In today’s business news: Czech Railways has released an estimate of the damages that the strike caused the company, Prague’s taxi drivers and hotel owners benefit from the transport strike, the metallurgical company ArcelorMittal Ostrava sees profits of 758 million Czech crowns, the Finance Ministry has halted its administrative proceedings against the betting giant Sazka and the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey predicts an increase of employment opportunities by 3 percent in the next quarter.
The number of direct foreign investment projects in the Czech Republic increased last year by 16 percent, according to a survey by the consultancy firm Ernst & Young released on Thursday. In 2010, there were 71 such investments projects in the Czech Republic, placing the country 14th among other European nations. Ernst & Young’s Magdalena Souček said good infrastructure and qualified workforce continued to attract investors. The Czech government’s CzechInvest agency last year intermediated foreign investments of around 16.2 billion crowns, mainly in the country’s manufacturing and IT sectors.
The Czech economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the first three months of the year, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Thursday. The growth was 0.3 percent higher than expected, the office said, adding that it was mainly fuelled by foreign trade with Germany, the Czech Republic’s largest export market. However, some analysts note that the economies of all neighbouring countries grew faster than that of the Czech Republic both in the first quarter of 2011 and the whole of 2010, as lower government spending and household consumption slowed down the Czech growth rate.
Former CEO of the lottery firm Sazka, Aleš Hušák, who still holds the position of chairman of firm’s board of directors, appealed in Thursday against last week’s decision of a Prague court to declare bankruptcy on Sazka. Mr Hušák was fired as Sazka CEO by the company’s trustee-in-bankruptcy on Tuesday. The company, which got into problems over the construction of a multi-purpose arena in the capital; last week, the firm’s board of creditors approved a loan of 500 million crowns to pay for the company’s operations. The news agency ČTK reported on Thursday that this week, Sazka’s revenues rose by 24 percent compared to the previous week.
The planned demolition of an Art Nouveau building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square is drawing increasing opposition in the form of an on-line petition, while seeing hundreds take part in a protest meeting on Tuesday on the square itself. The building in question, 1601 Opletalova, is not itself a heritage site but is located within a protected area. The owners and developers want to tear the structure down (as well as gut the interiors of two adjacent buildings) to make room for a new commercial centre. Other than the petition, few obstacles stand in
The number of shops owned by members of the Czech Republic’s sizable Vietnamese minority has now risen to around 3,000, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Saturday. Vietnamese immigrants own corner shops selling mainly foodstuffs, as well as clothing stores and nail salons. Their combined turnover is around CZK 30 billion a year. While in the past the Vietnamese were known for running market stalls, the newspaper said in a few years they would be doing business almost exclusively in bricks and mortar shops.
The lottery company Sazka is in bankruptcy as of May 30 and its board of directors has lost the right to handle the company's assets which will now be administered by an insolvency administrator. The decision was reached at a meeting of the company’s creditors on Friday. Sazka´s management wants to turn to court to defend itself against the decision on bankruptcy. The company was declared insolvent at the end of March.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority began inspections on Friday of vegetables imported from Spain in response to the outbreak of the E.coli bacteria. Eight people have died in Germany of the infection which has spread to several other countries. A spokesman for the Czech food and drink watchdog said inspections will go on for at least a week; first results should be known by Monday. Meanwhile, a number of retailers, including Tesco and Kaufland, have pulled Spanish cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce off their shelves.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has arrived in the United States for a week-long, business-focused trip. Mr Schwarzenberg, who will visit Texas, California and Washington DC during the trip, is accompanied by representatives of the Czech IT and film industries who will seek new opportunities in the US market. In Washington, the Czech foreign minister is set to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss bilateral relations; the Czechs would also like to start talks on a new investments protection agreement between the two countries.
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