Business News

Škoda Auto

In this week’s Business News: Škoda Auto to remain in luxury range; government turns off funding for solar power; central bank fines major high street bank for misleading customers; steelmakers see slow recovery; and work time increases for employees.

Škoda Auto says will be follow up for Superb

Leading Czech carmaker Škoda Auto is going to stay in the luxury car market when its current top of the range model, the Superb, is phased out. Company managers say that a replacement model will be lined up within five years. The auto trade press had speculated that there would be no follow-up model at all, or just a downmarket version of the Superb for taxi fleets. That speculation had been fuelled by criticism from Škoda Auto’s parent company, Volkswagen, that sales of the Czech car was eating into the market for its own models.

Government puts roof on solar power support

Photo: Archive of Radio Prague
The Czech government has taken yet another step to curb the country’s solar power boom. It has passed a proposal this week which would remove generous support for facilities built on agricultural land and only offer it for solar panels installed on roofs or on buildings. The Minister of Industry says the move could prevent around 700 MW of solar power capacity coming on line. Further steps, such as tax changes, are promised by the government to curb the boom which threatens to increase electricity prices for companies by as much as 30 percent next year.

ČSOB fined for misleading post office customers

The Czech National Bank this week imposed a 3.0 million crown fine on one of the country’s biggest retail banks, ČSOB, for presenting false and misleading information to customers. It said that the Belgian-controlled banking group gave the impression that its post office based banking operation, Poštovní Spořitelna, was a separate, independent entity when it is in fact a fully integrated part of the group. ČSOB has come under attack on another front over the deal to operate out of post Office, with the new minister of the interior suggesting the contract running until 2017 should be renegotiated to get more money for the Post Office.

Steelmakers see slow recovery from crisis

Czech steelmakers have predicted a slow climb out of the crisis that cut production by a fifth last year. The head of the Association of Foundries said this week that he expects annual production growth of around 5.0 percent over the coming years, with a return to pre-crisis levels of output in five to six years. On the upside, he said that the crisis had taught the surviving companies to cut costs, be more flexible and find new markets. Germany is still the biggest market though, taking around 80 percent of Czech steel production.

Working day extends for employees

Most Czech employees are working longer hours according to the national statistics office. The number of workers regularly putting in less than 40 hours a week fell by around a quarter of a million between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010. But those putting in more than 40 hours rose by around 120,000 over the period. The trend for businessmen was in the opposite direction with more working shorter hours. The statistics office said young people starting up part time businesses in parallel with other work partly explained that figure.