German Phone Man Hangs Up

After a storm of criticism, Gerhard O. Pfeffermann has withdrawn from the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom. The move is a victory for companies such as BellSouth, Cable & Wireless, and Veba that hope to break into or expand their activities in the German telecom business.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Wolfgang Butsch had appointed Pfeffermann, one of his top aides at the Ministry, to the Telekom board about a month ago. But both German and foreign industry cried foul, arguing that Pfeffermann would be in the bizarre position of ruling on applications to compete against the state-controlled monopoly while sitting on its board. Butsch at first insisted he saw no conflict of interest but finally yielded. Competitors hope that having won this victory, they can also force Butsch to speed up Germany's painfully slow phone deregulation.

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