In Business News: A Russian consortium is reportedly the most likely to win an upcoming tender on the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant; sources report an uptick in Russian FDI; Czech Railways announces the aim to sell off property worth 90 million crowns; the first Škoda Citigo – a new small vehicle intended for zipping in-and-out of city traffic –rolls off the assembly line; and, the transport minister proposes a new fee for vanity licence plates.
The lower house of Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill introducing criminal liability of firms, which would enable courts to fine them, seize their property or even abolish them for serious offences. Under the amendment the chamber of deputies extended the list of crimes for which business entities can be punished to around 80. The government proposed bill will still need to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by the president.
Police in Ústí nad labem, North Bohemia, are investigating the death of 45-year-old businessman Jiří Čaník, a witness in a case of suspected corruption who was found dead in his home in July, as suicide, Mf Dnes has reported. According to the police, Mr Čaník shot himself in the head; the firearm was his own and was legally-held. A paper trail for millions of crowns, which had been intended for the repair of military barracks, pointed to the late businessman after the company in the original tender declared bankruptcy and some 53 million in state funds went missing. Mr Čaník’s partner has told the local media that they had no money before his death, saying that she had had to borrow from others.
Former number two of the Czech energy giant ČEZ, Daniel Beneš, became on Thursday the firm’s new CEO. Mr Beneš, who until now served as the vice chair of ČEZ’s board of directors and the firm’s executive director was elected the new executive officer following the surprising resignation of former CEO Martin Roman. Mr Roman said he left the post at his own request; however, Czech media speculated that a number of reasons might have triggered the move, including Mr Roman’s indirect involvement in the multi-billion state clean-up tender and ČEZ’s opposition to the government’s plan to sell emissions permits. Martin Roman, who became the ČEZ chief executive in 2004, is now reportedly set to become the head of the firm’s board of supervisors.
The Czech Finance Ministry said on Thursday it would issue a pilot emission of bonds for individuals on November 11. The ministry will offer three types of bonds with maturity of one and five years. The yields of the pilot emission bonds will be 2 percent. People will be able to buy the bonds at branches of the ČSOB, Česká spořitelna and Komerční banka banks at one crown apiece; the minimum purchase is set at 1,000 crowns. If successful, the ministry plans to issue standard series of bonds for individuals in 2012.
Investors, politicians and the public were taken aback on Wednesday by the news that Martin Roman, the 42-year-old general manager of power company ČEZ, was stepping down, also leaving the company’s board of directors. Mr Roman leaves his post after seven years reportedly of his own initiative, and will be taking up a position on the company’s supervisory board. Shares in ČEZ teetered slightly on Thursday with the announcement, and word that the new ČEZ chief would be second in command Daniel Beneš. Meanwhile, analysts have gone into high gear assessing
The Czech Republic's foreign trade surplus in July surpassed expectations on continued export growth, but industrial output growth is slowing and the overall outlook is clouded by Europe's economic slowdown, data from the Czech Statistical Office showed Tuesday. The July trade surplus totalled 14.00 billion crowns (805.0 million US dollars), compared with a revised 18.1 billion surplus in June. The market expected a surplus of 8.6 billion. Exports in July rose 9.3% on the year, compared with annual growth of more than 17% in four of the first five months of the year, while imports rose 4% in July, also down from highs earlier in the year.
In a meeting with Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague Castle on Tuesday, President Václav Klaus criticized the government’s foreign policy concept. Mr. Klaus, who received the Czech diplomats in town for a week-long meeting at Prague Castle, said that the government’s concept lacked content, did not address key questions and problematic areas of foreign policy. On Monday, Czech ambassadors met with Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. In addressing the country’s ambassadors, Mr. Nečas stressed the Czech Republic should support Europe’s quest for fiscal discipline, take a prudent stance regarding the adoption of the euro and forge stronger business links with potential partners outside Europe in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. In view of the present economic situation, the prime minister added that business diplomacy was of strategic importance. Mr. Schwarzenberg underlined the crucial role of European integration, a concept that the Czech president has criticized.
Two-fifths of all Czechs consider price the most important factor when shopping for various goods, according to a fresh poll by the multinational Henkel company published on Tuesday. The survey results indicate Czechs are more cost-conscious than Hungarian and Polish consumers. For 41 percent of the Czech population, the cost of a product is the decisive factor in purchasing, as compared to only 25 percent of Poles. By contrast, Austrian and German consumers are even more cost-conscious than Czechs, with 43 and 46 of those polled responding that they pay the most attention to the price of a given product, respectively. The survey also finds that Czechs are efficient and quick shoppers who rarely purchase more than they initially planned to.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has warned Czech agriculturalists against exporting raw goods, which return to the country as finished foodstuffs. Speaking at a major agricultural fair in the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice, the prime minister warned that the country was surrendering added value under such circumstances and said that Czech agriculture workers must seek to integrate themselves more with the food industry. He also agreed with President Klaus’ message to the fair on Thursday that Czech farmers are overly dependent on grant money, the state and on politicians, which he said was the result of the relatively low productivity of Czech agriculture, which meets only 40% of the Western European average.
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