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Breakfast Brief – 11 February 2009

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Clinton: US might reconsider radar base plans

Meeting yesterday with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed thanks for the Czech Republic’s willingness to host a US missile defence radar but hinted that the base might not materialise if Iran changes its stance on nuclear development. Schwarzenberg told Hospodářské noviny the radar might be postponed by five or six years.

most Czech press

Paroubek disavows teaming with Communists

In a report for this weekend’s ČSSD congress, party leader Jiří Paroubek writes that closing ranks on the left with the Communists would be “political suicide” for ČSSD. Paroubek criticises the Communists for failing to distance themselves from the former regime’s actions and for opposing Czech NATO and EU membership and the Lisbon Treaty, citing these as disincentives for governmental cooperation. ČSSD invited the Communists into regional governments last autumn.

MfD A1, A2

EP election set for 5-6 June

President Václav Klaus announced that the country’s European Parliament voting will take place on 5 and 6 June. MEP Jan Zahradil, head of the ODS delegation in Brussels and Strasbourg, said his party’s campaign will focus on comparing various party programmes and highlighting ODS positions. In last autumn’s fall’s regional elections the opposition ČSSD relied on a largely negative campaign termed “ODS minus”.

Právo 3, LN 2

One Czech missing in Australian fires

Czech Ambassador to Australia Juraj Chmiel said two Czech citizens living north of Melbourne were affected by the fires sweeping across south-eastern Australia, and one is still missing.


Habsburgs lose another Konopiště suit

The District Court in Benešov yesterday turned down Princess Sophie von Hohenberg’s restitution claims for the inventory of Konopiště Castle. Duke Maximilian von Hohenberg, Sophie’s grandfather and the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, lost the castle in 1921, when the state confiscated all Habsburg property.

most Czech press

Cardinal Vlk to resign in May

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said he will offer his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when his mandate ends in May. Vlk asked to resign in May 2007 when he turned 75, but the pope sought to extend the cardinal’s tenure for two more years.


Cold weather forecast for rest of February

Frosty nights and occasional snowfall will last until the turn of the month, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.


ČR to grant asylum to Burmese refugees

Sixteen Burmese refugees from Malaysia scheduled to arrive in the Czech Republic on Thursday will be granted asylum. Last year the Czech government accepted 23 Burmese asylum seekers.


Honey ‘bomb’ clears Ostrava Airport

All four passengers present at Ostrava Airport yesterday morning were evacuated after security staff mistook a “suspiciously packed” jar of honey for a bomb.



Transgas head: Weak crown mitigates gas price cut

Gazprom Deputy Chairman of the Board Alexander Medvedev told The Wall Street Journal that European customers will pay on average 32% less for gas than they did last year. Martin Herrmann, CEO of Czech gas giant RWE Transgas, said the price cut will not be reflected in Czech customers’ prices due to the weakening crown. Gas is traded in US dollars.

most Czech press

HN: Property prices to recover toward year-end

Hospodářské noviny reports that the drop in property prices should stop in the second half of 2009 and that prices are expected to start rising again late in the year. Dušan Šťastník of consultancy King Sturge said the price of first-class commercial property has fallen 15% to 20% in the past year, and the value of second-class property has dropped more steeply. Quality residential property has retained its value, but prices in less attractive areas have dropped.

HN 20

Mutual funds shrink, asset management up

Total assets managed by Czech mutual funds declined by CZK 71 billion last year to CZK 244 billion as markets tumbled and clients pulled out, the Czech Capital Market Association reported. Assets handled by Czech asset managers totalled CZK 722.7 billion in late 2008, up almost CZK 7 billion year-on-year.

most Czech press

FinMin names bidders for massive waste cleanup

The Finance Ministry yesterday announced the six participants seeking the CZK 115 billion contract to clean up waste left behind by now privatised industrial companies. Among the bidders are PPF, J&T and SITA, which will participate directly or via affiliates cooperating with other firms.

most Czech press

Rate cuts not benefiting Czech borrowers

Czech banks interviewed by ČTK do not intend to cut interest rates despite the Czech National Bank’s decision last week to slash its key rate from 2.25 to 1.75. The Bank of England yesterday said British banks had passed on most of a January rate cut to clients.


Travel execs foresee more bankruptcies in ’09

With the tourism market experiencing a 25% to 30% drop in business from last year, bankruptcies in the industry are likely to rise, CK Fischer Executive Director Jiří Jelínek told Hospodářské noviny. Tomio Okamura of AČCKA, the association of Czech travel agencies, echoed this forecast, adding that many firms are already reducing expenses.

HN 15-17, E15 10

Kalousek: EU must eschew protectionism

The Czech Republic will push leaders of EU states to denounce protectionism at an extraordinary summit later this month, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said yesterday in Brussels. He called protectionism “evil” and “the biggest risk at this time”.


Budvar exports less, sells more at home

State-owned brewer Budějovický Budvar (Budweiser Budvar) boosted sales by 4.5% last year to 1.3 million hectolitres, with domestic sales up almost 10% and exports down 1%.

Právo 19

Delta to join ČSA on NY-Prague route

Beginning in June, US airline Delta will fly between New York and Prague three times weekly, sharing flight codes with Czech Airlines, currently the only carrier serving the route. Tomio Okamura of Czech travel agents’ association AČCKA said demand for flights to the US has increased since the Czech Republic joined America’s visa-waiver programme last year.


Insurance business up 5% in 2008

Czech insurers collected CZK 136.6 billion in premiums last year, 4.9% more than in 2007, according to the Czech Insurance Association.


Magna buys orphaned Czech parts maker

Canadian car-parts giant Magna will take over Liberec-based Cadence Innovation and its four plants in the Czech Republic and Hungary from Cadence’s US owner, which is in bankruptcy.

MfD B3

Stavby inks Kiev development contract

Czech builder Stavby has signed a contract to build and run a 20-storey office and commercial complex in Kiev, investing more than CZK 2 billion.

ČTK, HN 21

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