A pledge of noninterference by the government of Germany removed the last hurdle to the proposed merger of Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, and the two formally announced their partnership. The government owns a 74 percent interest in Deutsche Telekom, which it agreed to reduce as soon as possible. If OK'd by stockholders and regulators - the latter process is projected to take at least 18 months - the joint company would become the world's second-largest telephone utility. Approval also would effectively place Telecom Italia beyond the reach of a hostile takeover bid by rival Olivetti.
Another new multinational alliance would link AT&T, British Telecommunications Plc., and Japan Telecom, a published report in Tokyo said. The Nihon Keizai financial journal said the US and British companies would buy a combined 30 percent interest in Japan Telecom, worth between $1.25 billion and $1.5 billion.