Business News

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In Business News this week: GDP growth slows, but remains above 6 percent; the giant Czech anti-virus company Grisoft buys a US company providing protection from dangerous web sites; US private equity firm Warburg Pincus acquires the second most popular Czech web portal; Ikea significantly increases its sales in the Czech Republic; bakery chain Paneria is set to expand to 30 outlets; and Prima TV sells a serial to a Czech-language broadcaster in the US.

Czech GDP growth slows to 6 percent but still higher than predicted

The Czech Republic’s gross domestic product grew by 6 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to figures released on Friday. That represented a slowing from a revised 6.3 percent in the second quarter of 2007, though GDP growth was still slightly higher in the July to September period than analysts had predicted.

Anti-virus giant Grisoft buys US firm providing protection from risky web sites

The Czech anti-virus company Grisoft announced this week it was buying Exploit Prevention Labs, a US company which provides protection from dangerous internet web sites. A representative of Grisoft said under the deal the firm was not just acquiring new technology, but also experts in the fast-growing field. The Brno-based company is the world’s fourth-largest provider of anti-virus software – its AVG programme is used by over 60 million people around the world.

US equity firm Warburg Pincus buys second biggest Czech web portal

Meanwhile, an American private equity firm Warburg Pincus has just acquired majority ownership of Centrum.cz, the Czech Republic’s second most popular internet portal. The price it paid has not been revealed, though the company had been valued at heading for CZK 3 billion. Centrum.cz’s two founders Ondrej Tomek and Oldrich Bajer will retain token stakes, but will play no part in its running.

Ikea sees considerable increase in takings

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea recorded a marked increase in sales in the Czech Republic in the year ending in August; its four outlets took in over CZK 450 million in that business year, over three times more than in the previous 12-month period. The firm plans to double the number of Ikea stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, though no new branches are planned in this country in the next business year.

Bakery chain Paneria to expand to 30 branches

One of the Czech Republic’s biggest chains of food outlets Paneria is set to expand its network to 30 outlets next year. Its owner, the biggest Czech bakery United Bakeries, is converting its Fr. [Frantisek] Odkolek shops into branches of Paneria. Twenty-one of the current 26 Paneria outlets are in the capital, which may be good for its business – a spokesperson told Hospodarske noviny that customers spend nearly twice as much on average at its Prague branches than in the country’s second city Brno.

TV Prima sells serial to Czech-language channel in US

While imported TV programmes have long been a staple of Czech television schedules, the commercial station Prima has just announced a deal in the opposite direction: it has sold 84 parts of its serial Letiste (Airport) to Online TV in the United States, the news site Aktualne.cz reported. Online TV is based in Chicago, from where it serves Czech and Slovak viewers. It is planning to expand its broadcasting significantly, and is considering buying more programmes from Czech TV stations.