This week one of the largest Czech banks, Komercni Banka (KB), admitted that thieves siphoned money from the accounts of ten of the bank's clients. The money was stolen electronically, when thieves were able to access the accounts via information stored on the personal computers of people using the on-line banking service, Mojebanka. Although Komercni Banka refuses to disclose how much money was stolen, the bank has covered the clients' losses and a criminal investigation is underway. According to the daily Pravo, an international gang may be responsible for the security breach at Komercni Banka. Meanwhile, KB has introduced added security measures for its on-line banking clients; an additional PIN code sent by KB to the client's mobile phone will be needed to access all on-line accounts.
Contracts worth 396 million Czech crowns ($18 million USD) were signed this week in Prague between representatives of Czech companies and a visiting Chinese business delegation. Industry and Trade Minister Milan Urban welcomed the news, saying that new contracts are a positive move because as trade relations stand, the Czech Republic's export to China is more than ten times smaller than imports from China. Last year the Czech government approved a strategy for promoting Czech business interests in China, and negotiations over Czech participation in constructing new power plants in China are underway. In addition, an agreement was signed on a Czech-Chinese joint venture for the assembly of bicycles in the Czech Republic.
Bankas Snoras AB, a Lithuanian-based bank with a majority of Russian equity, has opened an office in the Czech Republic. The Moscow-based holding Conversbank Financial Group, which controls eight banks in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania, has a 50% stake in Snoras. The move is part of Conversbank's strategy for expanding into the EU market, and there are plans to open another office in Brussels in the near future.
The net earnings of Czech gardening and outdoor equipment chain Mountfield, fell to 3 million Czech crowns in 2005, from a previous profit of 9.6 million crowns in 2004. In contrast, revenues from the sale of their own goods and services grew to over 2.6 billion crowns in 2005, compared to 2.5 billion a year earlier. Holding their annual general meeting in July, Mountfield shareholders decided that the company will apply about 1.4 million crowns from last year's net profit to settle the loss of previous years. Mountfield has 51 locations throughout the Czech Republic, and surveys show that the trend towards do-it-yourself home and garden projects are increasingly popular.
The Czech Beer and Malt Association reports that Czech breweries raised exports by 17 percent, to total 1.7 million hectoliters in the first half of 2006. Production for the domestic market increased too, and now stands at 7.85 million hectoliters. The total figures for beer production in the first half of 2006 are up 4.4 percent over the same period last year.
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