Business News

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Among the stories in this week's business news, T-Mobile apologises to 800,000 customers after a database glitch leaves them incommunicado, CEZ says the recent hurricane caused 100 million crowns' worth of damage, Unipetrol sells Kaucuk to Poland's Dwory, and CzechInvest and CzechTrade are to merge.

T-Mobile clients left in communicado after database glitch

The country's leading mobile phone network T-Mobile apologised to 800,000 of its clients this week after a database error left them incommunicado on Wednesday morning. It's the first major hiccup for T-Mobile since the autumn of 2000, when its exchange went down. T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has around five million Czech customers - that's around half the population.

CEZ puts January hurricane damage at more than 100 million crowns

Meanwhile the state-run power generator CEZ said that the hurricane-force winds that battered the Czech Republic last month had left a bill of around 100 million crowns, or 4.6 million dollars. The storm - technically a hurricane - brought down high-voltage power lines up and down the country and more than a million customers were left in the dark.

Unipetrol sells Kaucuk to Dwory for 5.5 billion Czech crowns

The Czech petrochemical giant Unipetrol sold its Kaucuk tyre and plastics division to Dwory of Poland for 5.5 billion Czech crowns, or 250 million dollars this week. Unipetrol's core business is refineries, petrochemicals and a network of filling stations, and has started selling off peripheries such as Kaucuk. Analysts were surprised at the price, saying it was higher than the market had expected.

MfD - number of high-earners doubles in last five years

The number of high-earners has doubled over the past five years, the Mlada fronta Dnes daily reported this week. There were nearly 300,000 people earning more than 40,000 crowns in gross monthly wages last year, compared to less than 120,000 five years ago. 40,000 crowns is around 1,800 dollars; the average monthly wage in the Czech Republic is around half that.

Ministry: CzechInvest, CzechTrade to merge

The Trade and Industry Ministry announced this week that it's planning to merge two key government agencies - CzechInvest and CzechTrade. CzechInvest helped lure 176 investors to the Czech Republic last year, in projects worth a record 114 billion crowns or 5.2 billion dollars. CzechTrade, meanwhile, supported export projects worth 3.3 billion crowns - twice the 2005 figure. The two agencies employ about 270 people and have dozens of offices in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Crown rallies against dollar after earlier falls

The Czech crown ended on a high after significant losses earlier this week. The crown had rallied to 28.12 to the dollar at close of trading on Thursday afternoon. Analysts said the rally was partly a result of moves on the dollar-euro market. The strong crown is good for Czech tourists going abroad but is giving Czech exporters grey hairs.

Finance Ministry raises GDP forecast for 2007

The Finance Ministry slightly raised its economic growth forecast for this year to five percent, but slightly lowered its GDP growth projection for last year to 5.9 percent. The 2006 data will be released by the Czech Statistics Office in March. The Finance Ministry's figures are rather more optimistic than the Czech National Bank, which estimates 2007 growth at 4.4 percent.

Budejovicky Budvar pounces on competition with new "panther" beer

And no Czech business round up would be complete without a beer story so here you go - the Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar is introducing a new mid-range beer called Pardal, which means something like "panther" in English. Budvar wants Pardal to compete with Plzensky Prazdroj's Gambrinus. Pardal will be Budvar's first new brew since they introduced a dark ale five years ago.