Business News

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In this week’s Business News: economic growth revised upwards; another brick in Lego’s Czech expansion; ČEZ reported to have cooled on Turkish joint venture; light shed on solar corruption sting; ministry earmarks film industry support.

Finance Ministry and central bank up 2011 growth estimates

The Ministry of Finance has upped its previous growth prediction for this year to 2.2 percent from an earlier 2.0 percent. Economic growth in 2010 is expected to have averaged out at 2.5 percent. The Czech National Bank has also revised its figures upwards but only to 1.6 percent this year and 3.0 percent growth in 2012. The latest growth forecasts for 2011 still come in under the more optimistic figures of the European Commission of 2.3 percent and the even higher 2.8 percent penciled in by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Lego expands Czech production site

Iconic children’s brickmaker Lego has announced expansion plans in the Czech Republic. The Danish owners of the global toymaker plans to expand their existing production site at Kladno, outside Prague, and eventually add around 1,000 workers. Part of Lego’s strategy is to shift production to lower cost countries where demand is booming. Lego took control of production at the Kladno plant two years ago after formerly outsourcing it to Singapore-based international manufacturer Flextronics.

ČEZ said to be looking to offload Turkish JV stake

Czech power giant ČEZ is reported to be considering the sale of its significant stake in one of Turkey’s biggest private energy companies, Akenerji. State-controlled ČEZ has a 37.4 percent stake acquired in 2008 and is reported to have been approached by its Turkish partner with a buyout offer. The Turkish partner says no deal has been done. In the recent past ČEZ was hot about the chances of cashing in on rising Turkish power prices and demand. But its foreign investments now seem to be frowned upon and the company has said it wants to concentrate on business nearer to home.

Organised crime busters pounce on solar scam

Staying with energy, a special police squad for fighting organized crime says it has detained three men in connection with an apparent attempt to bribe their way into tapping generous solar power payments ahead of a government clampdown. They wanted to bribe officials to get a 2010 license for producing solar power and payments more than twice the level offered for 2011. Detectives say they caught one of the men red handed as he attempted to pay 1.0 million crowns. They caught up with the other two later. The company, Lumen Energetický Development, says its workers were apparently the victim of a ‘provocation’ from another firm and said the company had been cooperating with another branch of the police on a separate criminal case.

Film fund doles out extras

The state fund for the support of the Czech film industry has decided the share out of the around 200 million crowns at its disposal for this year. The lion’s share, 120 million crowns, will go into supporting Czech feature length films including co-productions. Around 30 million crowns has been earmarked for smaller cinemas to be given digital technology so that they can compete with multiplexes. This has been described as a life and death issue for such cinemas. Film festivals will get a supporting 21 million crowns and shorter films 24 million. The fund is aimed at promoting film making in the country after fears it was moving away to cheaper locations.