In this week’s Business News: low inflation seen through 2015; Hopin taxi offer rides in from Slovakia; two-thirds of Czech companies see corruption as part of environment; Kofola mulls share offer; and legal battle beckons for ‘Little Mole’ rights
The Czech National Bank has predicted that inflation this year will stay around zero before climbing back towards its target 2.0 percent level in 2016. The central bank also said it expects the Czech economy to grow by 2.6 percent this year and growth to speed up to 3.2 percent in 2016. It reiterated that the low crown policy aimed at boosting growth and inflation should continue until into the second half of 2016.
A high-tech taxi war looks to be coming to the streets of Prague with the announcement by Slovak company Hopin that it is launching its services in the capital. Hopin is reported to be the third taxi firm allowing clients to use mobile phone applications to call up cabs rather than go through traditional dispatchers. The Czech company Liftago and international Uber have already started services. Hopin says it eventually aims to have 200 drivers in Prague responding to its mobile customers.
Corruption is regarded by around two-thirds of Czech companies to be a run of the mill part of business life, according to a survey by the international consultancy Ernst & Young. The proportion compares with an average of around one third of companies across Western Europe. The Czech figure of 61 percent is nonetheless an improvement on the 73 percent from a similar survey carried out two years ago. Many companies said they didn’t want to take steps to counter corruption because it might put them at a disadvantage.
A shareholder shakeup appears imminent at one of the Czech Republic’s iconic drinks companies, Kofola. Kofola’s second biggest shareholder with a 43.1 percent stake is the Polish-based investment company Enterprise Investors. It has signaled that it wants to cash in some of its stake and Czech majority shareholder, Jannis Samaras, has suggested a partial float of shares on Warsaw and Bratislava exchanges could allow that and also raise cash for further development. The timeline for such a sale is still unclear.
The legal battle to the rights to use the ‘Krtek’ or ‘Little Mole’ image for marketing has just gotten deeper. The Constitutional Court has cleared two Czech companies to challenge the rights of rivals to use the mole logo. The battle stems from the legal confusion caused by the death of mole’s creator Zdeněk Miler in 2011. Some rights were already sold off during Miler’s lifetime and the lawyer responsible then claimed the right to continue afterwards. But Miler’s granddaughter stepped in with her claim on Miler’s main creation and formed the ‘Little Mole’ company which has already sold the rights round the world.
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