BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: DECEMBER 25, 2000 ISSUE

International -- Readers Report

What's Ahead for Deutsche Telekom (int'l edition)

''Embattled boss'' (European Edition Cover Story, Dec. 4) on Deutsche Telekom's Ron Sommer shows one thing: In today's fierce market, the leader of a onetime monopoly has to switch to ''startup'' thinking and must look more seriously to differentiate the company from the competition. Instead of taking the forces head-on, Deutsche Telekom should strike with services that no others offer, especially those appealing to the wireless world. Ron, remember your Israeli roots, and this kind of thinking will come back to you.

Susan Becker
Yehud, Israel

The VoiceStream acquisition by Deutsche Telekom is one of Sommer's masterpieces, bridging mobile Europe and the Americas. It combines different corporate and industry cultures, bringing Europe and the New World closer together. This is a step in the right direction and supports world trade and globalization. It is the continuation of market convergence by loosening the boundaries of continents.

A lot of traditional investors and AT&T shareholders in the Old World haven't understood those dimensions of the deal and their consequences for European and American business in the future. But now comes the hard part: merging and forging a transatlantic corporation--a big challenge for management and boards on both sides of the ocean. It is distinct from the DaimlerChrysler deal: There is no comparison in strategy or concept.

Some questions remain: In the first transatlantic network, will we have the European system (with UMTS, ''always on'' third-generation mobiles, whereby customers are charged only for transported content) or the American setup (with its second-generation mobiles and time-access-fee)? Will European travelers lose their UMTS-multimedia content on the DT-VoiceStream network in the U.S.? Solving that ''technology-break'' problem could mean further huge investments for DT-VoiceStream.

Paul J. Sparwasser
Bonn, Germany



How to Manage an Ailing Euro (int'l edition)

Because of the different interest rates in ''Euroland'' and the U.S., entities that bear the risk of a weakening euro may use forward or futures contracts to lock in exchange rates that are more attractive than those available for an immediate (spot) exchange of currencies (''Business won't hedge the euro away,'' Finance, Dec. 4). In effect, instead of costing to hedge, the spot/forward price differential now pays companies to manage this risk.

Under these conditions, firms that fail to hedge some portion of their exposures are either demonstrating a lack of understanding about how hedging mechanisms work or they are abrogating their fiduciary responsibilities.

Ira G. Kawaller
New York



What's Going Right in the Forest (int'l edition)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) does not hold the copyright on how to manage a forest in a sustainable and sound manner (''Saving the forests for the trees,'' Latin America, Nov. 13). The industry has made great progress in sustainable forest management. Companies are practicing reduced-impact logging, selective felling, and reforestation, and they are using other tools to make sure the world's forests continue to provide benefits for future generations. These stewardship efforts of the industry have been in existence longer than those of the FSC.

Complementing these changes in industry is the work of international, regional, and national entities. These organizations share the goal of promoting forestry management techniques that encourage the long-term sustainability of the forests and its inhabitants, both wildlife and human. In some areas, deforestation has declined by as much as 10% over the 1990s from the 1980s, according to the U.N.

Consumers have every reason to feel good about the wood products they purchase. It is natural, organic, renewable, nontoxic and recyclable. What consumers do not feel good about is paying unnecessarily higher prices for wood products that are ''certified.''

Brigid Shea
International
Wood Products Assn.
Alexandria, Va.



In Business, Skill Is What Makes a Winning Team (int'l edition)

''Team trust and a winning game'' (Economic Trends, Dec. 4) compared sports-oriented management paradigms with the actual results of a study done of basketball players. The researchers found that a basketball team's success depends primarily on coaching skill and player talent and has little to do with the mutual trust the players have in each other. The article concluded that despite the study, mutual trust among members cooperating in team problem-solving tasks in business may still be important. Nonsense. The degree to which I ''trust'' my teammates to carry out their responsibilities does not make them more capable of carrying them out, nor does it make me more capable of carrying out my responsibilities. My opinion of my teammates doesn't make my team successful.

In the end, the success of project teams depends on the capability of team members to carry out their tasks and on the ability of team leaders to synthesize the individual results and apply them to the problem being solved--which was precisely the conclusion of the basketball study.

Perhaps team success in business is inversely proportional to the money spent on sending employees to management-paradigm training sessions.

Craig Rairdin
Cedar Rapids, Iowa





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LETTERS:
What's Ahead for Deutsche Telekom (int'l edition)

How to Manage an Ailing Euro (int'l edition)

What's Going Right in the Forest (int'l edition)

In Business, Skill Is What Makes a Winning Team (int'l edition)

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