Business briefs

Photo: CTK
0:00
/
0:00

Controversial businessman Frantisek Mrazek shot dead; Czech Republic protests Austria proposal on VAT levels; Czech Railways to seek some $700,000 from maker of Pendelino; Talks with South Korean carmaker Hyundai centre on domestic-parts guarantee, infrastructure; Deputies have approved a tougher conflict-of-interest bill; Cinema association says box-office sales fell 22 percent in 2005; Czech crown reaches another record high against the Euro

Controversial businessman Frantisek Mrazek shot dead

Frantisek Mrazek, photo: CTK
The controversial businessman and reputed organized crime figure, Frantisek Mrazek, was shot dead outside his home this week by a gunman using a telescopic sight. Mrazek was believed to be a beneficiary owner of a company that controls Setuza, a major food and chemicals conglomerate. Setuza owes billions of crowns to the state-run bailout agency; and the government is now deciding whether to allow a private equity firm to purchase it or transfer it to another state body.

Czech Republic protests Austria proposal on VAT levels

The Czech Republic, Poland, and Cyprus -- all new European Union members -- blocked a proposal by Austria for changing the level of VAT rate on certain services. The Czechs want to maintain the lower rate for residential construction, heating, and diapers. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka openly criticized Austria for consulting only with old EU member states, and allowing permanent exemptions for themselves but demanding transition periods from new member states. EU finance ministers were expected to try to reach a compromise late on Friday.

Czech Railways to seek some $700,000 from maker of Pendolino

The state-run Czech Railways has said it will seek some nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in compensation from the Italian company that supplied faulty high-speed trains. Czech Railways will also seek money from the local manager who secured the contract with Alstom, maker of the Pendolino train. The last of seven was taken out of operation this week. The Italian company has promised to fix the trains by the end of the month.

Talks with South Korean carmaker Hyundai centre on domestic-parts guarantee, infrastructure

Photo: CTK
Talks with the South Korean carmaker Hyundai are said to be drawing to a successful close. Minister of Industry and Trade Milan Urban has said the Czech side wants Hyundai to commit to using more than 50 percent Czech-sourced parts in the cars assembled in the carmaker's planned Ostrava plant. In return, Hyundai, which is to invest 1.2 billion dollars into the plant, wants improvements in highway infrastructure completed by 2009, two years earlier than originally agreed.

Deputies have approved a tougher conflict-of-interest bill

The lower house of Parliament has approved a conflict of interest bill, put forward by the government. The bill tightens control over property belonging to politicians and other officials in the public sector such as the police force and the judiciary. Any income or gifts in the sum of 4,000 US dollars or more, for example, would have to be declared. Any violation of the law could result in a fine of up to 20,000 US dollars.

Cinema association says box-office sales fell 22 percent in 2005

The Czech Association of Cinema Operators has said that box-office sales fell last year by 22 percent. The association chairman, Milos Navratil, said the situation was dire. Cinema attendance has dropped steadily in recent years, as people instead opt to rent films, burn and trade them with friends - or simply download pirate copies over the Internet.

Czech crown reaches another record high against the Euro

The Czech currency rose to another record high against the Euro this week. The Czech National Bank (CNB) governor, Zdenek Tuma, said he could not imagine that the rate of appreciation of the crown in recent months is sustainable. The central bank raised the main interest rate by a quarter point three months ago over concerns of inflationary pressure.