In Business News: Vodafone has halted plans to launch a UMTS mobile phone network; the Telecoms Office is considering allowing a fourth mobile operator to enter the Czech market; Zdenek Bakala plans to seek a listing for his coal company OKD on the London and Paris stock exchanges; Prague's Ruzyne airport runs into difficulties with plans to build a new runway; and two Czech banks open cashless branches in an effort to combat the problem of hold-ups.
Vodafone drops plans for 3G mobile network
Vodafone, the smallest of the Czech Republic's three mobile phone operators, has halted plans to launch a UMTS - or third generation - network because the return on its investment would be too low, a spokesperson said this week. The company paid almost 100 million dollars for the licence and was going to launch 3G services in 2008. It appears, however, that Vodafone will not return the licence - it's keeping open the option of using it at some time in the future.
Fourth mobile operator considered
Meanwhile, the Czech Telecoms Office is considering allowing a fourth mobile operator to enter the Czech market, its chairman Pavel Dvorak told reporters this week. He said, however, that a fourth player would be unlikely to succeed as the market is so highly saturated. At present Telefonica O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone have 11.5 million customers between them - that in a country with a population of ten million.
Coal tycoon wants London, Paris listings
Zdenek Bakala, a Czech financier turned coal baron, plans to seek a listing for his company OKD on the London and Paris stock exchanges from the start of next year, the Financial Times reported. The listing would be the culmination of an extensive two-year restructuring of OKD, the Czech Republic's biggest black-coal mining company. Mr Bakala is pursuing acquisitions across central and eastern Europe as he attempts to build an international coal empire.
Prague airport faces problems over plans for new runway
Prague's Ruzyne airport has run into difficulties with plans to build a new runway, after a change to the zoning map allowing for its construction was struck down in court this week. The court ruled that Prague City Hall didn't take into account all the objections of residents and did not conduct an environmental impact assessment. For their part the airport's management said the new runway would greatly reduce traffic on an auxiliary runway, reducing noise in an area inhabited by 150,000 people. Noise would increase over a less densely populated area, it said.
Cashless banks opened to combat stick-ups
Two Czech banks have begun opening cashless branches in an effort to combat the problem of hold-ups, Hospodarske noviny reported this week. Between them Postovni sporitelna and Komercni banka have launched nearly 30 outlets where money can neither be deposited nor withdrawn. Other banks have reduced the amount customers can withdraw on the spot. Last year there were 182 reported robberies of banks and post offices, considerably higher than the 34 recorded three years previously.