News Bites

The German government is trying to block the sale of shares in grid operator 50Hertz to a Chinese company by convincing Belgian shareholder Elia to exercise its option to acquire the 20-percent stake up for sale, Handelsblatt reported.

BMW paid $2.2 million to settle a US complaint that it had failed to refund lease payments to military personnel when they were called to duty. Most of the money will go to the leasing customers. (Reuters)

The houses and offices searched by Munich prosecutors as part of the diesel emission cheating scandal belonged to former Audi management board member Ulrich Hackenberg and former development head Stefan Knirsch. (WirtschaftsWoche)

Munich’s Dero Bank was pushed into insolvency protection by Germany’s financial services regulator, Bafin. The bank specializes in issuing shares and bonds for small- and mid-sized companies. (WirtschaftsWoche)

On Thursday evening, Germany’s lower house of parliament will mull changing a law that bans doctors from advertising abortions, after a physician was fined €6,000 for including the service on her website.

Some 24,000 cases of flu were registered this week by the Robert Koch Institut, a season record. So far this year, 82,000 people in Germany have caught the illness, leading to 136 deaths. (Tagesschau)

A court won’t rule on the legality of urban driving bans for diesel cars until Feb. 27. Germany’s federal administrative court had been expected to rule Thursday on the practice, which would protect city air quality.

Seven German publishers including Burda, Axel Springer, Gruner + Jahr and Spiegel Verlag are creating an “advertisement sales coalition” to counter Google and Facebook, which bring in an annual €5 billion in ads in Germany.

In a speech to the German parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel labeled recent Syrian government attacks on its people a “massacre,” adding she would contact Russian officials to seek a solution to end the violence.

A food charity in Essen is no longer accepting non-Germans as members because foreigners account for 75% of its ranks, up from 35% in 2015. The charity, Essener Tafel, fears needy Germans are being elbowed out. (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung)

In an interview, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he wouldn’t fight for his post in Germany’s proposed “grand coalition” and declined to comment on reports he might take a private-sector job. (Braunschweiger Zeitung)

Last year, Germany approved arms sales worth €1.3 billion to the nine countries involved in the Yemen civil war, a 9% increase over 2016. Berlin’s likely next administration promised to halt sales to those countries.

ProSiebenSat.1, Germany’s biggest private broadcaster, sold 25.1% of its e-commerce unit to financial investor General Atlantic in a deal valuing the division at €1.8 billion. The pair wants to turbocharge the unit’s growth.

Deutsche Telekom’s adjusted ebitda grew a mere 3.8% to €22.2 billion last year, as its vibrant T-Mobile US unit offset its sluggish German business and T-Systems, its troubled corporate computer services unit.

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan said his bank is moving institutional equity investors to its Frankfurt offices in preparation for a hard Brexit, but would prefer the UK gradually secede from the EU.

Workers at E.ON-run nuclear power plants in Grohnde, Unterweser and Stade will strike Monday due to stalled wage talks. The company has offered a 2.2% raise over 18 months, while unions want 5.5% over 12 months.

Germany is the 12th least corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index. Somalia is the most corrupt of 180 nations and New Zealand the least.

Munich prosecutors said they had searched the homes and offices of two former, unnamed Audi executives in connection with the carmaker’s emissions cheating software on diesel vehicles.

A US congressman wants to question Volkswagen executives and probe the carmaker for selling vehicles that were rigged against emissions tests despite a $14.7 billion penalty levied by the US against VW. (Bloomberg)

Markus Söder, Bavaria’s finance minister, is accused of ignoring indications Russian criminals working to launder cash were part of a consortium that bought 32,000 state-owned flats in 2013.

Deutsche Telekom announced that the company’s chief financial officer, Thomas Dannenfeldt, is leaving the company at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Christian Illek, the company’s personnel officer.

Question of Solidarity

Bundestag debate exposes deep divisions over the future of Europe

Angela Merkel led an unruly debate over Europe in Germany’s new parliament that, for the first time, included Alternative for Germany leader Alice Weidel.

chipper move

Following Google, Apple, Infineon plugs into smart speaker boom

The German chipmaker will launch a new product that should improve the digital assistants of Amazon, Google and Apple. Infineon is banking on runaway growth of smart speakers.

Paper chase

German publishers cozy up to weather social media storm

The country's largest media groups, including Spiegel, Burda, Bauer and Funke Group, are ganging up to take on Google.

German engineering

Daimler can’t wait to buy a Tesla truck and take it apart

Following a PR nightmare over a damaged Tesla car, the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles is now eager to buy and test two of Tesla’s electric rigs as soon as they hit the market.

