In this week’s Business News: financial watchdog to probe premature results release, economic confidence slips in February; Škoda Auto unions seen toughening stance in pay negotiations; Czech ad revenues fail to shine for CME; and Czech Airlines’ aid flies into Brussels turbulence.
Financial market supervisors at the Czech National Bank say they will investigate the premature release of results by power giant ČEZ. The 2010 results were sent out in error four days early as an attachment to the invitation to the results press conference on Monday. At first ČEZ said the figures were not correct but almost three hours later admitted they were when it officially released them. This meant that those who got the invite, which includes analysts, were given plenty of time to act on the better than expected results before they became available to the rest of the world. ČEZ bosses say no-one was damaged by the incident though news agencies report that share trading was clearly influenced by the error.
Economic confidence has fallen for the second month running in February according to the Czech Statistical Office. The gloomier outlook affected both business and consumers, resulting in a 1.5 point month on month drop in the combined index to 9.0 points in February. The index is still however 8.1 points higher than the depths of depression in February 2010.
Unions at the country’s biggest car maker, Škoda Auto, are stoking up the pressure on managers as they face off over a new collective pay deal. They are threatening not to accept new work procedures including more production flexibility which could impact output. Unions say the company offer to hike wages by 2.5 percent is insufficient and say they will table their own proposals. Last year they won an increase of 2.8 percent.
TV advertising appears to be picking up slower than expected for the Czech Republic’s leading commercial broadcaster. Fourth quarter and full year net revenues for Central European Media Enterprises (CME) in the Czech Republic actually fell slightly compared with 2009. The company’s flagship station is TV Nova which has been battling a sliding audience share. The bigger picture for CME is a bit brighter with net revenues across its six-country Central European core market coming in slightly better than expected.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the Czech government’s rescue plans for state carrier, Czech Airlines. Taking the step, the Brussels fair competition watchdog outlined a series of doubts about the airline’s restructuring plan. These include to what extent an indirect 2.5 billion crown state loan will contribute to putting the airline on a new course and whether some of this cash might not overflow and disrupt competition. The Commission also raised questions about the benefits of merging the loss-making airline and profit making company managing Prague airport. The latter move is a novelty on the European aviation market.