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Breakfast Brief – 29 July 2009

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Table of Contents

Rumoured police report ties Janoušek to Topolánek
A report by the Czech supreme state prosecutor which is now apparently in the hands of ODS members presents the findings of anti-corruption police into the investigated businessman Roman Janoušek, including claims that his connections reached figures close to ODS leader Mirek Topolánek. Police have been investigating Janoušek’s activities linked to the sale of Prague Airport. The report states that Janoušek acted as a mediator, taking improper advantage of his ties to the Transport Ministry through then Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček and his former Deputy Jiří Hodač. Anti-corruption police spokesman Roman Skřepek said they are unsure whether the document is genuine or has been altered.
LN 1, 3

Canadian Senate speaker might discuss visas on visit
Noel Kinsella, the speaker of the Canadian senate is expected to address visa issues during his visit of the Czech Republic tentatively planned for this autumn. Přemysl Sobotka, the chairman of the Czech senate, said that regardless of the visa dispute, it was necessary to deepen cooperation on NATO and commerce between the two countries.

Fischer, Klaus: EU should ask Canada to lift visas
The Czech Republic welcomes recent expressions of solidarity from the EU on the Canadian visa issue, Prime Minister Jan Fischer and President Václav Klaus stated yesterday, adding that it was crucial that the EU impel Canada to return to a non-visa regime. Fischer noted that as of today, Canada will only require Czech visa applicants to fill in simplified applications forms. The Canadian embassy in Vienna issued 1,360 visas to Czechs during the first two weeks of their re-imposition. Less than 1% of applications were rejected.

ODS: Communist apology would be a sham
ODS Deputy Chair David Vodrážka said yesterday that the willingness of the KSČM to apologise for its past in exchange for closer cooperation with ČSSD was a sign of the growing unification of the left. Vodrážka said that the Communist apology would be a staged event, adding that no statement could change the fact that the current Communists oppose individual freedom.

Iranian embassy protesters face police checks
Activists who have been campaigning in front of Prague’s Iranian embassy since Saturday were stopped yesterday by police inspections. All four protesters in the event organised by Amnesty International had their ID cards checked before police agreed to allow the protest, saying it was not disruptive. Amnesty International spokeswoman Eva Dobrovolná said her group had discussed the form of the protests with police and other authorities in advance. One of protesters had to pay a CZK 1,000 fine on Monday.

More Czech pensioners, but fewer pay insurance
The number of pensioners in the Czech Republic grew by 20,000 in the first six months of 2009, according to a new report from the Czech Social Security Administration (ČSSZ). Nevertheless, there were 30,000 fewer pension insurance payers in June 2009 compared to December last year. ČSSZ collected CZK 155.2 billion in pension insurance revenue over the period, which was 6 billion less than it paid out.
ČTK, MfD A1, A3

Svoboda: One mosque in Brno is enough
KDU-ČSL leader Cyril Svoboda yesterday supported the South Moravian party members who oppose the construction of a second mosque in Brno. “I respect any Muslim of true faith because he takes his faith seriously, which is probably better for society than not believing in anything,” Svoboda said, adding that although he wants an open Europe, newcomers need to respect local traditions and Muslim countries should be more open to Christianity.

KDU-ČSL announces anti-corruption plan
KDU-ČSL leader Cyril Svoboda said yesterday his party would make use of ‘agent provocateur’ tactical to induce and therefore uncover corruption after the elections. Those who help uncover bribes would subsequently be granted criminal immunity. KDU-ČSL also suggests introducing criminal liability for companies benefiting from corrupt conduct.
MfD A2, Právo 2

Hradec Králové rejects land dispossession claim
Hradec Králové regional court yesterday rejected a lawsuit filed by 81-year-old Jan Tikal demanding it overturn a Pardubice regional authority decision to repossess his land for road construction. Tikal claims the construction is not in the public interest, adding that he plans to appeal. The construction, starting in autumn, will take place around the land in question.
ČTK, Právo 5

PX breaks 1,000 then drops
Prague’s stock market index broke through the 1,000-percentage point barrier yesterday, before dipping by 0.64% to close at 986.6. Cyrrus and CNBC Kirk West analysts said the sharp increase in the market was destined to taper off again and investors will be cautious. Stock exchanges picked up speed across central and eastern Europe, buoyed by better than expected results from US companies, analysts said.
HN 19, E15 10

