Vodafone confirms interest in Oskar Mobil; PPF drops out of Cesky Telecom bid; FDI nearly double in 2004, including reinvested profits; One in four Czechs admits to having paid a bribe; Skoda Auto to double investment in India; 100 Czech electronic goods stores per year closing; Czech crown sets all-time high of 21.93 against the US dollar; Record number of Czechs expected to take foreign holidays in 2005
Vodafone confirms interest in Oskar Mobil
PPF drops out of Cesky Telecom bid
In other telecoms news, the PPF financial group has said it will take part in the privatisation of the fixed-line operator Cesky Telecom — if the government decides to sell its stake on the capital markets, or if it calls a new tender. A consortium led by PPF and the Italian group Tiscali pulled out of the Cesky Telecom tender last week, claiming it had been denied access to all relevant information needed for due dilligence. Still taking part in the privatisation bid are telcos Swisscom, Belgacom, and Telefonica of Spain, along with the financial consortium Blackstone/CVC/Provident, which has partnered with France Telecom.
FDI nearly double in 2004, including reinvested profits
Foreign direct investment nearly doubled last year, from 59.3 billion crowns to 114.7 billion crowns, with half of that coming from Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. However, the figure includes 66 billion crowns of reinvested profits, according to the Czech National Bank.
One in four Czechs admits to having paid a bribe
Nearly one out of every four adult Czechs has paid a bribe at least once in recent years according to a new survey by the Median polling institute. One in five Czechs said an official had asked them to pay a bribe. The survey found that young adult Czechs are less willing to pay bribes than their elders, who are more prone to consider the practice a "necessary evil" to speed up bureaucratic processes.
Skoda Auto to double investment in India
The Czech car maker Skoda Auto plans to nearly double capacity in India and begin exporting to Bangladesh this year as part of its plan to use India as a regional hub. Skoda Auto now produces 15,000 cars a year at its plant in India, Asia's fourth-largest economy.
100 Czech electronic goods stores per year closing
Roughly 100 Czech electronic goods stores have closed in each year of the last four years due to fierce competition from hypermarkets, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports. The Czech chain ProTec, which operates 40 small-scale outlets and two wholesale facilities, is the latest casualty, the paper says, having filed for bankruptcy last week.
Czech crown sets all-time high of 21.93 against the US dollar
The Czech currency on Wednesday set a new all-time high of 21.93 crowns to the US dollar. Analysts expect the Czech currency to firm to 21.80 crowns to the dollar and 29.30 crowns to the euro within the next few months; any further strengthening of the crown would likely trigger an intervention by the Czech National Bank.
Record number of Czechs expected to take foreign holidays in 2005
In related news, a record 4 million Czechs are expected to take foreign holidays this year; a five percent increase over 2004. The strength of the crown, rising Czech living standards, and growth in the budget airline industry servicing Prague and Brno are behind the increase, say travel sector analysts. Croatia remains the top destination for summer holidays.