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Germany

Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch Frankfurt

The Federal Securities Trading Office has set up an internet database to provide a consolidated overview of the ownership and voting rights structures of German companies which are officially listed for trading on a stock exchange. Data can now be sought for specific companies or shareholders by the public.

The background to this database is as follows: for the purpose of market transparency and the prevention of misuse of insider information it is important for an investor when making a decision as to whether to invest in a public listed company to know the identity of the major shareholders and shareholding quotas. Thus, for this purpose, the regulatory body responsible for securities trading, the Federal Securities Trading Office, and the listed company in question, must be notified without delay by any person (entity or natural person) who has attained, exceeded or fallen below 5%, 10% 25% 50% or 75% of the voting rights in a public limited company. The notification must state, among other things, the number of voting rights held by that shareholder and the threshold reached, exceeded or fallen below.

However, not only must direct voting rights in a listed company be notified, but also indirect voting rights, ie those voting rights of third parties over which the notifying shareholder can exercise an influence. Only then can a true picture of the shareholder structure be obtained. The listed company is under a duty to publish the notification in a supra-regional stock exchange gazette. It is on the basis of the information contained in these publications, that the Federal Securities Trading Office has now set up the database.

German Banks successfully pass Y2K test

The Federal Banking Supervisory Authority (FBSA) announced on January 4 2000 that according to status reports it had received on the first day of trading in the New Year, German banks had not experienced any Y2K-related problems. The Authority noted that this was the "crowning triumph", resulting from several years of expensive conversion measures. Banks estimate that the costs incurred by the banking industry in connection with the Y2K problem reached a two digit billion figure. The Y2K problem also put considerable strain on the staff of the Federal Banking Supervisory Authority. Together with the Deutsche Bundesbank, the FBSA monitored the implementation of Y2K measures of some 3,400 banks and 1,600 financial service providers.

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