In this week’s Business News: car production remains in fast lane; Leo Express looks to new investors, airport owner gets positive credit evaluation; new chief for troubled business lobby; no presents for small shareholders on billionaire’s birthday.
Czech car production and sales are continuing to surge ahead this year. Output from the country’s three main plants is just over 13 percent higher in the first four months of the year at just under 431,000 units. Exports are up over the same period by over 6.0 percent and much smaller domestic sales are around 27 percent higher. Bus production is also up but truck output has slipped so far this year.
The head of one of the few private Czech rail passenger companies, Leo Express, has admitted he has lined up a strategic investor to take a stake in the loss-making business. Leoš Novotný says the investor will buy 16 percent of the company ahead of an Initial Public Offering which will offer a further 30 percent block of shares. Novotný says he expects a positive result for the company this year in spite of what he says are considerable subsidies for the main state-controlled passenger rail company.
The Czech Republic’s biggest aviation group, Český Aeroholding, has been given a boost from its first credit rating from the international Moody’s agency. Moody’s gave the group, whose core asset is Prague’s airport, an A3 rating, saying this reflected its stable earnings and ability to increase charges without major problems. The state-controlled group also owns around a third of Czech Airlines with uncertainty over the evolution of this stake the main reason for Moodys also attaching a negative outlook.
Former minister of industry and trade and unsuccessful presidential candidate, Vladimír Dlouhý has got himself selected as one of the Czech Republic’s top business representatives. Dlouhý has been selected as head of the 14,000-strong Czech Chamber of Commerce for a three year term. The previous incumbent in the post was tainted by charges that he received almost 500,000 crowns from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for seminars which never took place. He has pleaded not guilty in an ongoing court case. Dlouhý has voiced the ambition of widening the administrative and advisory roles the chamber could perform to rake in extra cash.
Czech and Central Europe’s richest man Petr Kellner turned 50 this week. But if there was any celebratory good will and gifts being distributed they have not been directed towards minority shareholders in Czech telecom giant Telefónica. Kellner’s main company, PPF, has offered to buy out the small shareholders for a price below that which it bought out two-thirds of Telefónica from its Spanish owner last year. The offer to minority shareholders has followed protracted talks with the Czech National Bank about its final shape.