Business News

Táhneš se jako šnek

In Business News this week: High inflation but low unemployment, a fake blog is exposed as a marketing ploy, rumours abound that Microsoft will buy Seznam, a look at the Czech snail business and the country's most absurd bank fee.

Unemployment lowest for 11 years

Unemployment in the Czech Republic has reached its lowest levels in 11 years and is expected to continue to fall according to the Czech Statistical Office. This, despite a global slowdown in the economy and concerns about inflation and rising food prices. The figures which cover the first quarter of 2008, indicate unemployment levels of 4.7% according to methodology used by the UN body the International Labour Organisation - a 1.3% fall on the previous year’s figures. These figures contrast with many developed economies in which unemployment has risen in recent months.

Fake blog caught promoting bank

Czech journalists have exposed a fake blog or “flog” which promoted the Czech bank ČSOB and its internet banking arm, while criticizing that of its major rival. The blog, purportedly by a woman by the name of Klára Franková, was actually set up by the PR agency Bison & Rose. Klára Franková was in fact an entirely fictitious person created by the agency, and whose photograph was simply taken from the internet. The company conceded that such practices were at odds with its own ethics standards and blamed the issue on a wayward employee. Such dubious marketing methods are becoming a serious problem in the Czech Republic according to several sources.

Microsoft wants Seznam

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
Reports suggest that the global software giant Microsoft is in talks to purchase the popular Czech search engine Seznam. Ivo Lukačovič, the founder and majority shareholder is believed to be open to the possibility of selling his stake in Seznam, which has led to a flurry of speculation about the company – although Lukačovič has continued to deny that the company will be sold to Microsoft. The value and therefore selling price of the company is estimated at around 1 billion US dollars, or 16 billion Czech crowns. Seznam has two million visitors a day and is more popular than Google, which dominates most countries.

Czech Republic is a key snail exporter

Newly released data suggests that The Czech Republic exports over 500 tones of snails annually with 95% going to France. The figure is a 40% increase on 1990s figures and the country now accounts for 5% of all French snail sales. By far the biggest company in the Czech Republic is Helix, which processes and sells snail meat to a number of countries. Perhaps surprisingly, most of these snails come from the wild, with almost none coming from snail farms. Poland, Hungary and Romania are also strong players in the snail business.

Most absurd bank payment

A competition on the Czech website – which translates as my – has found what it is describing as the most absurd banking fee in the Czech Republic. The fee, for receiving money into your bank account beat the previous year’s winners: fees for cash machine withdrawals and fees for simply having an account. The Czech Republic has some of the highest banking fees in Europe and this has led many consumer action groups to advocate a change in the system. The winning fee – for receiving money into one’s account is charged by several Czech banks, although some including Poštovní Spořitelna have recently rescinded it.