In Business News: police are investigating the disappearance of over 22 million dollars from the Czech Consolidation Agency; Czechs are borrowing at record levels; the prime minister wants Russia to supply cheaper natural gas for power stations; the supermarket chain Delvita is denying reports it plans to pull out of the Czech Republic; and the rights to many classic Czech films are bought by a private investor.
Consolidation Agency loses millions, sacks man responsible for "transaction"
The Czech Consolidation Agency, which is the country's state-run bail-out agency, says over 22 million dollars it sent abroad has gone missing. The agency transferred the money via its IMOB unit to an account in Switzerland, with the intention of earning interest on the sum, which it had done successfully a year previously. But when officials from the Consolidation Agency looked for the money they found no record of the transaction. They are blaming Jan Sik, who was dismissed as IMOB chief executive when the disappearance was discovered. The police's anti-corruption squad is investigating the matter.
Czechs borrowing at record levels: press
Czechs are borrowing at record levels, Hospodarske noviny reported this week. In the first quarter of this year they borrowed twice as much as in the same period in 2004, the paper said. People are not only taking out more new loans to buy property: borrowing to pay for consumer goods has also increased markedly. Analysts say the figures reflect confidence in the Czech economy.
Cheaper gas from Russia would mean no more expansion of Temelin
The Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has written to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to secure cheaper natural gas for Czech power stations. Currently all natural gas imported from Russia is at the same price, but Mr Paroubek wants a 20-percent cut in charges for gas used to produce electricity. A spokesperson for the Czech Environment Ministry said if the reduction was approved, the Czech Republic would not need to complete more units of the Temelin nuclear power station in south Bohemia.
Delvita here to stay, says management
The management of the Belgian company Delhaize has denied media reports that its Delvita supermarket chain is going to pull out of the Czech Republic. In fact, the company said, Delvita will invest over 20 million dollars in its Czech network; it currently has 95 shops around the country and plans to open four more this year.
Private investor buys rights to hundreds of films made by Barrandov studios
The rights to many classic Czech films have changed hands, Hospodarske noviny reported this week. The paper said private investor Milos Petana bought Atelier Bonton Zlin, the company which owns the archive of the famous Barrandov film studios, last month. According to earlier estimates by The Financial Times the deal would have been worth between 9 and 22 million dollars. The archive contains around 800 Czechoslovak films made between 1965 and 1991.
Sales of motorcycles up, despite more competition from second-hand bikes
The sale of new motorcycles in the Czech Republic is on the rise, despite growing competition from second-hand bikes imported from abroad, the Automotive Industry Association said this week. In the first quarter of this year sales of new motorbikes were up a whopping 43 percent. Fifteen percent more second-hand bikes were imported in the same period, most of them coming from Germany and the Netherlands.