Business News


In this week’s Business News: steady recovery predicted for the economy; citizen’s bond issue looks unlikely; cinemas boost income in spite of audience fall; small shareholders taste victory at steelworks; and Škoda Auto targets dozy drivers.

Steady recovery seen by Ministry of Finance

Photo: European Commission
A hesitant but strengthening economic recovery is predicted by the Ministry of Finance in its latest forecast released this week. The ministry expects growth of 1.3 percent this year doubling to 2.6 percent in 2011. That is an improvement from the earlier prediction of an almost invisible 0.3 percent growth rate in 2010. Most of the demand fuelling extra output will come from abroad with exports seen rising by 4.4 percent this year. Unemployment is predicted to fall slowly to an average 8.8 percent this year and 8.6 percent in 2011.

Bond issue for public loses momentum

Finance Minister Eduard Janota will not now push plans to allow Czech citizens to buy a direct stake in the country’s mounting debt, according to the E15 daily. Mr Janota last year launched the idea of a special issue of state bonds, which guarantee a set rate of interest throughout their life and the initial investment sum at the end of it. These are usually bought up by big financial institutions. But the plan has hit opposition from the two big political parties with doubts raised as to whether the ministry could pilot such an issue. Now Mr. Janota says that he will just prepare the project but not actively press for its adoption.

Ticket price rise boosts box office takings

Box office takings at Czech cinemas hit record levels in 2009 in spite of a fall off in total visits. Income rose around 2.0 percent to 1.25 billion crowns although cinema visits were down by around 3.0 percent at 12.46 million. The extra income stemmed from higher ticket prices which rose from an average 94.6 crowns in 2008 to just over 100 crowns in 2009. That is one of the biggest hikes in the last decade. Multiplex’s share of the overall market rose to account for 87 percent of total income.

Small shareholders win court victory at ArcelorMittal Ostrava

Small shareholders in the country’s biggest steelworks, ArcelorMittal Ostrava, have won a court action against the majority owner, ArcelorMittal Holding. Nine shareholders lodged a compliant against the company’s decision last year not to share out profits in the form of dividends. Instead, they say the majority owner used the cash as a cheap source of credit for its own purposes. This week a local court found that commercial law was broken when the firm’s general meeting gave no reason for refusing to share out the profits and then snubbed the small shareholders. ArcelorMittal Holding says it is considering an appeal.

Sleepy drivers targeted in Škoda Auto, university research venture

Značka Peugeot je čtvrtá nejkradenější v ČR
The Czech Republic’s biggest car producer, Škoda Auto, and researchers at the West Bohemian University in Plzeň have teamed up to work on a device that would alert drivers if they are starting to fall asleep at the wheel. The idea is that the device — probably fitted in the head rest — would measure so-called event related potentials. These are the small electric signals in the brain that occur before, during and following activity. It is reckoned that measuring these signals can give a five to 10 minute alarm that the driver is dozing off. Such a device could cut accidents caused by carelessness by around 40 percent.