The state phone monopoly, Deutsche Bundespost Telekom, has always been considered off-limits to privatization, but now even some left-leaning Social Democrats see benefits in selling off at least part of it. "We have the first signs from the SPD that a deal might be possible," Free Democratic Party leader Otto Lambsdorff told BUSINESS WEEK. The aim would be to make Telekom more efficient. Its sky-high prices put Germany at a competitive disadvantage. And the plodding giant has been slow to revamp eastern Germany's phone system.

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