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Czech Watch - 13 November 2001

13.11.2001 11:55

- Deputies of the Austrian governing People's Party (OeVP) and the Freedom Party (FPOe) drafted a joint resolution about Temelin nuclear power plant and conditions for their country's consent to the closure of the energy chapter in the Czech Republic's EU accession negotiations. The draft does not include the threat of blocking the accession but asks the Czech Republic to pledge to push through the measures arising from the report on Temelin's environmental impact and to solve seven security problems in the plant highlighted by Austrian experts. The Czech Republic should also bind the new owner of the plant's operator CEZ to push through the agreed steps. The opposition Greens and the Social Democrats will present their remarks on the draft text on Friday. The final document is then to be debated by the Lower House of the Austrian Parliament. A referendum will be held in mid-January that wants to link the Czech Republic's EU accession with the launching of the commercial operation of the Temelin plant.

- Banking Association head Pavel Kavanek said the EC would appreciate the completed bank privatization in the Czech Republic and its contribution to the stability and competitiveness of the banking sector in its annual report on progress towards EU accession to be published today. On the other hand, the report may criticize the fact that the amendments to the laws on banks and the Czech National Bank (CNB), designed to bring the Czech legislation on par with the acquis communautaire, have not passed through the entire legislative process, Kavanek added. The passage of both amendments had been postponed till the Parliament session to be held in February 2002. The amended law on banks cancels deposit passbooks, rejected by the acquis, while the amendment to the CNB law removes shortcomings of the previous amendment which, according to the EU, threatened the central bank's independence.

- Premier Zeman announced that talks were under way on another industrial zone near Ostrava which would enable the creation of up to 5t jobs. The investment is related to the law on agricultural land. North Moravia offers around 240 hectares of land in seven industrial zones. The Nova Pole zone of Karvina is already 80 % occupied, with Japanese firm Shimano being the biggest investor here. Three companies have announced their entry into the Cerveny dvur zone of Krnov. British Dura Automotive Systems has builds a production facility in Koprivnice-Vlcovice zone and Dutch company Cirex B.V. has a lease contract there. Czech-Spanish firm Ingelectric is the first investor active in the Scientific-Technological Park of Ostrava. Another three industrial zones, in Ostrava-Hrabova, Mosnov and Trinec-Baliny, have still been waiting for investors.

- Upon his return from the US, Premier Zeman said that in addition to the consortium Saab-BAE Systems, also US company Lockheed Martin has in recent days shown interest in Aero Vodochody. "The company expressed interest for the time being at a general level and with no particular specification," Zeman added. Lockheed Martin is the largest US arms maker, which was considered a potential supplier of F-16 fighters to the Czech Army. The cabinet is to decide on purchasing 36 Gripens produced by Saab-BAE Systems by the end of November this year. Aero is controlled by the state, which holds some 65 % of the company. A joint venture of Boeing and the Czech Airlines owns 35 % cent of Aero.

- The Czech crown had opened at 33.32 on Monday and then slightly strengthened to 33.26 CZK/EUR. For the rest of the day, the crown was moving within a narrow range of 33.25-33.29 CZK/EUR. At the end of the session, the crown first dropped but soon recovered again after news had arrived on another plane crash in the US. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 37.25 CZK/USD and slightly weakened in the course of the day in line with USD gains against EUR. Late in the afternoon the crown sharply firmed but soon lost again after an air accident in New York. CZK/EUR was trading at 33.26/29 late on Monday, up from 33.31/34 on Friday evening. CZK/USD closed at 37.11/13 on Monday, up from late Friday’s 37.31/33.

- Bond prices were volatile on Monday but trading was less active compared to previous workdays. The airplane crash in the US supported prices of the longest issues by up to 50bps. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark gained 40bps on Monday to 114.20/50, yielding 5.48/45 %. The state 6.75/05 bond added 25bps compared to Friday’s close to 106.10/35, yielding 4.68/60 %.

Late on November 12 bond yield Late on November 9
State 6.75/05106.10/354.68/60105.85/10
State 6.95/16114.20/505.48/45113.80/10

(Martin Kupka)

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