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Breakfast Brief – 24 June 2009

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Table of Contents

Klaus wants last word on Lisbon
President Václav Klaus told Czech Radio yesterday that he will be the last official in Europe to act on the Lisbon Treaty. Klaus said he will wait for rulings by the Czech and German constitutional courts, the results of the Irish referendum and Poland’s decision on the pact before making his call. The president also asserted that the replacement of Mirek Topolánek’s government with Jan Fischer’s caretaker cabinet has not affected the “quality” of the Czech EU presidency.
LN 1, 3, Právo 1, 2, ČTK

HN: New visa portal complicates application process
Foreigners from 16 countries who have to apply for Czech long-term visas through – the website launched by the Foreign Ministry on 1 June to make the visa process more transparent – often find all appointment times with the consulate in their countries fully booked, while applicants for other types of visas experience no such delays, Hospodářské noviny reports. The head of the Czech-Vietnamese society ČVS criticised the bottleneck, calling it “an elegant way to prevent the influx of foreigners”.
HN 4

Hospitals fined CZK 1.5mn over patient fees
Czech health insurance companies have charged regional hospitals CZK 1.5 million in fines for not collecting patients’ fees. National insurer VZP has been most active, charging 23 hospitals a total of CZK 1.15 million since the beginning of April, and is the only firm to levy the maximum fine of CZK 50,000.
HN 4

ČSSD pushes Christian platform
The Social Democrats yesterday announced the establishment of an informal “Christian-social platform” for party members and supporters who want to advocate Christian values. Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda called the move an act of “pre-election religiosity”.
Právo 2, E15 2, ČTK

Řebíček owns property in Italy, Dubai
MP and ex-transport minister Aleš Řebíček owns real estate in Italy and Dubai worth CZK 134 million, according to lawmakers’ mandatory asset statements released yesterday. The wealthiest senator is former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, due largely to his aristocratic family’s fortune.
Právo 2, ČTK

Web surfers to pick ČR Street View sites
Google, which has been taking pictures in Prague since May for its Street View feature, has invited internet users to propose three more places in the Czech Republic to be covered.

Refugee kids lauded for top grades
The Education Ministry yesterday honoured 17 refugee children from Ukraine, Iraq, China, Syria, Congo and Sierra Leone who have excelled at Czech schools despite unfavourable living conditions in centres for asylum seekers.

Orco attracts US investor
US-based investment firm Colony Capital has received rights to buy up to 30% of Czech developer Orco Property Group for EUR 80 million. In March Orco was granted six months’ protection from creditors, who are owed an estimated EUR 1.6 billion.
most Czech press

Analysts: ČR over worst of recession
Financial analysts believe the Czech and eurozone economies have weathered the worst period of the downturn, Hospodářské noviny reports. Patria Finance analyst David Marek predicted the Czech economy will shrink more slowly in the second half of 2009, but the unemployment rate could reach nearly 10%, leaving 570,000 jobless. The country’s GDP declined 3.4% in the first quarter as exports and industrial production plunged.
HN 3

ČEZ starts electric car campaign
Power giant ČEZ yesterday announced plans to purchase 50 to 100 electric cars by 2012 and test them in Prague and Ostrava. The first 10 will be bought by mid-2010 and loaned for free to NGOs.
most Czech press

Frozen food firm Nowaco for sale
CCMP Capital Advisors is planning to sell Czech frozen food producer and distributor Nowaco and its subsidiaries in Hungary and Slovakia. Reuters reports that the value of the transaction could reach CZK 6.5 billion. Dozens of potential buyers are reportedly interested in Nowaco, but the firm refused to provide any details before completing the deal.
HN 1, 15

Wizz boosts presence at Prague Airport
Hungary’s Wizz Air will launch flights from Prague to Treviso near Venice in September. The firm now links Prague with 14 European cities and hopes to take over from Slovakia’s SkyEurope as Prague’s No 1 low-cost airline.
E15 8, MfD B3, ČTK

Prague flight stuck in Paris over debts
A Prague-bound SkyEurope aircraft held by Paris-Orly Airport on Monday remained grounded for another day yesterday. The airport contends the Slovak airline owes it money.
Právo 1, 4

Bankruptcy filing, lost India project bedevil PA Export
Hospodářské noviny details the struggles of industrial parts seller PA Export, the successor to state-owned Škodaexport, which faces insolvency proceedings filed last week by Siemens Engineering. PA Export saw loans worth CZK 200 million blocked in April due to a legal dispute, and the firm is in arbitration over a lost USD 1 billion contract with India. Company head Štěpán Sádecký said PA can still overcome its problems, noting that it is negotiating better prices for two of its projects in Pakistan.
HN 15, 18

Banks to get better conditions for export loans
A bill now before the Senate would authorise commercial banks to make loans directly to state supported export companies, which get lower interest rates. Currently such loans must be refinanced through the Czech Export Bank. Under the measure the state would make up the difference in interest rates, allowing banks to maintain their profit margin on the transactions.
E15 10

Holiday prices down 12%
The cost of holiday trips abroad were 12% below last year’s levels in May and early June, according to a survey by the AČCKA tourism association and holiday reseller
LN 15, ČTK

Poland’s Allegro buys
Allegro Group, the Poland-based owner of online auction website and real estate portal, has bought a share in hotel reservation portal Neither party disclosed the amount of the transaction.
HN 19

Prague ranked among shopping havens
A survey by Jones Lang LaSalle and Experian ranks Prague the 13th most attractive city for retailers in Europe and No 1 in central Europe, measured by consumer spending and rents.

Biofuel refinery opens in Lovosice
Preol, a subsidiary of Agrofert, yesterday opened a CZK 1.6 million biofuel plant in Lovosice. The facility will process 40% of all Czech rapeseed and produce some 100,000 tonnes of rapeseed methyl ester.

Moravian auto supplier goes bust
A Brno court has ordered the liquidation of Magneton, a Kroměříž-based supplier of electric parts for cars that entered administration in early May. Creditors have until 31 July to file claims.
HN 19

Poll: Half of Czech firms planning layoffs
A June survey by the Confederation of Industry shows 46% of Czech companies plan to cut jobs to mitigate the effects of the downturn, a slight improvement from 50% in April.

Pilsner Urquell starts export in tanks
Plzeňský Prazdroj now exports tank beer to two outlets in Bratislava and one in Vienna. The stainless steel tanks hold five or 10 hectolitres, with a polypropylene sack inside preventing the beer from coming into contact with air.

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