Bidding a total of about $46 billion - far more than widely anticipated - six telecommunications companies won the right to launch the next generation of mobile phone technology in Germany. The proceeds from the auction, which went for 173 rounds over 14 days, will be used to pay off government debt, an official said. Six more European nations are expected to sell licenses this year: Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden. Britain and the Netherlands have already raised $35.6 billion and $2.5 billion respectively.
Viag Interkom's involvement in the German auction could affect the sum British Telecommunications PLC will pay for control of that company. BT, which already owns a 45 percent stake in the firm, announced it would buy another 45 percent stake from E.ON AG, a German energy group. The deal initially was valued at about $6.1 billion. BT also has made recent deals in the Netherlands and Ireland.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., under fire for not recalling three lines of faulty tires sooner, said it will complete the 6.5 million-tire recall by next spring instead of next summer. Ford Motor Co.'s chief executive officer, however, said "spring is unacceptable." Jacques Nasser indicated the company will consider measures to expedite the process, such as paying for rental cars and expanding the number of stores authorized to swap tires.
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