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BUSINESS

Infineon to get €725 mln capital injection from US investor

The troubled German computer chip maker Infineon said Friday it would make a major capital increase with the backing of the US investment fund Apollo.

Infineon to get €725 mln capital injection from US investor
Photo: DPA

Infineon said it would issue new shares worth a total €725 million ($1 billion), and that current shareholders would be given a place at the head of the line to buy them.

The plan calls for the issuance of 337 million new shares at €2.15 per share, a statement said.

Apollo has pledged to buy shares not taken by the current shareholders up to a total of 326 million, which would represent a stake of 30 percent minus one share in the German company.

The move confirmed a press report earlier on Friday in the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD).

The operation would be one of the biggest in a German company in several months, the newspaper said, and represents a change for Apollo, which normally acts like a hedge fund that buys an ailing company to either restructure it, sell off valuable parts, or merge it with another firm at a profit.

Infineon has suffered from a collapse of the automobile electronics component sector and is already in the process of restructuring its activities.

In the first half of its 2008/2009 fiscal year, it posted a net loss of €662 million on sales of €1.6 billion, the FTD said.

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ECONOMY

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.

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With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.

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