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Aero Vodochody

Aero Vodochody sold to Penta. Czech airline CSA reports passenger increase. Czech government implements anti-corruption program. Czech lawmakers approve main lines of the 2007 state budget. Brno seeks to puts itself on map as biotech centre.

Aero Vodochody sold to Penta

Aero Vodochody
The government on Wednesday approved the sale of its 99.97 stake in aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody to a Czech-Slovak investment group, Penta, for the price of 2.91 billion crowns (102 million euro; 128 million US dollar). Penta said it would use the company's airfield to develop a commercial airport for low-cost airlines. The other bidders included a consortium made up of Czech and Slovak investment companies PPF Investments and J&T Finance, Slovak investment company Eco-Investment AS and Czech machinery maker Slovacke strojirny AS. Penta sees Aero's main potential in cooperating with leading world producers of aircraft and aircraft parts. Aero makes subsonic L-159 trainer jets for the Czech military, and carries out subcontract work for other aircraft makers, including Airbus and Boeing.

Czech airline CSA reports passenger increase

The Czech airline CSA announced on Thursday it carried 4.2 million passengers in the first nine months of the year, which is a 5-percent rise compared with the same period in 2005. The state-controlled carrier said the increase was largely due to higher demand on routes to Eastern Europe. Czech Airlines CSA reported a loss of 773 million crowns (27.3 million euros, 34.3 million dollars) in the first half of the year compared with 533 million koruna in the same period a year earlier. The company is implementing a plan to break even by 2008 that includes the sale of none-core assets such as its catering division and Prague cargo terminal.

Czech government implements anti-corruption program

The Czech government this week adopted a vast anti-corruption programme which includes a hotline for citizens to report wrongdoing. The announcement comes amid a spate of corruption scandals in which top officials have been implicated in the misuse of EU funds. Operated together with the Czech branch of the Transparency International anti-corruption watchdog, the hotline is also meant to provide callers with legal advice. According to Interior Minister Ivan Langer, the new program is centred around prevention, transparency and punishment. In addition to the hotline, the programme calls for stiffer punishments for public officials guilty of corruption and establishing special tribunals and anti-corruption agents.

Czech lawmakers approve main lines of the 2007 state budget

Czech lawmakers approved the main lines of the 2007 state budget in its first reading on Thursday. The budget proposal, which counts on a deficit of 91.3 billion crowns (3.22 billion euros, 4.05 billion US dollars) was backed by all the parties in the lower house with the exception of the Communists. The budget was proposed by the caretaker Civic Democrat government. Last-minute support was won from the second-biggest party, the Social Democrats, with a promise that further consultations would take place before the sale of any shares in Czech power giant, CEZ. The government planned to offload a minority stake in the power company, 67.7-percent owned by the state, with the target of raising 31 billion crowns. The plans have been fiercely opposed by the Social Democrats. Finance minister, Vlastimil Tlusty, promised to seek other possible means of raising cash to meet the shortfall if the CEZ stake of around 7.0 percent is not sold. Cash from the partial CEZ sale had been earmarked for a government fund for transport infrastructure.

Brno seeks to puts itself on map as biotech centre

A Czech bid to develop its second city, Brno, as a leading global biotechnology centre was outlined at an international conference in the city on Wednesday. The city's hopes of winning a leading position in a sector tipped to become the most dynamic for the global economy in future years is based on a series of infrastructure projects around the city. The centrepiece is a 69-million euro International Clinical Research Centre being founded by a local hospital and the prestigious US-based Mayo clinic. It is the first venture outside the US by the non-profit clinical, educational and research foundation. Backers of the project, whose groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday, put it in same category as the International Space Station and Swiss-based CERN nuclear research site in terms of its potential to boost international research, particularly US-EU cooperation.