ČEZ eyes Polish power group
The Czech energy giant ČEZ may be interested in acquiring the Polish energy group Enea, ČEZ spokeswoman Eva Nováková confirmed, adding that no final decision has yet been made. Enea wishes to sell a 67% stake, worth PLN 5.8 billion (CZK 35 billion). Swedish company Vattenfall, which already holds a minority stake in Enea, has also expressed interest in the acquisition.
Právo 14

PPF expands into Russia
Petr Kellner’s PPF has acquired a 10% share in the Bank of Khanty-Mansiysk, west Siberia, confirming the group’s aim to strengthen its position in the Russian consumer finance sector. PPF already controls Home Credit Finance Bank, the number one consumer loan provider in Russia, and it holds a 30% share in Russia’s Nomos bank.
E15 1, 8

Analysts: Czech economy recovering
The Czech economy should expand slightly in Q2 based on the introduction of scrapping bonuses in western Europe, according to an interview in daily E15 with several Czech bank analysts, who also predicted continued growth. The main driver is the fact that companies have started to refill their empty warehouses, several analysts said.
E15 2

Klaus: Cuts would solve growing deficit
President Václav Klaus said yesterday the worsened macroeconomic forecast is grounds for budget cuts across ministries. New Finance Ministry data has predicted the budget deficit will reach CZK 209 billion. ODS Deputy Chair David Vodrážka said his party does not support tax hikes as a solution to the rising public deficit, thus rejecting the indirect tax increases suggested by Finance Minister Eduard Janota.
most Czech press

FinMin sells off stake in ArcelorMittal Ostrava
Steelworks ArcelorMittal has transferred the first CZK 1 billion instalment for its 11% stake in ArcelorMittal Ostrava bought from the Czech state. The steel giant must pay the Finance Ministry a further CZK 6 billion in instalments spread out until 2015. The sale of the stake was conditional on the finalisation of arbitration between ČR and ArcelorMittal, which was resolved in June.
most Czech press

ÚOHS OK’s sale of Sanofi-Aventis drugs to Nycomed
The antimonopoly office (ÚOHS) has allowed the pharmaceutical company Nycomed to take over the sale of seven drugs currently distributed on the Czech market by its competitor Sanofi-Aventis. The transfer of rights to 15 drugs from six Central and Eastern European markets was a condition imposed by the European Committee for Sanofi-Aventis’s takeover of almost 100% of Czech pharmaceutical leader Zentiva.

ČT1 plans HD broadcast by satellite
Czech TV will launch an experimental satellite broadcasting of a ČT1 programme in high definition this September. Experimental broadcasting will be available to all Skylink and CS Link customers. Regular HD broadcasting should be ready for the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010. TV Nova also offers broadcasting in HD quality.

ECE could launch arbitration worth EUR 50 million
German developer group ECE Pojektmanagement is considering bringing arbitration proceedings against the Czech state based on the actions of building authorities in Liberec and the allegedly illegal conduct of the Ministry for Regional Development. ECE could demand compensation of EUR 50 million in connection with its shopping centre construction project in Liberec. The Finance Ministry today called a tender for legal representation in the potential arbitration.

Lesy ČR withdraws bankruptcy claim against CE WOOD
State-owned forest management company Lesy ČR has withdrawn its action for bankruptcy proceedings over forestry-wood processing company CE WOOD. Lesy ČR submitted the proposal in January 2009 based on its claims worth CZK 156 million against the company. The Brno Regional Court should decide on the matter today.
ČTK, HN 13, E15 4

Czech Post plans upgrade
Czech Post is planning to update its logistical system and will launch a tender to organise the project in the next four years. The project aims to change the technology at its sorting facility in Malešice and introduce a new system of letter and parcel delivery going directly to the addressee.
E15 1, 9

Planet DVD goes bust
Weekly Ekonom reports that Prague DVD rental operator Planet DVD has filed for bankruptcy based on debts exceeding CZK 2 million. The company’s bank accounts have been blocked, and its assets do not cover the amount of the debt.
HN 13

Tap water gets more popular
The fourth largest domestic liqueur producer Fruko Schulz plans to launch a new organic syrup product in three weeks in response to the growing popularity of tap water. Josef Nejedlý, head of the company, says the sale of such syrups grew by 9% year-on-year in the first six months of 2009. Water provider Veolia is now creating a marketing campaign for tap water, having already convinced dozens of restaurants and hotels to offer it to customers for free. Bernard brewery has recently launched a rival non-alcoholic malt-based plum drink Švestka.
HN 16

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