Business News

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In Business News this week: The prime minister suggests that next year’s public finance deficit could be lower than expected; the Czech Finance Ministry says it has won its court case against ArcelorMittal; Dutch brewer Heineken is set to take over north Bohemian beer producer Drinks Union; Prague’s Ruzyně ayirport is bracing itself for a record number of passengers in 2008, and one in five Czech managers take ‘smart’ drugs to help them up their energy levels.

PM revises figures for next year’s public finance deficit

Foto: Štěpánka Budková
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, suggested that the country’s public finance deficit could be cut to 1.7 percent of GDP next year, down from the previous estimate of 2.6 percent. Mr Topolánek made the comments during a lecture to students at Prague’s School of Economics, though he did not clarify the steps the government would take to achieve this lower deficit. Analysts have responded to Mr Topolánek’s comments by saying that such revision of deficit goals is ‘logical’ and ‘correct’ given the current condition of public finances. The EU has called on the Czech Republic to lower its public finance deficit to below 1 percent of GDP by 2012.

Finance Ministry wins arbitration proceedings against ArcelorMittal

One of the biggest business stories of the week broke when the Czech Finance Ministry said that it had won its court case against the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. An arbitration court in Paris rejected ArcelorMittal’s claim that the Czech government should pay the steel giant 5.79 billion crowns (335 million USD) over a disputed privatization. The government will now seek about half a million euros in legal costs, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told the press. ArcelorMittal launched the arbitration proceedings in Paris, arguing that the Czech Republic had broken a pledge to sell a 14 percent stake in the country’s biggest steel producer, Nova Hut. The steelmaker in question has since been renamed ArcelorMittal Ostrava.

Heineken set to buy Czech brewers Drinks Union

The Dutch company Heineken is set to take over the North Bohemian beer producer Drinks Union, it was announced this week. The sale still has to be given the green light by the Czech antimonopoly office before it can go ahead. Drinks Union generated sales of a record 1.29 billion CZK (80.7 million USD) last year. The company owns four breweries and a distillery – Granette. Heineken already owns two Czech interests, the Starobrno brewery in Moravia, and Krušovice, the third strongest player on the Czech beer market. The sum it wishes to purchase Drinks Union for has not been disclosed.

Prague airport expects record number of passengers in 2008

Prague’s Ruzyně airport can expect to accommodate more than 13.3 million passengers this year, the company which operates the facility said this week. Last year some 12.4 million people used the airport in the course of their travels. As of the new season, which starts this weekend, the number of direct flights to leave from the airport will go up by 17. New flights will be offered to Gothenburg in Sweden, and Rostov on Don in Russia. The Greek charter air carrier Seagle Air will also start flying from Ruzyně to various locations in Greece, Bulgaria and Mallorca.

One in five Czech managers takes ‘smart’ drugs to up energy levels

One in five Czech managers takes ‘smart’ drugs to help them up their energy levels, suggests a poll conducted for the newspaper Hospodářské noviny, published on Thursday. Respondents to the poll said that they worked 12 hours a day on average, and did not take time off at weekends. One fifth of those polled also said that they found themselves drinking more coffee and energy drinks than they would like. Hospodářské noviny reports that use of cocaine is also on the rise in managerial circles. A Human Resources consultant, Aleš Křížek, says that the increased use of drugs, legal and otherwise, can be put down to the increased responsibility that Czech managers are enjoying, and the current shortage of human resources in the country, placing extra strain on those at the top.

Czechs plan to build a ski centre… in Abu Dhabi

And finally, the Czech firm Vítkovice Holding Group is discussing plans to build a ski centre… in Abu Dhabi. The artificial ski complex would be up to two kilometers in length and 200 metres wide. It would be themed upon the Alps and have ski lifts, as well as a number of slopes. Golf courses and restaurants are also planned for the interior. The proposals were discussed earlier this week when a delegation of businessmen accompanied Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek to the United Arab Emirates, with a view to cementing trade links between the two countries.