Business News

Шкода Fabia (фото:

In this week’s Business News: ČEZ topples Škoda Auto as biggest Czech company; sales surge should help Škoda Auto regain top spot; Czech financial sector gets clean bill of health; end of track for rail cargo bosses; and mini-brewery provider gets global boost.

ČEZ takes top spot as biggest Czech company

Carmaker Škoda Auto has been dethroned as the biggest Czech company by state-controlled power giant ČEZ. ČEZ grabbed top spot after its turnover last year climbed by around 13 billion crowns to 196 billion while Škoda’s slipped by around the same amount. It is the first time in 14 years that the car maker has not occupied pole position in the rankings. The overall story from the Czech TOP 100 survey is sobering with around two-thirds of the country’s biggest companies suffering a downturn in turnover with their combined sales falling by around 15 percent.

Booming car sales should put Škoda Auto back on top

Škoda Fabia
ČEZ’s spell at the top could be short-lived with Škoda Auto enjoying a sales surge so far this year. Car sales in the first five months of the year are up an average 16.6 percent. One of the main motors of growth is China where the Czech manufacturer has sold almost 70,000 cars since the start of the year. This is more than all the cars it sold in China in 2008. Škoda Auto already announced an around 30 percent improvement in turnover in the first quarter of the year compared with 2009. In comparison, ČEZ expects to take a full hit from depressed electricity prices this year with forecast earnings around 3.0 percent lower.

Czech National Bank says financial sector resistant to shocks

Czech National Bank,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
The Czech financial sector is sound and resilient to risks. That is the verdict of the Czech National Bank after submitting banks, insurance companies and investment funds to so called stress tests. The bank said they came through with adequate solvency ratios even in scenarios of a return of recession or collapse in economic confidence. Domestic institutions had built up a financial cushion ahead of the recent economic crisis and had a sound foundation, it added.

Rail cargo bosses given marching orders

Photo: European Commission
State-owned rail freight company ČD Cargo has undergone an executive earthquake after the entire board and top managers were sacked this week by parent company Czech Railways. The move follows tense relations ever since the cargo unit was created in 2007 with Czech Railways complaining that it has almost no influence over the go-it-alone daughter company. Matters came to a head last year when ČD Cargo reported a loss of just under 380 million crowns compared with a profit just short of 475 million a year earlier. Audits were launched by the rail company and Ministry of Transport to work out if this was just a result of the recession or bad management at the top.

Brno mini-brewery specialist enjoys global sales boom

And finally, a Brno company is helping to put Czech beer on the map in some of the farthest corners of the globe. Destila Brno specialises in constructing mini-breweries around the world and has just seen a 15000 hectolitre a year facility outside the Azerbaijan city of Baku officially open for business. It will produce traditional Pilsen beer. Last year it set up a smaller brewery beyond the Arctic Circle in the Russian city of Naryan-Mar. Altogether, it constructed seven mini-breweries last year compared with five a year in 2008 and 2007. Most of the orders come from the former Soviet Union.