Movie Business

At Berlinale, TV is the new feature film

The Berlinale is leading the rest of the world's film festivals by including television in its official schedule. In some quarters, that's a controversial decision. In others, it heralds a new golden age for film makers.

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News Bites

Strong demand for electric cars has sent delivery times soaring to up to one year. German carmakers and importers struggle to cope as motorists and large companies alike switch to e-autos amid looming driving bans for diesel vehicles. (Automobilwoche)

Daimler has equipped its Mercedes-Benz cars with software which may have helped them pass diesel emissions tests, US Dieselgate investigators found. The automaker declined to comment. (Bild am Sonntag)

A 70-year old man stabbed three young refugees late on Saturday in Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg, severely wounding a 25-year old Iraqi who had to be hospitalized. Police are investigating the attack and released the suspect.

A handbook to help Berlin teachers approach sexual diversity in kindergartens is causing controversy. Conservative and far-right lawmakers in the state parliament say they will ban the manual called “Alex has two mothers.”

Frankfurt has unveiled a master blueprint to become the fintech capital of Europe within five years. The plan’s 20 measures include a talent factory and cooperation with the region’s numerous banks, but is vague on funding.

Germany’s vehicle regulator KBA will recall Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz vans next week because of suspicions vehicle emissions are being manipulated by illegal software. (Der Spiegel)

The anti-immigrant AfD symbolically reprimanded a leading party member two days after what was seen as a racist speech. André Poggenburg labeled German Turks “camel herders” and dual citizens “riffraff without fatherland who are no longer wanted.”

On a visit to Berlin on Friday, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told Angela Merkel there was “no danger” for Italy to have “a populist or anti-European government” after parliamentary elections due on March 4. The outcome of the vote is seen as highly unpredictable.

Senior members of the Green Party and of the pro-business Free Democratic Party said automakers should pay to retrofit millions of diesel vehicles threatened with driving bans. They oppose plans to subsidize the measure with taxpayers’ money.

Looming driving bans on diesel vehicles are threatening the livelihood of many car dealers, a lobby group said, with many used diesels all but unsaleable. However, total vehicle sales rose 1.4% to €174.4 billion in Germany last year.

The German supermarket chain Edeka and several European counterparts are locking horns with Swiss food giant Nestlé over wholesale purchase prices. Edeka has provided stores with a list of 160 Nestlé products they should boycott. (Lebensmittel Zeitung)

Police in Hamburg and neighboring Lower Saxony are looking for Liam Cogan, a Scottish tourist who was last seen early last Saturday during a stag do in the Reeperbahn area.

Nine multinationals have agreed on a joint charter for more cybersecurity during the Munich Security Conference. Signatories include Siemens, IBM, Airbus and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler.

Deutsche Bahn has wrongly blamed climate change as the cause of delays and cancelations triggered by bad weather last year, experts say. Instead, the trees growing along train tracks are the main cause, they argue.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser has stood by his praise of Donald Trump, saying that the US president’s tax reform had a good chance to create jobs. Mr. Kaeser was criticized in Germany last month after his reverential words for Mr. Trump at the Davos summit emerged.

Allianz does not want to insure coal-fired power plants in the longer term but will not exit the business abruptly, CEO Oliver Bäte said, responding to a demand from “Unfriend Coal” activists.

Zalando aims to become a platform like Google or Amazon, “connecting all players in the fashion market,” the CEO of the Berlin-based online retail firm told Handelsblatt.

The youth wing of the Social Democratic Party denied claims that it received support from Russia in its internal campaign against a grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The group said it is considering a libel lawsuit.

Germany should dissolve its armed forces if it is not prepared to make them combat ready, the head of the influential German Armed Forces Association told daily Die Welt, in scathing criticism of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

The head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, warned about military conflicts between Washington and Moscow arising from misunderstandings or miscalculations. He said the risk of war was the highest since the end of the Soviet Union. (Deutschlandfunk)

The Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel has been freed from prison in Istanbul. Mr. Yücel, a correspondent for German daily Die Welt, was jailed just over a year ago without charges, prompting Berlin to call for his release.

Volkswagen denies news reports claiming that the CEO of subsidiary Audi, Rupert Stadler, is to be replaced by April. Mr. Stadler’s management of the diesel emissions scandal has been heavily criticized.

One euro was worth $1.2555 on Friday morning, its highest value since December 2014. The single currency rose 3% this week against the greenback and by 20% since late 2016.

Germany’s wholesale price inflation accelerated to 2% year-on year in January, after easing in the previous three months, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Allianz, Europe’s largest insurer, reported operating profit of €11.1 billion, a rise of 0.4% for 2017, despite hefty claims for a spate of natural disasters.

Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Berlin on Friday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel to try and overcome the near-deadlock between the UK and the EU.

German gunmaker Heckler & Koch has apologized for a Valentine’s Day tweet showing a gun surrounded by a bullets forming a heart shape, which was posted shortly after a school shooting in Florida claimed 17 lives.

