Petrol prices expected to rise
Czech economic analysts expect petrol price to reach a psychological level of 30 crowns or 80 cents per litre this summer, if the US dollar continues strengthening against European currencies. Another important factor that could push petrol prices up is an OPEC meeting scheduled for this summer.
Man suspected of fraud to sue Komercni Banka
Austrian company BCL Trading is planning to sue the Czech bank Komercni Banka for 15 billion Czech crowns for unspecified damages. Komercni Banka, one of the three largest Czech banks, had filed a lawsuit against the owner of BCL Trading, Barak Alon, who allegedly stripped the bank of several billion Czech crowns in credit fraud.
Military fair in Brno
The Brno exhibition ground is hosting the 6th International Exhibition of Defence and Security Technology and Special Information Systems, IDET. It is the largest and most prestigious exhibition in its field in Europe in 2001, with nearly 400 participating companies, 24 countries and 11,000 expert visitors.
Germans attract Czech drivers
Germany is reportedly interested in Czech professional drivers. Czech trucking companies therefore expect large numbers of Czech drivers to seek jobs in their wealthier neighbouring country after the Czech Republic joins the EU. According to the daily newspaper Lidove Noviny, German companies have already made attempts to obtain work permits for thousands of employees from the East.
Costly merger to save Czech steelworks from collapse
In the past few days, the Czech media has reported on an ambitious plan to merge three of the largest Czech steelworks, Trinecke Zelezarny, Nova Hut and Vitkovicke zelezarny, all located in Northern Moravia. This is one of the possible solutions suggested in a study compiled by British Eurostrategy consultants. The merger is, on the one hand, the most costly solution but on the other, it seems to be a feasible way to save a large part of the Czech steel industry from collapse, as two of the three companies have been in the red for some time now and their prospects are not particularly bright.
Under the scheme, Trinecke zelezarny, the only profitable company of the three, would acquire the other two for a symbolic price after the government bails out all their non-performing assets, estimated at around 40 billion Czech crowns, or more than one billion US dollars. While Trinecke zelezarny is a profit-making private company, Nova Hut and Vitkovice are still under state control.
I talked to Zuzana Smidova, our correspondent in Ostrava, about the plan, and the situation in the Czech steel industry in general.