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Breakfast Brief – 15 October 2009

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Table of Contents

BIS: Sazka has close ties to state officials
A secret service report commissioned months ago by then Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and then Education Minister Ondřej Liška has determined that the management of lottery company Sazka has close ties to state officials, Aktuálně.cz reported. Aktuálně.cz said the reason for the report was to confirm Sazka’s involvement in diverting resources designated for sport associations toward construction of Sazka’s stadium in Vysočany.
Source: most Czech press

Klaus wants Russian companies at Temelín
President Václav Klaus said yesterday during his visit to Moscow that he supports the idea of Russian companies participating in further construction at the Temelín nuclear power plant. The Russian state holding company Rosatom is considered a favourite to win the ongoing Temelín tender, though one of the reasons for the completion of Temelín was to lessen the ČR’s dependency on Russian energy sources, HN says. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Cyril Svoboda said the competition needs to be free of all political influence.
Source: HN 1, 4

Medvedev denies reports of increased Russian spying in ČR
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday denied reports the Russian secret service has stepped up activities in the Czech Republic following a meeting with his Czech counterpart Václav Klaus in Moscow. Medvedev described Russian-Czech relations as very good and friendly.
Source: most Czech press

FT: Klaus going from provocateur to saboteur
Czech President Václav Klaus has gone too far in his resistance at any cost to the Lisbon Treaty and his stance has nothing to do with preserving freedom, The Financial Times wrote yesterday. The paper said Klaus has gone from the role of provocateur to saboteur. Klaus said yesterday he would not change his conditions regarding signing the Lisbon Treaty.
Source: most Czech press

Police uncover child porn distribution network
Police have uncovered a network of 160 suspected distributors of child pornography in the Czech Republic, the biggest such case in the country’s history, Alena Kolářová of the Prague police directorate told a news conference yesterday.
Source: LN 3, MfD A1, A3

Czech EC candidates want European integration, not superstate
Candidates for Czech European commissioner who presented themselves to the lower house yesterday mostly said they wanted the process of European integration to continue, but that they did not want the European Union to evolve into a superstate. Candidates included Pavel Svoboda, a former Czech ambassador to the Council of Europe; Vladimír Špidla, the current European commissioner for employment; Jan Švejnar, a former Czech presidential candidate; and Alexandr Vondra, a former deputy PM. The candidate put forward by the Communists, astronaut Vladimír Remek, did not appear but apologised for his absence.
Source: LN 3, Právo 2, ČTK

Ministry files criminal complaint in Plzeň university case
The Education Ministry has filed a criminal complaint in the case of plagiarised dissertations at the University of West Bohemia law faculty, Education Minister Miroslava Kopicová said yesterday. The ministry called on the university to look into roughly 400 cases where law degrees were awarded to students in a shorter-than-usual time.
Source: most Czech press

US Vice President Biden coming to Prague next Friday
US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Prague on 23 October for a meeting with Czech politicians. Reports say Biden will be trying to convince local leaders that the US regards central Europe as important even as it scrapped plans to build an anti-missile radar station on Czech territory.
Source: ČTK

BCG: ČEZ among top 10 world companies
US company Boston Consulting Group named ČEZ among a list of top 10 global companies in terms of growth from 2004 to 2008. The study ranked companies by increases in both share price and dividends, with ČEZ placing ninth out of almost 700 companies. The top firm was Korean chemical plant OCI, whose shares yielded 73% on average per year. ČEZ shares yielded 43.9%.
Source: HN 1, 17

EC: Czech public finances among worst in EU
The condition of Czech public finances is still among the worst in the European Union and the European Commission continues to rank the country among the most risky, a category the country has been in since 2006, the commission said yesterday. It said Czech public finances are barely sustainable in the long run unless major reforms are carried out.
Source: LN 1, 13, E15 14

Beer likely to get more expensive next year
Hospodářské noviny reports that breweries are planning to raise prices in January to cover the increase in excise tax that was introduced as part of the recent austerity package. Černá Hora brewery is the only brewer so far to publicly announce an increase. Pilsner brewery spokesman Jiří Mareček said any increase in excise taxes would likely have to be fully reflected in beer prices.
Source: HN 17

Experts: Housing prices will stabilise next year
Average housing prices will stop falling next year and will stabilise or even rise slightly depending on the location, real estate experts said yesterday at a conference organised by the web magazine Stavební fórum (Construction Forum).
Source: ČTK

RWE to build first power plant
The country’s leading gas supplier, RWE Transgas, plans to build its first steam-gas power plant near Mochov in the Čelákovice region, company spokesman Martin Chalupský told E15. The dates and expected costs of construction have not yet been made public.
Source: E15 1, 11

Chinese investors eye ČR
According to a report by Czechinvest, Chinese businesses are interested in acquiring technological firms in the Czech Republic as part of a larger expansion into Europe. Jaromír Černík, who leads Czechinvest’s south-eastern Asia operations, said Chinese firms have plenty of capital and Czech businesses are seeking foreign investors.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

Fischer Air has two Boeings for sale
Debtors of the bankrupt carrier Fischer Air (later Charter Air) have agreed to sell their only asset: two Boeing aircraft. The planes have been parked at the Prague Airport for four years and parking fees are expected to reach around CZK 30 million. Bankruptcy administrator Antonín Janák said one plane could bring in as much as USD 1 million, though the amount could have been USD 4 million had the debtors agreed to sell earlier.
Source: HN 17

Retail sales fall 3.5% in August
Czech retail sales dropped 3.5% in August for their eleventh monthly drop in a row, following a year-on-year decline of 4.9% in July, the Czech Statistical Office said yesterday.
Source: most Czech press

Mero: Power failure in Ukraine will not affect oil flow to ČR
A power failure in western Ukraine halted supplies of Russian oil to Europe via the southern part of the Druzhba pipeline, representatives from the two countries said yesterday. According to Russian oil pipeline operator Transneft, the outage could affect Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Vít Tůma of Mero, which operates the Czech part of the Druzhba, said however the Czech Republic would not be affected.
Source: ČTK,

Johnson Controls leaving Czech market
US company Johnson Controls, one of the world’s largest makers of auto parts, is moving its production of car seats for Volvo from a plant in Benátky nad Jizerou to Sweden, according to a report in Aktuálně.cz citing representatives of the Kovo trade union. The company did not comment on the report.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

ČR selling more emission allowances
Environment Minister Ladislav Miko yesterday signed a contract to sell five million emission credits to Spain at an undisclosed price. Later this year, the ministry plans to sell carbon credits to a Japanese company. The Czech Republic has a total of 100 million units available for sale, with the sales planned to bring in a minimum of CZK 10 billion.
Source: ČTK

Govt could lift proposal for Friday lorry ban
The hauliers association Česmad Bohemia, PM Jan Fischer and Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka said yesterday the cabinet could scrap a bill that would introduce a full-year ban on Friday lorry transport. The government would raise road toll rates instead.
Source: LN 15, Právo 15

Lasselsberger to close two plants
Tilemaker Lasselsberger will close two production facilities in Rakovník and lay off 220 workers as of January. Spokeswoman Pavla Nováková said part of the reason was a decline in sales.
Source: ČTK

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