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Breakfast Brief – 5 June 2009

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Table of Contents

ODS, ČSSD fear election victory
Speaking informally to journalists, representatives of both ODS and ČSSD suggested they would rather win the European elections by a narrow margin than in a crushing victory. “An interesting result would be nine seats for ODS, nine for ČSSD and four for KSČM,” ODS chairman Mirek Topolánek said. “We are seeking 8-10 seats in the European Parliament,” ČSSD deputy chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told HN Thursday. Political experts say a massive victory could be disadvantageous for both parties since it may mobilize their opponents for the autumn national elections.
HN 1-3

Klaus snaps back at Kouchner
Czech President Václav Klaus said yesterday that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was “demolishing the democratic discussion”. Kouchner had accused Klaus of “demolishing Europe” by saying the European Parliament elections were pointless.

Cardinal campaigns against ČSSD, KSČM
Miloslav Vlk, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, has called on voters not to support politicians responsible for topping PM Mirek Topolánek’s government, including the Social Democrats and Communists.
most Czech press

Neo-Nazis will unveil commemorative plaque in Litvínov
Ultra-right extremist groups will meet in Litvínov on Saturday to unveil a commemorative plaque to Miloš Reha, a skinhead stabbed to death by a local Romani man in 1999. The far-right groups will then march through town.
LN 4

Teacher dies in north Moravia sphereing accident
A 47-year-old teacher died and a 15-year-old student was seriously injured in an accident involving the extreme sport Zorbing yesterday. The two had been rolling down a slope when their sphere broke through a safety net and hit a tree.
most Czech press

Woman jailed for mistreating child
A court has jailed a woman for eight months for tying her son to his bed and putting a dog collar around his neck. The prosecution, which had sought a five-year sentence, will now appeal the verdict.

Bank announces CZK 500,000 reward after bank robbery
Raiffeisenbank has announced that it will give a CZK 500,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the 34-year-old man who stole CZK 100,000 from the bank’s office in Prague’s Palladium shopping centre yesterday morning. The man, who wore no mask, threatened to detonate a bomb at the branch.
LN 6

Second swine flu case in ČR
A second Czech case of swine flu has been confirmed in a woman who was treated with Tamiflu vaccine at a teaching hospital in Brno last weekend after returning from Arizona. The first local case involved a pilot who had returned from New York.
MfD A8, Právo 1, 7

Towns consider withholding benefits
More town halls in the Ústí nad Labem region may follow the example of Chomutov, which has withheld some social benefits payments to those with outstanding debts, according to a poll by ČTK.

KDU-ČSL wants to curb gambling
New Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda said yesterday that his party would strongly oppose internet gaming and other types of gambling.

Car industry sales drop by CZK 36bn in 2008
Sales in the Czech car industry decreased by CZK 36 billion to CZK 604 billion last year in the first decline in 14 years. By contrast, car production for the period was up by 8,000 units to 971,000 units. Automotive Industry Association head Antonín Šípek said that production levels could reach one million cars this year, but sales would remain at the 2008 level.
HN 15

ING will exit ten countries, but stay in ČR
Over the next five years, the banking and insurance group ING plans to leave ten of the 48 markets in which it is now active, but it will retain its Czech operations. “Central Europe remains a priority region for ING, so there is no threat of withdrawing from the Czech Republic and Slovakia,” a spokeswoman for the Czech branch, Alexandra Gjurić, said.
most Czech press

Budvar transformation postponed
Trademark issues will delay the transformation of Budějovický Budvar from a national enterprise into a join-stock company, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. The move is seen as the first step in the brewery’s privatisation.
HN 19

Bankruptcies up by 60% in Q1
There were 707 bankruptcies in the Czech Republic in the first quarter of 2009, 60% more than in the same period last year and 40% more than in the previous quarter, according to a study published by The Q1 figure includes 351 personal bankruptcies.

Lowest yields ever on pension fund deposits
Clients of the largest Czech pension funds saw record-low returns on their investments in 2008 due to the financial crisis. Penzijní fond České pojišťovny pension fund, the largest market player by client numbers, reported a yield of 0.2% in 2008. Clients of Aegon PF fund saw the biggest return of 3.5% on their deposits.
MfD A1, A9

Household savings far exceed loans in ČR
Czech family savings rose annually last year by 7.4% to just under CZK 2.5 trillion while household debt was up by 16% to slightly over CZK 1 trillion over the period, the Finance Ministry said yesterday.

Experts predict 7-10% drop in power price
Current Czech electricity prices may fall by around 7-10% from January 2010, according to a ČTK poll of analysts.

Czech FDI down 1.5%
Foreign direct investment in the Czech Republic last year totalled CZK 182.8 billion, down 1.5% annually, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Czech firms’ investments abroad grew from CZK 27.1 billion to CZK 32.4 billion.

Cash-starved SkyEurope seeks investor
Budget airline SkyEurope, based in Prague, Vienna and Bratislava, is in talks with three potential investors regarding a cash-flow infusion of up to EUR 20 million, CEO Jason Bitter said yesterday. Since its launch in 2002, the Slovak firm has not posted a profit.

Used car imports down, Ford in lead
Imports of used cars to the Czech Republic fell by 40% year-on-year, with 56,975 vehicles brought into the country between January and May, according to the Car Importers Association. The figure included 8,526 Fords, 7,692 Škodas and 6,293 VWs.

Tykač to invest CZK 2bn in green energy
Coal tycoon Pavel Tykač and his partners from Czech Coal want to invest as much as CZK 2 billion in solar, wind and hydroelectrical power stations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. “We are interested in both the development of our own projects and in acquisitions,” Czech Coal co-owner Petr Pudil told HN.
HN 1, 15-17

Budvar loses advertising dispute
The Regional Court in České Budějovice has ruled that brewery Budějovický Budvar must pay CZK 2.25 million to the Czech Olympic Committee for misusing Olympic symbols in its advertising campaign.
HN 1, 21

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