In Business News: the Czech National Bank has moved to weaken the crown, interest rates have been left unchanged at an all-time low, the PPF investment group has signed a deal to buy a majority stake in Telefonica Czech Republic and the clothing retail chain C&A is curbing its expansion plans after seeing a drop in profits.
The Czech Republic has dropped by seven places to rank 75th out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s index on the ease of doing business, released on Monday. The report ranks countries according to 10 areas including business regulation, tax collection and obstacles for start-up firms. The report says that over the past year, the Czech Republic has progressed in two of the areas – trading across borders and resolving insolvency. However, its ranking dropped for seven areas including starting a business and property registration.
In Business News this week: Confidence in the economy is up, not least in manufacturing and the automotive industry; the online giant Amazon will open two major warehouses in the Czech Republic, bringing up to 10,000 new jobs; controls reveal problems with imported poultry; Czech engineers will build a new brewery in Ethiopia; internet sales up by 15 percent year-on-year.
The American internet shopping giant Amazon will set up its Central European distribution center in the small town of Dobrovíz near Prague’s Václav Havel airport, according to the E15 daily. Most likely, Amazon will build a new 1,000-square meter space with the help of the developer company Panattoni, which already has a large storage complex in Dobrovíz. Although neither Panattoni nor Amazon have confirmed the deal, the only other company competing for this contract told E15 that they are out of the running. Amazon is planning to employ around 1,000 people in its new distribution center, which it plans to open in a year’s time.
The person most likely to become the Czech Republic’s next finance minister has set off a debate about the country’s foreign policy priorities. Speaking at an economic forum, Jan Mládek of the Social Democrats said criticism of Russia and China could cost thousands of Czech jobs. Critics say human rights have to come before exports.
One of the front-runners in the upcoming Czech lower house elections is the newly-formed grouping ANO which polls suggest might take as much as 14 percent of the vote. Founded by the Slovak food magnate Andrej Babiš, the group only revealed its detailed policies rather late in the race. In this edition of Marketplace, I discuss ANO’s economic programme with Ivan Pilný, the party’s economic expert and former Microsoft CEO for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I began by asking him if he agreed with Andrej Babiš’ view that the Czech Republic needs
Billionaire Petr Kellner’s PPF Group NV is in talks to acquire the Czech Republic’s biggest telephone company, potentially putting an end to eight years of control by Spanish carrier Telefonica SA, the Bloomberg news agency reports. Telefonica has been exploring strategic options for its 69 percent stake in Telefonica Czech Republic AS and according to an unnamed source cited in the Bloomberg report PPF is currently the only bidder for the holding, which has a market value of 3.9 billion dollars.
The heads of nine major European power companies including the Czech firm ČEZ have warned that the EU’s energy policies are putting the bloc’s power supplies at risk. The companies’ representatives said in Brussels on Friday that the EU’s energy sector was no longer competitive, due to failed policies such as subsiding renewable sources of energy. The firms also called on EU leaders to take steps to guarantee the continent’s energy security. These include the creation of single energy market with centralized supervision.
The coal and coke producer New World Resources (NWR) is planning to sell off the OKK coking plant in the Ostrava region by the end of the year. Although the final decision on the sale is yet to be approved by its shareholders, the company says it believes the move will be met with approval since it will help NWR consolidate its operation and focus more on mining. NWR recently came under a lot of criticism after its subsidiary company OKD announced the decision to shut down the Paskov coal mine by the end of next year.
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