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Breakfast Brief – 18 August 2009

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Czechs kicked out suspected Russian spies
The press is reporting that Czech authorities several months ago deported a Russian diplomat based in Prague and told another one not to return from his holiday, after national military intelligence suggested they were spies. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the move as “further provocation” and warned it would damage relations. Neither Prime Minister Jan Fischer nor the Russian Embassy in Prague confirmed the information., Právo 1, 2, MfD A2

Vítkov family rep expects more charges
Four men charged last week for April’s attempted murder of a Romani family in Vítkov were only “foot soldiers”, and police are now trying to track those who ordered the racially motivated attack, Markus Pape, representative of the family, said yesterday. Pape believes some prominent neo-nazis might be charged.
Source: MfD A4, Právo 1

Dead cabbie found in Prague lake
A 70-year-old taxi driver was found dead in a pond in Prague’s Kunratice neighbourhood at 4am on Monday. His car was on fire when police arrived following calls from locals who heard gunfire.
Source: MfD C1, C2

Towns will get CZK 3.6bn in flood relief
Municipalities and regional governments will receive CZK 3.6 billion to remove damage caused to public property by this summer’s floods, Regional Development Minister Rostislav Vondruška said yesterday.
Source: E15 3

Courts not ready to go digital
LN reports the justice system is lagging behind the 1 November deadline set by the legislature for digitalising all communications in state institutions. The Justice Ministry only just launched a tender for a technology provider, which is expected to take at least five months.
Source: LN 1, 3

Transport Min to relax spare tyre rules
The Transport Ministry plans to introduce laws in mid-September that would make carrying a spare tyre optional. The changes affecting new cars only would require drivers to carry a repair kit if they choose not to keep a spare tyre on board. The new law is also likely to increase the price of the first aid kit by up to CZK150 each.
Source: most Czech press

Oil leak delays Wizz flights from Prague
Wizz Air flights to and from Prague incurred delays of up to 11 hours yesterday as the Hungarian budget airline repaired oil leakage from an Airbus 320.

J&T, Hasler tied to offshore corruption
Slovak investment group J&T and Liechtenstein businessman Markus Hasler are the subject ofa British probe into corruption on the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is alleged that J&T and Slovak businessman Mário Hoffman provided the former PM of the Islands Michael Misick with a loan of USD 6 million that remains unpaid, as well as a credit card covered by Liechtenstein company Arling Anstalt, of which Hasler is the executive head.
most Czech press

Moody’s: Top three banks lose rank
Ratings agency Moody’s reported yesterday that the rankings of ČSOB, Česká spořitelna and Komerční banka fell from Aa3 to A1 due to the state’s failure to provide systematic support.
Source: E15 1, 7

Entrepreneurs earn less
Hospodářské noviny reports the average monthly income of self-employed people fell in the first quarter by 2.4% annually to CZK 30,046. Small-business operators currently earn CZK 1,600 less on average monthly than employees. ČSOB economist Tomáš Sedláček said the crisis was seen first on financial markets, then in the business sphere and finally in unemployment figures.
Source: HN 1-3

Experts echo belt-tightening call, pollies critical
Analysts interviewed by ČTK and the Czech Banking Association have all backed Finance Minister Eduard Janota’s proposal to curb public spending and increase the VAT and fuel excise tax in order to prevent a further surge in the public deficit. Meanwhile ČSSD, KSČM and KDU-ČSL all oppose increasing direct tax and budget cuts. KDU-ČSL’s Deputy Chair Pavel Horák said the tax increase would reduce consumption, while ODS disapproves of raising the fuel tax since this will slow down the economy.
Source: ČTK, Právo 2, MfD A2

Office rents plunge in Prague
Hospodářské noviny reports rent prices have fallen for office space in Prague due to the economic crisis. The price drop affects both modern air-conditioned buildings and older premises without air-conditioning. The highest monthly rents in the centre are now CZK 560/sq m, while older office spaces can be rented centrally for CZK 150-CZK 400/ sq m.
Source: HN 13

Bidders back ČEZ nuke expansion
Twelve companies have so far shown preliminary interest in helping power giant ČEZ to double the size of its Temelín power station by building another two 1 GW reactors. The US company Westinghouse and Russia’s Atomstroyexport have confirmed they are among those interested.
Source: ČTK

Former windows giant goes bust
A court yesterday ordered the liquidation of AQ Okna, which used to be one of the largest Czech window manufacturers. So far 321 creditors have filed claims against the company totalling CZK 145.2 million. CCB analyst Ondřej Pirohanič called AQ Okna’s case exceptional, saying that bankruptcy currently chiefly affects small and mid-sized companies, with only 0.5% of active businesses going bust last year.
Source: HN 6, LN 14

Mid-year hotel stays down 8.5%
Czech accommodation establishments had only 5.37 million guests in the first half of this year, down 8.5% from one year earlier and the worst figure in many years, according to the Czech Statistical Office.
Source: ČTK, E15 6. Právo 15

Bad logistics bring down service sales
Revenues for services between April and June were 10.5% lower than a year earlier, hit mainly by a decline in transport and warehousing, the Czech Statistical Office said yesterday.
Source: ČTK

Private investors drawn to real estate
Low real estate prices are enticing private regional investors to plug gaps left by withdrawing foreign funds. Analysts cited by E15 expect the price drop to continue.
Source: E15 1,9

Failed glassmaker back in business
The bankrupt glassmaker Crystalex yesterday renewed some production at its Karolinka plant in eastern Moravia after an eight-month hiatus. The move will get 80 people back to work.
Source: ČTK

Moser glassworks back in black
Moser glassworks posted a profit of CZK 12.5 million for the first half of the year after a greater than expected loss of CZK 35 million in 2008. The company is planning to release a new line designed by famous Czech designers at the end of the year.
Source: HN 13-15

Brown coal firm nets 7.3% more in H1
Northern Bohemian brown coal company Severočeské doly netted CZK 1.78 billion in the first half of this year, 7.3% more than a year earlier. The company’s coal sales for the period reached CZK 5.39 billion, up CZK 473 million annually.
Source: ČTK

MND profit up
Last year’s revenues for mining company Moravské naftové doly (MND) reached CZK 4.3 billion, up from CZK 3.8 billion in 2007. The firm recorded a gross profit of CZK 1.56 billion last year in spite of gradual fall-off in the rate of oil extraction.
Source: MfD B3

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