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A hostile takeover by the telecommunications company Olivetti of an Italian rival five times its size moved a step closer to reality when the same regulators who first ruled it invalid, reversed themselves. They decided over the weekend that Olivetti's revamped $58 billion bid for Telecom Italia now satisfies all regulatory requirements. The move sharply limits Telecom Italia's ability to block the takeover. One avenue still open is the possibility of a government veto, although Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said he expects to remain neutral on the issue.

The second major labor settlement in nine days was reached in Germany, as unions representing more than 3 million public-service workers agreed to a new package of contracts with federal, state, and local agencies. The deal calls for a 3.1 percent pay hike - 2.4 percent less than the unions had been demanding. Also not part of the agreement is a demand for Christmas bonuses equivalent to one month's pay. Earlier, the powerful metalworkers union agreed to new contract terms with employers, averting strikes by 3.5 million other workers.

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