NEWS
Klaus signs Lisbon Treaty
President Václav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty at Prague Castle yesterday afternoon after the Constitutional Court announced that doing so would not violate the Czech constitution, thus completing the ratification process in the EU. Klaus said that the country will lose its sovereignty after the treaty comes into effect. At a press conference after Klaus secretly signed the treaty, the president sharply criticised the Constitutional Court, calling its justices politicians and supporters of the Lisbon Treaty.
Source: most Czech press

Poll: Czechs believe life is now better than before 1989
A poll published by CVVM yesterday shows that 45% of people think that life today is better than it was before 1989, but 14% think the opposite. 69% believe the change in political regime was “worth it”, compared to 56% in 1999. Over 80% of people do not see a return of communism as probable.
Source: ČTK, Aktuálně.cz, HN 6

School for politicians full of teachers with communist degrees
At least five teachers, including the rector, Bohuslava Šenkýřová, at the private University of Finance and Administration, where some Czech politicians got their degrees, received the RSDr. title, which was only awarded to loyal Communist Party members before 1990, Hospodářské noviny reported. Most teachers at the university hide the degrees they gained at prominent communist schools.
Source: HN 1, 4

Lower house committee to look into organised crime
Yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies established a committee to investigate the reach of organised crime into state organs. The committee will deal with the Krakatice file, which maps activities of the late entrepreneur František Mrázek.
Source: ČTK

Six more people infected with swine flu
Five students of a Tábor grammar school have been infected with the H1N1 virus after returning from a trip to Brussels on the weekend. Yesterday, swine flu virus was also confirmed in a patient at the Karlovy Vary hospital.
Source: ČTK

Demonstration for peace causes traffic jam in Prague centre
Some 700 people gathered yesterday at Prague’s Wenceslas Square on the occasion of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, which started about a month ago in New Zealand. Traffic in the city centre came to a standstill in the evening because of the demonstration.
Source: iHNed.cz, ČTK, MfD C1

Topolánek: ODS should get to choose EU commissioner
ODS Chair Mirek Topolánek said yesterday that his party, as the winner of the last elections, should have the right to pick the candidate for the post of EU Commissioner. Topolánek will discuss the topic with PM Jan Fischer and ČSSD head Jiří Paroubek today. Alexandr Vondra, the former deputy minister for EU affairs, is the ODS’s candidate.
Source: iHNed.cz

BUSINESS
EU Commission: Czech economy to grow 0.8% in 2010
The Czech economy will grow by 0.8% next year and by 2.3% in 2011, according to the latest prognosis published by the European Commission yesterday. The forecast is more optimistic than the Finance Ministry’s prediction of 0.3% growth for next year.
Source: HN 22, E15 12

Transit unions plan strike
Trade unions for the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) announced yesterday that they will start getting ready for a strike, but did not give any exact dates. The unions are reacting to the planned layoffs of 300 people in January and the bad financial situation of the company, said Petr Pulec, the chief organiser. DPP is planning to increase fares and install metro turnstiles.
Source: ČTK, HN 6

Banks to file more insolvency proceedings
The total amount of delinquent mortgage payments reached CZK 12.1 billion this year, or 2.25% of the total amount of mortgages in the country, double the amount of last year, and triple that of two years ago. Hypoteční banka head Jan Sadil said that the bank will file insolvency proceedings petitions more often and that the bank is forming a special unit to deal with such cases. The bank saves money by going straight to insolvency proceedings rather than paying debt collectors, HN reports.
Source: HN 1, 17-19

HSBC enters Czech mortgage market
As of today, the HSBC bank will offer mortgages that exceed CZK 3 million and are geared toward young people with high incomes but low savings with the intent of gaining a 2% market share worth CZK 7 billion within three years, Jiří Zelinka, who heads the department geared toward personal finance, said. Other mortgage providers on the Czech market called the plan too ambitious.
Source: E15 1, 10

ČEZ CEO confirms three bidders in Temelín tender
ČEZ CEO Martin Roman confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that three bidders – the US-based Westinghouse, French Areva and Russian Atomstroyexport – will compete to build new units at the Temelín nuclear power plant.
Source: ČTK

Law imposing high fines on retail chains to come into effect
The lower house yesterday turned over the president’s veto on a law to enable punishing retail chains for their practices towards their suppliers, with fines of up to several million crowns.
Source: Euro.cz, HN 17, 21, E15 8

Kellner seeking Greek phone operator
The fund PPF Partners, a joint venture between the Czech Republic’s richest man, Petr Kellner, and the insurance company Generali, plans to invest EUR 200 million in the debt-ridden Greek mobile operator Wind Hellas and is ready to provide the company with a further EUR 500 million for acquisitions on the disintegrating Greek telecommunications market, Hospodářské noviny reported. PPF Partners representatives refused to comment on the deal, which would help it enter a new territory.
Source: HN 1, 20

Bloomberg: Škoda Auto expects record sales this year
Škoda Auto expects 2009’s unit sales to reach slightly more than last year’s record of 675,000, CEO Reinhard Jung said at a conference in Berlin, according to Bloomberg. Škoda’s sales especially grew in Germany and China.
Source: ČTK

Chrenek wants to acquire fourth insurer
Tomáš Chrenek, the noted steel tycoon and head of Agel, central Europe’s biggest healthcare chain, wants to take control of Metal-Aliance, which would be his fourth health insurance company. Representatives of Metal-Aliance, which holds 400,000 policies, have called the move an attack.
Source: HN 5

Court freezes Unicorn’s assets
The Prague 3 District Court has banned the information and communication technology services provider Unicorn from using immovable property it owns, thus complying with a request filed by Europolis Real Estate. The company alleges that a Unicorn subsidiary that had rented space in the Danube House from Europolis entered into liquidation in order to avoid sanctions arising from a sudden termination of its lease contract.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

First economic lab opens in ČR
The first laboratory for experimental economics in the Czech Republic has opened at Prague’s University of Economics. It is a joint project of the university and the nonprofit thinktank the Liberal Institute.
Source: iHNed.cz

ČEZ appoints ombudsman for clients
Dissatisfied customers of the energy company ČEZ can now write to a newly installed ombudsman, Josef Sedlák, CEO Martin Roman announced yesterday.
Source: ČTK

Producer of mobiles for elderly enters Czech market
Emporia Telecom, an Austrian producer of mobile phones for the elderly, has staked out a presence on the Czech market. It plans to sell 30,000 mobile phones a year, CEO Eveline Pupeter-Fellner said yesterday.
Source: Aktuálně.cz