In Business News this week: Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty comes up with a controversial plan to circumvent a rise in VAT on construction work; the first issue of government bonds maturing in 30 years is heavily over-subscribed; another company considers suing the Czech state over the tender to introduce a lorry toll system - just weeks before it is due to begin; trade with Poland is thriving, and should rise further with Schengen enlargement; and an unusual order could help preserve the lace-making tradition of one south Bohemian town.
A Christmas advertisement for Vodafone has become one of the most popular ads on Czech television in a long time. It stars one of the country's leading comics - and Chihuahuas wearing fake antlers. Evidently capitalising on the fact the ad is such a hit, Vodafone has, guerrilla style, placed antlers on the outdoor advertisements of rival mobile operators.
In Business News: Radiokomunikace fetches the highest price ever recorded in the purchase of a private company in this country; the strategically important state company Skodaexport is to be put up for sale; Skoda Auto produces its 500,000th car this year; the transport minister casts doubt on the ability of Kapsch to launch on time an electronic toll system for trucks; environmentalists strike an "historic" deal with Hyundai; and how much do you think the average Czech is planning to spend this Christmas?
The 10 newest members of the European Union stand to receive a huge cash injection from non-member Switzerland this weekend if Swiss voters approve controversial government plans for a one billion Swiss franc (630 million euro) grant. About half of the 10-year development package would go to Poland, ahead of Hungary and the Czech Republic, but the plan is opposed by right-wing isolationists in Switzerland who sought the referendum. The grant would be spent on chosen projects, ranging from fighting corruption, health care, cleaning up the environment, to promoting private enterprise including investment in small and medium sized companies.
Vietnamese-owned grocery stores have become a feature of cities across the Czech Republic. They're cheap, stock good-quality produce, and they stay open late. And according to a report in the Czech Business Weekly, Vietnamese small traders could be about to consolidate their place on the Czech market by opening chains of grocery stores. Rob Cameron has this report.
In Business News: road haulage is the "riskiest" sector due to increased competition after EU accession; the Delvita supermarket chain is bought out by German company; two Czech firms launch legal music downloads; a Brno company wins a large contract in Iraq; sugar beet growers plan to stage protests over closures; and tourism accounts for over 3 percent of Czech GDP.
Coming up in this week's business news, Czechs help block an EU proposal to raise tax on beer, Budvar wins a trademark battle in Portugal, Delvita supermarkets announce they're shutting up shop, the Czech crown sets a new record against the euro, minority shareholders call for halt in Unipetrol privatisation, Czech perceptions of corruption decline and the World Bank says setting up a Czech company takes 24 days - over a week longer than the OECD average.
The Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize is selling all of its 96 Delvita supermarkets in the Czech Republic and leaving the country. The supermarket chain said Thursday its net profit had more than halved in the third quarter mainly due to its Czech business, which had prompted the decision to sell. Company chief executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers said the divestment would allow Delhaize to focus on higher opportunity markets."
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