Business News

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In business news today: household energy prices to grow in coming months; Slevomat.cz buys share in Hungary’s Bónus Brigád; Czech Post expects rise in profit compared to 2011; Construction sector expects crisis to deepen.

Household energy prices to grow in coming months

The RWE utilities group has announced it will increase gas prices for Czech households by 9 percent on average as of December 19th, citing the crown’s weakening against the US dollar. This is the fourth time the company has raised prices this year, most recently on November 1st by 5.2 percent. Its overall gas price increase this year has reached almost 30 percent. The Energy Regulatory Office announced on Tuesday that household electricity prices will grow by 3.4 percent on average next year, depending on individual regional distributors. Household heating prices are expected to rise by 6 to 9 percent.

Slevomat.cz buys share in Hungary’s Bónus Brigád

The largest Czech deal-of-the-day website Slevomat.cz has bought a share in the biggest Hungarian group discount website Bónusz Brigád, the company has announced but declined to elaborate on the size of the share or its price. Slevomat also says it has agreed on close cooperation with a group of other discount servers, including Cherry, Beta.lt or Zlavomat, covering seven Central European countries. Currently, Slevomat has some 2 million registered users and plans to expand into the clothing, toy and consumer electronics markets. Slevomat Group now operates in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Bulgaria.

Czech Post expects rise in profit compared to 2011

The state-owned Czech Post says it expects its 2011 profit to reach 350 to 400 million crowns. Its gross profit in 2010 amounted to 261 million crowns. The company says austerity measures are behind the increase. Czech Post has been facing a 14-percent annual decrease in the volume of classic mail in recent years. The company has laid off 1,700 employees this year and other office workers are expected to leave at the end of the year. The target staff figure is 33,000. The company which posts a yearly turnover of over 20 billion crowns is pending transformation into a joint-stock company, but the government has not yet set the date.

Construction sector expects crisis to deepen

An opinion poll carried out among directors of Czech construction companies suggests they expect a further decline of the industry in the coming year and further stagnation in 2013. The poll, conducted by the CEEC Research and KPMG Czech Republic companies also suggests the current economic crisis has aggravated competition among construction companies resulting in price wars. The respondents predict the current situation might lead to bankruptcies, increased unemployment and social tension. It is estimated that around 12,000 people will have lost their jobs in the industry in 2011.

Czech Republic’s fourth mobile network operator starts insolvency proceedings

The Czech Republic’s fourth mobile network operator MobilKom (under the brand name U:fon) has filed a petition to start insolvency proceedings, citing high credit burden. The operator says that services to existing and new customers will remain unaffected during the course of the proceedings and restructuring. MobilKom says it was planning to launch services on the GSM market but has not been allowed to by the Czech telecommunications regulator. The operator currently offers CDMA-based services that are incompatible with the GSM standard used by the three main players – Telefonica O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. MobilKom became the fourth mobile operator on the Czech market when it launched commercial data-based services in May 2007. It currently has over 100,000 subscribers.