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Business

Business Briefs

Telekom protects its favorite letter; health insurers under the weather; ProSiebenSat1 deal goes through; German chamber of commerce gets happy.

Telekom campaign done to a T

In an unprecedented legal campaign, Deutsche Telekom is trying to protect its trademark "T" symbol. According to the Berliner Zeitung, the concern is trying to get exclusive rights to use the beginning letter "T" as a possible symbol for firms and products. Already, the company has reserved Internet addresses, "T-Beutel" ("T-bag," referring to tea bags) and T-Wurst (referring to a kind of German sausage called tea wurst.) Says Stephan Althoff, head of marketing and advertising at Telekom, whoever wants to have a "forward looking branding strategy " can not avoid registering such Internet addresses. In the end of the day, there are "many pirates" who are glad to make off with product names, Althoff said. The relevant domain names are registered under Telekom's name at Denic, the allocation site for German Internet addresses.

German health insurers plan job cuts

Due to increased administrative costs, some public medical-insurance companies are considering personnel reductions and branch-office closings. The AOK medical insurance company in Brandenburg is considering layoffs, AOK spokesman Jörg Trinogga told the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper. With some 2,000 employees, AOK is one of the biggest employers in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin. The paper also said that the Barmer insurance company plans further branch closings despite having already let go 1,300 employees and closed 300 branches since 1999. And the Association of Insurance Companies told the newspaper it expects further branch closings and layoffs to hit the industry.

Giant German broadcaster sold to U.S. businessman

Germany's largest free-to-air broadcaster, ProSiebenSat1, is being sold to U.S. billionaire Haim Saban, after a last minute competitive bid from holding company Apax failed to take the prize. The creditors of insolvent KirchMedia decided on Saban Tuesday, just months after a previous failed bid by the Egyptian-born film producer. In the first attempt, in June, negotiations with KirchMedia management fell apart in part over financing questions. Now, Saban has brought five financial investors on board, plans to pay sooner, and will increase the cash component of the offer, people close to the negotiations told ARD television. Details of the transaction were not revealed, but the deal was expected to be completed in the next few days, a KirchMedia spokesman said. While the last minute Apax bid was for more money, those close to the deal said its offer came attached to conditions. KirchMedia had made it clear that they wouldn't accept special conditions.

DIHK celebrates training positions success.

An ongoing effort by German business to create needed training positions appears to be beginning to bear fruit. This year, significantly fewer new training-position applications were submitted than last year, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commmerce (DIHK) told Reuters news agency Tuesday in Berlin. The number of people seeking training positions on July 31 – 194,000 – was 5.9 percent less than a year earlier, the DIHK said. Nonetheless, it is still unlikely that there will be enough training positions available for all applicants. "We don't expect the gap to close entirely, given the current economic situation," DIHK training expert Günter Lambertz said. But he doesn't agree with the German Labor Office that said there would be a lack of up to 70,000 training positions this year. "We are a little more optimistic on that score," Lambertz says.