditors plan to sell company piecemeal; Boris Becker ordered back to court and a leading economist tells Germans to do their part for labor market reforms by cutting back on vacation time.


Rolls and rolls of film are up for sale by KirchMedia after the company faces liquidation.

KirchMedia creditors opt for liquidation

More than a year after filing for insolvency, Germany’s heavily indebted media empire KirchMedia is on the verge of liquidation. A spokesman for the bankrupt company said on Monday that after failing to find a buyer, creditors had opted to sell off piecemeal the company’s vast holding of 10,000 films and 40,000 hours of TV series. The company’s 52.5 percent stake in ProSiebenSAT1, Germany’s largest private television group, is excluded from the liquidation process and will be transferred to an intermediary holding company. The fate of KirchMedia was sealed at the beginning of June when would-be buyer U.S. billionaire and film producer Haim Saban pulled out of the deal after months of haggling over the price.

Deutsche Bahn offers escorts for small kids traveling alone

For years airlines have been offering special services for children flying unaccompanied. Parents simply put their kids on the plane and could be assured their offspring would get off at the destination. For train travel it wasn’t so easy, especially when the train stopped at several stations. But now the trains are beginning to get on board. Starting June 15, Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, will offer its "Kids on Tour" service. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 will be able to travel on holidays and Sundays on selected routes in the accompanied by personnel trained in childcare service. Each Bahn employee will be in charge of chaperoning 5-6 kids during the route and at transfers. The pilot project is an attempt to improve customer relations at a time when the company is competing against discount airlines for customers.

VW recalls 6,800 minivans

Europe’s largest auto manufacturer, Volkswagen, is recalling 6,800 of its new Touran minivans to change defective parts in the cooling system. A spokesperson for VW said the company had discovered a faulty piece in the van’s condenser during a routine check. Production of the Touran, which has been on the market since March, was stopped once already in May after the same technical defect was discovered. The Wolsburg-based company has set high hopes on the new van and expects to sell 130,000 models this year.

Boris Becker heads back to court

Boris Becker

Boris Becker

It’s back to court for three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. But this time the legendary tennis player will be facing off in a civil rather than criminal court. Next September Becker will be called to testify in a case brought against him after his Internet sports portal, Sportgate, went bankrupt in June 2001. Administrators of the site are demanding €1.5 million ($1.77 million) in damages and interest from the retired tennis star, who failed to cover his losses when the company went belly-up, according to Focus magazine. Becker has been in and out of the legal court in recent years and was slapped with a two-year suspended jail sentence and a €3 million fine last October after a Munich court found him guilty of tax evasion.

Deutsche Bank's chief economist calls for fewer holidays

According to Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, Norbert Walter, German companies could reduce their non-wage labor costs by slashing vacation days and holidays. In an interview with the Stuttgarter Nachrichten over the weekend , Norbert said offering employees fewer paid holidays and vacation would be a sure-fire way to lower high labor costs. Everyone is convinced that non-wage costs are too high and hinder economic competition in Germany, Norbert added while cautioning that the idea of taking away vacation days has for been a taboo subject in Germany for far too long. With an average of 30 days vacation each year, German employees get more time off than any other country in Europe. Economic growth, meanwhile, lags far behind that of most other EU countries.

Compiled with information from wire services.

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