Business World

THE JOURNAL RECORD, December 29, 1998 | Go to article overview

Business World


Free phone calls

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's telephone price wars hit new lows Monday, with giant Deutsche Telekom planning to offer calls for next to nothing and a big rival going even further: short chats for free.

Telekom, which is still mostly state-owned, said its 1999 rate cuts would beat the private competitors, who have taken about 15 percent of Germany's phone market since it was liberalized a year ago. Although details have yet to be settled, Telekom intends to slash its lowest, late-night rate for long-distance calls within Germany in half, to 6 pfennig (less than 4 cents) a minute. Not to be outdone, rival MobilCom said it will extend its Christmas Day promotional offer -- free calls anywhere in Germany -- to all of 1999. The catch: calls must be made between 7 p.m. and midnight and last less than a minute. Another private operator, o.tel.o, has already announced price cuts will take effect in February and did not make any further moves Monday. "We won't let ourselves be shocked," spokesman Christian Hoppe said. Stale chip sales TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Worldwide sales of equipment used to make microchips slumped 43 percent in October, the sixth straight month of decline, as cuts in spending on equipment by Japanese and South Korean semiconductor makers took their toll, industry figures showed. That's hurting the bottom lines of many of the world's largest producers of microchip-making equipment, such as Applied Materials and Lam Research in the United States, ASM Lithography Holding NV of the Netherlands and Tokyo Electron Ltd., Nikon Corp. and Advantest Corp. in Japan. Worldwide sales of chipmaking equipment totaled $1.491 billion in October, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan said. Equipment orders, which lag sales by several months, fell in October for the 11th straight month. Stadium names compete DETROIT (NYT) -- He might have called it "Stadium! Stadium!" Or, in a more classical allusion, simply "The Coliseum." Instead, Michael Ilitch, the owner of both the Little Caesars pizza chain and the Detroit Tigers baseball team, sold the naming rights for the Tigers' new stadium to Comerica Bank, which will pay $66 million over 30 years. The ball park, scheduled to open in 2000, will join more than 40 other major league stadiums and arenas in North America that have been named for corporate sponsors -- about half of all the venues for professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey. There are enough, in fact, that the commercialized parks merit a league of their own. So Money and Business has created standings, based on the year-to-date stock performance of the corporate sponsors of arenas and stadiums now in use or under construction. The companies were assigned to divisions based on the locations of the buildings they sponsor, with eight or nine in each of the four United States divisions and a separate division for the five arenas in Canada. Thailand growth BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thailand's recession-stricken economy should grow 0.9 percent next year after shrinking 7.8 percent in 1998, a national planning board reported Monday. Wirat Wattanasiritham, secretary-general of Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board, told government economic ministers that key determinants of growth in 1999 will be export performance, exchange rates and the state of global markets. Exports are forecast to expand 4.8 percent next year in dollar terms, economic board head Wattanasiritham said, after a contraction this year that the central bank has estimated at 6.7 percent to 6.9 percent. Thailand grew accustomed to annual growth rates in excess of 7 percent during a boom in the early 1990s. But the growth bubble burst last year after a decision in mid-1997 to devalue the nation's currency triggered a region-wide meltdown. It also forced companies with large exposure to foreign currency- based financing to go broke -- leaving behind a massive load of bad debts. …

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