In Business News this week: Czechs woo California maker of electric cars; job creation incentives boosted; loans surge shows financial sophistication; Budĕjovický Budvar sees records tumble; and hangover for Heineken-owned breweries.
The Czech Republic is seeking to seduce one of the world’s leading producers of electric cars to site its first European factory in the country. The state agency for encouraging inward investment, CzechInvest, says it is already preparing its courtship of US based Tesla Motors. The California company produces around 500 cars a week in the states. And although electric cars are still high expensive, many states and countries are increasingly offering tax and other incentives to get drivers to switch from polluting petrol and diesel.
Sharp rises in the incentives offered to employers creating new jobs in the country’s worst unemployment black spots have been approved by the government. Maximum incentives per post have been quadrupled to Kč 200,000 for regions where the jobless total is half as high again as the national average. One of the conditions attached is that the new jobs last for at least five years. The biggest beneficiary from the change should be the Moravian-Silesian region where more than one person in ten has no job.
Record low interest rates encouraged Czechs to rush into signing home loans last year. The total volume of loans in 2013 reached Kč 155 billion, the highest level since the housing boom seven years ago. Refinancing of existing loans increased significantly and accounted for around a third of borrowing. This is a sign that Czechs are increasingly at ease shopping around for the best deals.
One of the country’s big three brewers, Budĕjovický Budvar, says it produced more beer in 2013 than at any time over its 118 year history. Production rose by 6.2% compared with 2012. Beer sales abroad reached record levels, helping to make up for a difficult domestic market. Figures from the Czech Beer and Malt Association for the first 10 months of 2013 show Czech beer output down by 1.5% but exports 4.6% higher.
But’s there’s bitter news for multinational Heineken’s bevy of Czech breweries. They have lost the exclusive rights to use the Radler name for popular mixes of beer and lemonade after a ruling by a state office. Heineken argued it had sole rights after registering the name in 2001. Some of the local brewers forced to drop the Radler name by Heineken are now seeking damages from the Dutch-based multinational.