Business News

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In Business News: an increase in exports countries allows power producer CEZ to achieve record profits in the first quarter; a new player, U:fon, enters the Czech telecoms market; a UK firm has plans to greatly increase passenger numbers at the regional airport in Pardubice; the number of pirated computer programmes used here is nearing the EU average; and the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Czech Republic is rising rapidly.

Power giant CEZ achieves record profits on back of exports

An increase in exports to neighbouring countries allowed Czech power producer CEZ to boost its profits to a record 13 billion CZK in the first quarter, making it the most profitable company in the Czech Republic. That was despite a fall in domestic consumption of 6.1 percent year-on-year caused by the relatively warm winter.

Mild winter means more beer production, construction output

The mild weather has also been given as the reason for a 3.5 percent rise in beer production in the first quarter, according to figures released this week by the Czech Brewers Union. And the warm winter has been credited with an increase in building work - there was a 26.4 percent year-on-year rise in real terms in March.

New firm U:fon enters telecoms market

A new player has entered the Czech telecoms market. U:fon, owned by Mobilkom, is offering mobile internet connections for considerably less than mobile operators O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. When it launches fully in the middle of this year, U:fon will offer coverage in around half the country, rising to 90 percent of the territory of the Czech Republic by the end of the year.

UK firm want to transform Pardubice regional airport

A British company has plans to transform the regional airport in the east Bohemian town of Pardubice, Lidove noviny reported on Friday. The firm, John Laing, wants to expand its capacity from the current 72,000 passengers a year to a whopping 3.5 million, the paper said. But environmentalists and public health authorities are worried that the expanded airport - only 4 km from the centre of Pardubice - could increase noise levels and lead to public protests.

Percentage of illegal computer programmes nearing EU average

Thirty-nine percent of all computer programmes installed in the Czech Republic last year were illegal pirated copies, according to a study carried out for the international body Business Software Alliance. It says the use of illegal programmes caused the industry losses of 2.5 billion CZK (147m USD). The Czech Republic is now approaching the European Union average of 36 percent use of fake computer programmes, and the latest figure represents quite a change from a decade previously: in 1994 two-thirds of the programmes here were pirated.

Chinese tourist numbers double

The number of Chinese tourists visiting the Czech Republic is rising fast, Mlada fronta Dnes reported this week. While there were 17,000 in 2005, last year that figure had doubled. And the numbers look set to keep rising; tourism entrepreneur Tomio Okamura told the paper that tourists from China would soon outnumber Japanese visitors. State agency CzechTourism currently has one office in Beijing, but is planning to open more branches elsewhere in China.