By Nicholas Watson of bne
Road construction in the Czech Republic has long been a murky business. But insiders grumble that new depths for the industry have been plumbed following a barrage of criticism aimed at plans to renovate the country’s main D1 motorway and revelations from Prague city that the contract to build the now almost-complete €1.3bn Blanka tunnel complex was legally questionable from the start. Continue reading »
Poland has the EU’s best growth record in the last five years, but there is a growing awareness that keeping growth high is going to be increasingly difficult in the future – which is why two recent reports on corruption and educational achievements make such good news. Continue reading »
Central European manufacturing continues to show signs of strength in new purchasing managers index reports released on Monday, indicating that the region is rebounding from the slowdown it experienced late last year and in the first half of this year.
In Poland, the largest CEE economy, manufacturing came in at its strongest level in more than two years. The PMI index, where anything above 50 indicates expansion, was 54.4 in November, up from 53.4 in October. Continue reading »
Poland is thinking of saving its national airline in the same way the Czechs have – by creating a holding company uniting the loss-making carrier with a more profitable airport and ground services operation.
Will it work? Continue reading »
Sniff it and see
By Nicholas Watson of bne
There’s an old saying in the Czech Republic that if a Czech’s goat dies, he won’t pray for another but rather that his neighbour’s goat will die too. And so it was in the 1990s when even though many Czechs were weary of the limited choice from the large brewers that had dominated under communism, they spitefully boycotted an upstart called Stanislav Bernard and his new “honest, traditional unpasteurized beer.”
But today Bernard is having the last laugh. He eventually won over the recalcitrant locals to create one of the country’s largest independent breweries, and in doing so helped foster an industry that has boomed to the point where Czech craft beer makers are now looking to export their products around the world. Continue reading »
By Nicholas Watson of bne
A new Czech government is in the final stages of being formed, but its make-up will probably mean further delays at the very least for the state utility CEZ’s costly nuclear tender.
Czech President Milos Zeman is expected on November 21 to give a mandate to Bohuslav Sobotka, head of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), which won the inconclusive parliamentary election in October, to form the next government. Sobotka has already started talks with the big winner of the election, the new ANO 2011 party founded by Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babis, and the centrist Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). Continue reading »
Maybe it’s time to start preparing for a return wave of CEE migrants from western Europe, as Thursday’s flash GDP third quarter numbers show that most of the region’s economies are experiencing a sharp recovery – in contrast to stagnation in the eurozone.
While the eurozone stumbled to an anaemic 0.1 per cent growth for the quarter, Poland posted a higher-than-consensus expansion of 1.9 per cent, up from only 0.8 per cent in the second quarter.
Continue reading »
If the normally bearish Capital Economics is starting to sing the economic praises of central Europe it might be time to admit that the downturn is well and truly done and that an economic rebound is underway.
Capital Economics was bearish about the future of the euro, and gloomy about the prospects of CEE countries closely tied to the eurozone. Now that the period of greatest danger for the common currency seems to have passed, the London-based analysis outfit is turning strikingly optimistic on central Europe. Continue reading »
The Czech koruna plunged on Thursday after the country’s central bank surprised markets by declaring a Swiss-style policy of currency market interventions to keep the koruna near Kc27 to the euro compared to Kc25.8 prior to the announcement.
The koruna fell by more than 4 per cent, to just below the 27 to the euro mark set by the bank. Continue reading »
By Tim Gosling of bne
PPF Group has sealed a deal to buy a majority stake in the Czech Republic’s largest mobile operator Telefonica CR from the Spanish telecommunications group. The November 5 agreement could put a dent in the Czech regulator’s hopes of encouraging greater competition on the market; it might also herald a new chapter in the emerging markets telecoms business, suggest analysts. Continue reading »
Czech elections created a confusing mess, with no party – or even grouping of two parties – able to command a majority in the country’s 200-member parliament, but the prospect of a long political stalemate is leaving most analysts unruffled. Continue reading »
Martin Roman (pictured), the skilled political player who helped turn the Czech Republic’s CEZ into one of central Europe’s largest utilities, announced Friday that he was resigning as the company’s supervisory board chairman.
Making the announcement on the first day of the country’s two-day parliamentary elections, Roman said in a statement “I did not choose to exit by accident,” and made it clear that the political environment was key in his decision. Continue reading »
A long-running Czech corruption scandal has ground to a conclusion in Switzerland, with a Swiss court convicting five Czechs and one Belgian for their role in the privatisation of a Czech coal company in the late 1990s.
The Swiss had accused them of money laundering and fraud in a scheme to gain control of Mostecka Uhelna Spolecnost (MUS), now part of Czech Coal, that saw the state-controlled company bought by its managers, financed by the company’s own assets. Continue reading »
The century-old global battle over who gets to call their beer Budweiser, the Czech Republic’s Budejovicky Budvar or Beligian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, has seen the Belgians defeated on the Italian front, following a court ruling that allows the Czech brewer to use the brand on the Italian market.
Petr Samec, Budvar’s spokesman, told CTK the Czech news agency on Tuesday that the Italian decision “a great victory”, adding: “This is probably the toughest loss for ABI in more than 100 years of global war for the Budweiser brand.” Continue reading »
A lot of recent numbers indicate that central Europe’s economies have turned the corner and are starting to rebound after a slump late last year and in the first months of 2013.
More data buttressing that case came in over the last few days. In Poland, new car registrations in September were up by 16.5 per cent at 24,963 cars – that’s 13 per cent higher than in August. Continue reading »