Business News


In Business News: the Czech registry OTE will remain closed for at least six weeks following unauthorised trading; consumers stand to benefit from a price war between power companies; the Czech mortgage market grew by 15 percent after two-year decline; the Czech insurers’ Association investigated more than 5,000 suspicious insurance claims last year.

Carbon registry to remain closed for at least six weeks

Photo: European Commission
The Czech registry in charge of carbon permits trading (OTE) is to remain closed for at least six weeks after unauthorized trading of some 1.3 million credits was uncovered last week. The credits, worth 430 million crowns (the equivalent of around 24 million US dollars), were reportedly stolen from companies’ accounts in the Czech registry and subsequently traced to accounts in Britain, Germany, and other European countries, the body reported on Friday. The unauthorized transactions took place in the space of a few minutes, the registry confirmed; it is now cooperating with European counterparts to find a secure way to restore trading. In a statement, OTE’s director Jiří Štastný said that the police were investigating the full extent of the theft and possible motives. The crime last week was first noticed by Blackstone Global Ventures, a Brno-based trader, which informed the registry that 475,000 allowances were missing from its account.

Daily: homeowners stand to benefit by switching to newer power companies

The Czech daily Lidové noviny has reported that Czech homeowners stand to benefit from a price war between old and new power utilities vying for new clients. According to the Friday edition, homeowners could save thousands of crowns per year on heating and electricity bills, noting the period when large-scale providers ČEZ, E.ON and RWE could dictate prices as they saw fit “was irrevocably over”. By switching to new smaller providers some natural gas users will be able to save up to 4,000 crowns annually, while those with electrical heating stand to save 3,000 – in other words around 150 US dollars. New players on the market will be hoping to lure customers away through more competitive prices, which should force the bigger companies to react. The spokesman for ČEZ Ladislav Kříž is quoted by Lidové noviny only as saying if the bigger companies didn’t suffer some losses it would be a sign there was something wrong with the market.

Mortgage market grows after two-year decline

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
After a two year decline, the Czech home mortgage market grew last year by 15 percent year-on-year. Domestic banks provided some 51,000 mortgages worth 84.6 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 48 million US dollars). The numbers were reported by the Ministry for Regional Development on Thursday. The 84.6 billion crown sum made 2010 the fourth most successful year ever for the Czech mortgage market. The highest number was granted in the regions of Prague and Central Bohemia, but the fastest-growing areas year-on-year were Moravia-Silesia and South Bohemia. Hypoteční banka, the number one bank on the mortgages market, alone provided more than 16,000 mortgages.

Czech insurance companies investigate 14 percent more suspicious claims

Czech insurance companies investigated 5,142 suspicious claims in 2010 – a 14 percent increase from the previous year, the Czech Insurance Association reported this week. The cases investigated were worth a potential 625 million crowns – a one percent drop from the previous year. One example: although insurance companies investigated a higher number of car-related claims in 2010 the actual number of fraudulent cases dropped by 16 percent.

Czech Postal Service introducing austerity measures

The Czech Postal Service is preparing to lay off up to 2 000 employees in the course of this year, in an effort to sustain a sliding profit margin, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported this week. The state-owned company is also planning to close down close to 1500 local branches which are unprofitable to maintain. A company spokesman said on Monday that in 2010 the Czech Postal Service generated a profit of 280 million pre-tax, down from a 661 million crown profit in 2009.