Daily news summary
Czech national among Berlin terror victims
The Czech Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Czech national was among the victims of the Berlin terrorist attack. The woman resided in Germany long term and her husband reported her missing shortly after the attack. Her identity has been confirmed by a DNA test. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek have sent condolences to her family and offered assistence. The foreign minister later said in a press conference that German authorities had still not identified two victims of the attack but that it was highly unlikely that these were also Czechs. The main suspect of carrying out the Berlin attack was later reported to have been shot dead by Italian police outside Milan.
Lukáš Krpálek chosen as 2016 sports personality
Judo competitor Lukáš Krpálek has been voted the Czech sports personality of 2016. Krpálek won the gold medal in the summer Olympics, the only Czech to win a gold in the Rio competition. Krpálek is the first man in 10 years to win the competition. Second placed in the poll of sports journalists was canoeist Josef Dostál with biathlete Gabriela Koukalová in third place.
Daniel Beneš confirmed for four years more as head of ČEZ
Daniel Beneš has been confirmed as the board chairman of the country’s biggest power company ČEZ for a further four year term. The company, around 70 percent owned by the Czech state, said in a statement that the prolonged term is confirmation that Beneš is on the right track redirecting the electricity company in difficult times due to low power prices. Beneš has topped the power company since 2011. During that time electricity prices have more than halved and ČEZ’s share price has followed them down by the same amount.
Jágr passes Messier for second place in NHL points list
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr now has second-highest points tally in the history of the NHL with 1,888. The forward, who is 44, broke a tie with Mark Messier for no. 2 on the list after notching up an assist in his Florida Panthers 3:1 loss to Boston on Thursday. The all-time NHL points record is 2,857 for Wayne Gretzky; Jágr said prior to Thursday’s game that being second was actually like being first, given that Gretzy was “from another planet”.
Czechs take on debt for Christmas and New Year spending spree
Czechs have turned to debt in a pre-Christmas splurge of spending in November and December, according to the daily Dnes. It said pre-Christmas loans by banks and other lenders are up by around a tenth on the same period in 2015. And many lenders expect the heavy volume of lending to continue into January with the new year sales. One non-bank loans agency said the size of individual loans is around a quarter higher than last year.
Owners of Czech travel agency Invia buy into German market
The owners of the Czech travel agency Invia have bought up the biggest on-line German agency, AIDU as well as the leading air tickets portal, Fluege.de. Joint owners of Invia, the investment group Rockaway and Chine company CEFC said that the deal is expected to be finalized at the start of 2017. The turnover of the two new German acquisitions is estimated at around 924 million euros a year (around 25 billion crowns). The move has been described as a first step into Western European markets.
Czech cinemas expect exceptional box office takings for 2016
Czech cinemas are heading for a boom year in 2016, surpassing 2015 according to attendances so far and the response to end of year blockbusters. 2015 was already a successful year with 12.9 million individual visits and box office takings totalling 1.67 billion crowns. In the first three quarters of 2016, attendances have been around 17 percent higher than last year. A number of pre-Christmas releases have also proved to be hits. These include the fairy story Anděl Páně 2, which has sold 560,000 tickets in three weeks following release, and the latest in the Star Wars saga, Rogue One, which has sold 105,000 tickets.
Czech state debt trimmed to lowest level since 2011
The Czech debt for 2016 should shrink by around 60 billion crowns this year to stand at 1.613 trillion crowns according to minister of finance and ANO leader, Andrej Babiš. That would be the lowest level since 2011. Babiš said that the coalition government had so far trimmed 70 billion crowns off the total state debt. The debt to GDP ratio should fall to 34.3 percent from the end 2015 level of 36.7 percent. Analysts expect the debt to climb by up to 25 billion crowns in 2017.
Prague zoo offers golden pig as part of Christmas attractions
Prague zoo is offering the chance to see a golden pig on Christmas Eve without having to fast for the whole day. The zoo is preparing a series of Christmas period treats. On Christmas Eve children will be allowed into the zoo for just one crown. A special feeding and exercise session of sea lions is also scheduled. The golden pig as well as a polar bear should also be on show. Visitors are also being encouraged to bring in special treats for the animals for Christmas day. These could be dried or fresh fruit, nuts, or biscuits. The legend of the golden pig is party of Czech Christmas lore. It’s said that those who fast on Christmas Eve will see a golden pig. The tradition is said to date back to pre-Christian times. The zoo will be open but with more limited visiting hours over the whole Christmas period.