In this week’s Business News: minister seeks duty cut on beer; Iraq seen widening military shopping list in Czech Republic; solar power case causes bank concerns; PPF pulls plug on power company cooperation; and Czech Post considers banking metamorphosis.
Czech agriculture minister Marian Jurečka says he is considering pushing for a cut in the excise duty on beer. He said the previous hike resulted in a drop in production and lower earnings for the state. Duties were raised by caretaker finance minister Edvard Janota in 2010. Last year Czech beer production rose slightly but domestic consumption dropped by just over one percent with total sales supported by stronger exports.
Iraq could be interested in the purchase of up to 40 combat helicopters. The Czech Ministry of Defense says that talks over the sale of Russian produced Mi-24 helicopters are ongoing with the possibility some, but certainly not all, could be furnished by the ministry’s specialized repair and servicing company, LOM. Iraq has previously expressed interest in purchasing excess to requirement L-159 sub-sonic fighter and trainer planes. The ministry pointed out that the current instability in Iraq is complicating a final deal.
A Czech court has taken what has been described as a ‘Pandora’s box’ decision by rescinding the license of a significant solar power company. Brno’s regional court took the decision with regard to the license awarded in 2010 and is demanding the return of around 40 million crowns a year in subsidies for renewable electricity production received since that date. The plant was owned by the company Solar CD which took out substantial bank loans to cover construction costs and there is a danger now that the banks could now lose out. A series of similar licensing cases are waiting in the wings.
A major shake-up has taken place at one of the Czech Republic’s biggest power companies. The PPF group dominated by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, is selling out its 40 percent stake in the Energetický a Průmyslový Holding group to the other shareholders for a sum reckoned to total more than 30 billion crowns. The new arrangement gives businessmen Daniel Křetínský and Patrik Tkáč 37 percent shares each with the J&T investment group owning the remaining stake.
The Czech post office says it is looking at the possibility of getting a banking license and launching its own banking services. At the moment the post office is teamed up with one of the country’s biggest banks, ČSOB, to offer financial services, but that agreement runs out in 2017. Separately, the government has said it will keep Czech Post’s 3,200 strong network of main and local branches intact in spite of pressure to make savings by cutting loss making sub post offices.