European Commissioner Günther Oettinger has called on Germany to pay up to €3.5 billion more into the EU budget each year to help plug the shortfall caused by Brexit. (Bild)

Government advisers recommend Berlin subsidize the retrofit of vehicles affected by Dieselgate “entirely or to the greatest possible extent” with public funds in order to avoid driving bans for diesel cars. (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Bayerische Landesbank, 80 percent owned by the state of Bavaria, has lost around €60 million on €150 million of bad loans to South African-Dutch furniture group Steinhoff. (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Bloody History

Why Berlin museums won’t just hand back colonial treasures

Should Germany do as French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested and give back all museum objects looted from former colonies? It’s not that easy, says the head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

home alone

European Security in the Trump Era

Germany and Europe must get real: Soft power is no longer sufficient in today's troubled, Trumpian world.

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.

reinventing insurance

Germany’s Allianz eyes revamp after weathering storms

After a horrific year of natural disasters, Europe's largest insurer aims to revitalize its business with a makeover, and possibly takeovers.

Editors’ Pick

Election fears

Europe worries over Italy’s future

Concerns about Italy are growing in Berlin and Brussels. With the outcome of next month's elections unclear, political upheaval could be added to economic stagnation.

Dive In

Movie Business

At Berlinale, TV is the new feature film

The Berlinale is leading the rest of the world's film festivals by including television in its official schedule. In some quarters, that's a controversial decision. In others, it heralds a new golden age for film makers.

lights, camera, turtlenecks

Film festival rolls out red carpet for tough topics

The Berlinale will screen 400 films in the next 11 days, spanning the mainstream to the wildly experimental. It's one of Europe's top festivals after Cannes and Venice.

golden years

Ritzy retirement homes give glitz to wealthy Germans

The senior care sector in Germany is booming as the population ages. There are more and more high-end retirement homes offering in-house cinemas, gyms and even miniature goats to pet.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

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

The big five

Merkel's new cabinet

Angela Merkel's conservatives and center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have finally hammered out a coalition deal. If approved by the SPD's members, there could be several new faces sitting around Ms. Merkel's cabinet table, as well as some old-timers. Here's a look at the rumored appointments for the top jobs.

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.

Privatization bid

US investors close in on HSH Nordbank

Cerberus and J.C. Flowers are in negotiations to buy the troubled state-owned bank, whose sale is being demanded by the European Commission. But it isn't out of the woods yet.

Dieselgate

BMW diesels within legal limits, agency says

After the carmaker was accused of cheating on emissions tests, a government agency says it could find no defeat device.

Flying high

Airbus stock takes wing on earnings, outlook

For all the controversy and problems, the aircraft maker’s numbers look good and 2018 may be even better.

Cooperation

Aldi Nord and Süd bridge differences

Amid rising competition, the two German grocery giants are joining forces to market products. But increased cooperation doesn’t mean a merger is on the horizon.

corporate revamp

After a bumpy patch, Germany’s Bilfinger tests new ground

Following years of drifting, the erstwhile powerhouse of construction is morphing into an industrial-services firm.

Europe First

US defense companies fear local suppliers favored for EU projects

This year’s Munich Security Conference will be closely watched by US defense firms worried that they may be sidelined: The European Union plans to invest in joint defense technology made in Europe.

worker survey

VW employees not impressed by management reforms

Two-thirds of VW's 120,000 workers find their bosses "unpersuasive" on the need for change.

CSU vs AfD

Bavaria’s folksy push to the political right

The premier-elect of this conservative southern state wants to recapture political ground his party, the Christian Social Union, lost to the populist Alternative for Germany.

Gas companies

Linde, Praxair merger to undergo further review

Antitrust officials are set to start an in-depth review of the German-US megamerger. 

Company revamp

ThyssenKrupp finding life after steel a challenge

Reaping a profit from industrial products like elevators, auto components and plant engineering takes time the company may not have.

sovereign money

Swiss referendum would change how banks create money

The Alpine country will vote in June on a radical overhaul of national monetary policy. The initiative has little chance of success but the world is watching.

Cheers, Pyeongchang!

Winter sportswear companies benefit from Olympic boom

Images of snow and sun from South Korea are driving shoppers to buy winter sports gear. It's welcome news for store owners, plagued by mild weather and falling sales.

Fixed Income

Fund manager Pimco is back

Three years ago, Pimco lost its star investor and founder Bill Gross, and with him a quarter of its business. Since then, the Allianz-owned fund manager has been busy reinventing itself.

All aboard

German Greyhound rival prepares launch in California

Five-year-old Flixbus, a bus company backed by US investor Silverlake and Mercedes-Benz, is venturing into the US within the next few months, after successfully expanding in Europe.

SPD disarray

German foreign minister post up for grabs

After the former party leader yielded to party pressure and gave up the post, Social Democrats have been scrambling to find an alternative.

Turbulent times

Social Democrats nominate first woman head

Andrea Nahles has been nominated to become the first-ever female head in the 155-year history of the German center-left SPD. Her job will be to pick up a party in shambles.

Country roads?

Germany’s new homeland ministry raises questions – and eyebrows

Berlin’s plan to broaden the remit of its interior ministry to encompass homeland has many asking what that means and where the money will go.

Trade Impact

Trump tax plans on company loans, imports worry Germans

As the US president develops a bad habit of following through on his pledges, government and industry scrutinize the details.

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