Business News

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In Business News this week: state-owned brewer Budvar will probably not be privatised during the term of the current government, says the minister of agriculture; top managers at ČEZ are set to take home phenomenal amounts under a share option incentive scheme; with a rise in the number of second-hand autos imported, some are suggesting the Czech Republic is Europe’s car graveyard; ČT24 will soon begin broadcasts from the Prague Stock Exchange; and the Czech makers of a hit computer game are bought out by a US firm.

Gandalovič: Budvar privatisation must wait till next government

Petr Gandalovič, photo: CTK
The state-owned brewer Budvar will probably not be privatised during the term of the current government, the minister of agriculture, Petr Gandalovič, told the latest edition of the weekly Ekonom. He said there was not enough time to complete the sell-off by 2010. The Agriculture Ministry is currently preparing to transform the Czech Republic’s third largest brewer into a joint-stock company, a step which must be taken prior to its privatisation. Minister Gandalovič refused to comment on speculation that Budvar could eventually be bought by American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, with which it has had numerous legal disputes over the right to use the brand name Budweiser. Meanwhile, Budvar said this week that it had increased its annual production by 8.7 percent and had once again seen record exports in 2007.

Huge share option payday for ČEZ bosses

Top managers at the state controlled power giant ČEZ will exercise stock options this month, with CEO Martin Roman set to gain CZK 677 m (over USD 38 m), a record pay-out for an executive of a Czech company. Twelve other managers will receive a combined CZK 620 m under the incentive scheme.

Marked rise in imports of second-hand cars

There was a marked rise last year in the number of passenger cars registered in the Czech Republic, the Car Importers Association said this week. The vast majority of the 250,000 or so new arrivals were second-hand vehicles imported from abroad. In fact, there was a 16-percent year-on-year rise in used car imports. What’s more, around a third of them were more than 10 years old, leading to suggestions that this country is becoming Europe’s car graveyard.

Stock Exchange hoping TV broadcasts will lead to more small clients

From next month the public TV station ČT24 is planning to broadcast twice daily reports live from a studio at the Prague Stock Exchange. The latter’s general director Petr Koblic hopes the bourse news will attract more small investors; at present only 30,000 to 40,000 people buy and sell stocks in the Czech Republic, far fewer than the 650,000 in similarly sized Austria. But Mr Koblic said there has already been a huge increase in small investors: five years ago they accounted for less than one percent of the stock exchange’s total trades, while today they account for around 20 percent, he told the newspaper Hospodářské noviny.

Czech makers of hit computer game bought out by US firm

The Czech computer games maker Illusion Softworks has been bought by the US company Take-Two Interactive Software. The price has not been disclosed, but Hospodářské noviny reported it could be around USD 20 million. Illusion Softworks, with offices in Prague and Brno, is best known for the 2001 computer game Mafia, which has notched up world sales of two million. Now renamed 2K Czech, it is currently working on a follow-up, Mafia II.