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Czech Watch - 12 June 2000

12.7.2000 8:20

After a short break (Patria has moved to new premises) the Czech Watch is back. Meanwhile, the ground has changed. We had been actively following the Czech banking sector that underwent a tectonic changes in June. The third biggest Czech bank, ailing IPB was brought under the forced administration and consequently sold to the fourth biggest one - CSOB. The new entity is the biggest country financial group, but it is only now finding what it owns and what was channeled to various vehicles used by former IPB management. Politicians raise concern as well, as the IPB was behind some of the shadow deals and it (has?) controlled the country's two private TV stations. We will keep a wary eye on further development.
To finish the Czech banking saga, two banks remain to be on the block: Czech government seeks a buyer for Komercni and is about to discuss its privatization schedule just today. A consortium of owners (mainly North-Moravian industrial firms) has been desparately looking for a buyer for its Union banka group. The French Paribas-BNP remains to be the only interested buyer.
The Czech koruna fared well on Tuesday, gaining against the dollar to 37.30 CZK/USD and to 35.50 CZK/EUR. These are levels that provoked the central bank intervention in late March. So, how long?
Czech bonds fell again on Tuesday, awaiting June CPI figures. CPI forecasts range from 0.1 to 0.5 m-to-m, we expect figures 0.3 or higher to push bond prices much lower than Tuesday's closes. Longest bonds were again the most losing ones on Tuesday, but untraditionally also 3 year maturities were falling. KB mortgage issues were also the most losing on this day, as the yield starts to be non-attractive compared to now-state-guaranteed IPB mortgage bonds. Despite pretty high yield, also the corporate bonds are still falling.
Current benchmark prices: MoF 6.75/05 99.85-15 (-50 bps), MoF 6.30/07 96.70-00 (-25 bps), MoF 6.40/10 96.80-10 (-50 bps).

(Ondrej Schneider and Dalimil Vyskovsky)

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