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Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim looked on Thursday to have at last secured a firm European foothold with a deal giving him effective control of Telekom Austria, six months after failing to acquire the Dutch KPN. Under the terms of a shareholder accord struck after a marathon meeting late on Wednesday, Slim's America Movil (AMX) will combine its 26.8-percent stake in Telekom Austria with the 28.4 percent owned by the Austrian state. Pending regulatory approval, this will clear the way for AMX to make a public offer for all outstanding shares of Telekom Austria at 7.15 euros per share, AMX and Telekom Austria said in a joint statement. AMX will then obtain "operational responsibilities" in Telekom Austria, which has some 20 million mobile customers spread across Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Slovenia.
Spain's economy grew at the fastest pace in six years in the first quarter of 2014 as it pulled its way out of a long, job-destroying downturn, the central bank said in a preliminary estimate Thursday. The eurozone's fourth-largest economy expanded by 0.4 percent on a quarterly basis, the Bank of Spain said in a monthly report, citing available but as yet incomplete data for the period. "In the first quarter of 2014, the Spanish economy continued on a path of gradual recovery in the a context of increasing normalisation on the financial markets and a gradual consolidation of the labour market," the central bank said. On an annual basis, the Spanish economy grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter, the bank estimated, the first year-on-year expansion in more than two years.
Munich (Germany) (AFP) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Germany Thursday accused of bribery in a case which threatens a jail term for the Briton who has controlled the motor sport for four decades. Ecclestone, 83, has denies charges of bribery and abetting breach of trust over a $44 million (31.8 million euro) payment he made to former German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who has since been jailed. Prosecutors charge the money was a bribe meant to ensure the German bank BayernLB sold its shares in Formula One to Ecclestone’s preferred bidder, CVC Capital Partners, to maintain his control over the sport. At the start of the Munich trial, watched by dozens of journalists, the diminutive Formula One magnate, wearing a dark suit, confirmed his name, date of birth, and occupation as Formula One manager.