State secrets

Germany is just fine with the NotPetya cyberattack but its allies aren’t

The US shared details incriminating Russia in last year's disastrous ransomware strike, Handelsblatt has learned. America, Britain, Australia – even Denmark – are publicly outraged. Only Germany is oddly silent.

News gallery

In case you missed it

Anti-Nazi heroes, fake Russian hackers, Germany's foreign trade Olympics and a charitable cap on foreigners.

Dieselgate

Class-action suit looms over VW in Austria

Volkswagen could face a wave of legal complaints in Austria over its emissions cheating scandal.

Changing of Guard

Deutsche Börse’s new CEO wants the ‘Drang’ without the ‘Sturm’

Theodor Weimer pledges growth but rules out a big acquisition or merger for the stock market operator.

€2.5 billion transaction

Bavarian apartments, Russian investors and a suspect housing deal

The 2013 sale of 32,000 apartments owned by Bavaria's state bank is raising eyebrows as new details have led to allegations of Russian money laundering in connection with the deal.

SPD Vote

A minority government could win back voters in political debate

"Grand coalitions" have stifled debate and interest in politics. Foregoing both a new coalition and new elections is the best way to catch voters' eyes, argues the president of Berlin's Hertie School of Governance.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

Much about Germany is confusing or surprising to foreigners - and even to Germans. Our editors provide clarity.

economics podcast

Paul Krugman on Germany, Europe, Trump, the world

Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in economics, chatted with Andreas Kluth, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global, and Ellen Frauenknecht of broadcaster ARD. On the euro crisis, he "got the economics right, but the politics wrong." On Trump, he urges Europeans: "Stand up for values" and "don't normalize".

Pooling resources

Bosch buys Uber rival SPLT

The world’s largest car parts maker is gearing up its mobility services, buying US ride-sharing service Splitting Fares, or SPLT. Bosch will directly compete against Uber and Daimler.

SME Power

Mittelstand

Volkswagen, Bayer and Adidas are household names. But more than 95 percent of Germany's economy is generated by lesser-known firms that aren’t listed on the blue-chip DAX Index.

Scared Silly

Costly diesel refits loom for automakers in Germany

VW, Mercedes-Benz and BMW face mounting pressure to upgrade older diesel cars and cut air pollution. An upcoming court decision on driving bans may force them to act.

Family Values

German retailer Conrad Electronic is taking on Amazon and Google

Conrad is among a shrinking number of European electronic retailers. Eyeing survival, the family-owned company is swinging at the tech giants with a new smart home platform.

Tesla Model 3

Luxury car segment

Tesla Model S outsells Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series in Europe

The US e-car pioneer is beating German carmakers at home. Hoping to catch up, German manufacturers have literally dissected Tesla models.

Real Estate

Germany’s hot property market may be cooling off

Party is not quite over, expert council says, but the boom in places like Munich and Berlin may be drawing to a close.

Electric SUVs

Audi CEO says he still has VW’s support despite widening scandal

Audi chief Rupert Stadler fends off questions about diesel scandals and says his company is producing record sales.

Big data vs Big Brother

Germany edges toward Chinese-style rating of citizens

China is experimenting with a dystopian “social credit system” which grades every citizen based on their behavior. The head of an expert panel argues that Germany is sleepwalking in the same direction.

Heavy lifting

Germany’s J.D. Neuhaus keeps strong bonds

How the world's oldest family-run machinery maker, a German Mittelstand firm, persevered against adversity and worked on its magnum opus: the Las Vegas High Roller.

grand coalition

Berlin needs to look beyond Germany for its digital future

Luring in startups is a good idea. Gigabit networks and opening the door to foreign capital would be even better, writes consultant Martin Eisenhut.

up in smoke

Why a German diesel ban is just a pipe dream

Carmakers and some citizens fear an upcoming court decision on banning diesel cars from German cities. Despite the panic, a nationwide blockade wouldn’t be enforceable.

Euro politics

Path clear for Germany’s Weidmann to succeed Draghi as head of ECB

A consensus for Spain's Luis de Guindos to be vice president of the ECB sets stage for the head of the Bundesbank to nab the crucial top job.

Protectionism First

Threat of punitive trade tariffs sends Germany reeling

The Trump administration wasted no time disrupting immigration or slashing regulations, but when it came to making good on its much-hyped “America First” trade agenda, the president seemed to drag his feet. Not anymore.

Eurofighter Typhoon jet flying above Lithuania

Unconventional threats

Europe’s defense systems vulnerable to hacking

At this year's Munich Security Conference, military experts discussed what they believe to be the biggest threat facing Europe's NATO members: cyber attacks.

The noose tightens

Daimler faces growing risk of VW-style Dieselgate disaster in US

After Volkswagen, new reports suggest that Daimler, too, may have known its emissions testing practices were illegal. It could cost the carmaker billions.

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