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a new snag developed in the proposed $200 billion merger between Germany's And Italy's phone companies, presumed to be the largest in corporate history. In Frankfurt, a senior official said his government saw no reason to limit its voting rights in a combined Deutsche Telekom-Telecom Italia, or to hurry the sale of its 74 percent share in the German company. The merger was OK'd in principle late Tuesday by Telecom Italia's board, although it reportedly is anxious to prevent a "masked takeover" by the German government. German law prevents Deutsche Telekom shares from being offered on the market until next year.

Almost $8 billion in loan repayments owed by 41 of the world's poorest countries would be forgiven by Japan, under a plan being readied for presentation at this summer's meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies, the Finance Ministry in Tokyo said. Japan previously had resisted the move, but was reversing its stance on condition that other G-7 members assume some of the financial burden of carrying out the plan, a published report said.

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