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Czech Watch - 12 September 2001

12.9.2001 10:27

President Havel expressed sympathy with all the victims of the terrorist attack in New York and Washington and believes that the perpetrators will be punished. Chamber of Deputies´ Chairman Klaus called the event a huge disaster that shows how fragile and vulnerable modern civilization is. Government spokesman Roucek told journalists that the Czech government denounces all forms of terrorism, which would be a bigger and bigger risk not only to the USA, but to other countries of the world as well.

CNB governor Tuma told CTK that the central bank did not know whether it would hike interest rates before the end of 2001 or not. According to Tuma, the worldwide economic slowdown is the biggest risk for the Czech price development. Tuma said that the lower inflation in August (+5.5 % year-on-year) suggests that the July price growth of 5.9 % could be a mere one-off swing. Tuma also stressed that interest rate setting always depends on the assessment of the actual economic situation and price developments, as well as on the CNB’s 12-18 month forecast of economic and inflationary developments.

Miroslav Macek resigned as the deputy chairman of the ODS. His decision was prompted by the published information that he received CZK 10m for advising the later winner of the tender for Ceska sporitelna (CS) bank privatization. Macek said that he regarded his business activities as quite legal. Under the controversial contract, Macek pledged to provide consulting services leading towards acquisition of the state-owned stake in CS.

Pernod Ricard (PR) has bought 40 % of the Salb company from Patria Finance. Salb owns 34 % in the second largest Czech liqueur maker Jan Becher - Karlovarska Becherovka (JBKB). Pernod Ricard now holds 80 % of Salb, Karel Schwarzenberg, an individual, owns the remaining 20 %. The government will decide in the upcoming weeks whether it will continue the negotiations with Salb during the privatization of JBKB or alter its past ruling and strip Salb of its majority in JBKB. Premier Zeman said the wisest solution would be to call another tender for the sale of the state-held stake.

The National Property Fund (NPF), said on Tuesday that 12 subjects from Europe and North America have indicated preliminary interest in purchasing 64 % in the power producer CEZ and six power distribution companies. Nine subjects, also from Europe and North America, expressed interest in buying up to 97 % of gas importer Transgas along with eight gas distribution firms. No names of potential bidders were disclosed. The social democratic cabinet wants privatization advisers to pick winners by December 14.

The Czech crown weakened to 34.18/21 against the euro on Tuesday, from 34.11/14 late Monday. The CZK/USD fell to 37.47/49 from Monday's close at 37.96/98.

The longest state benchmark 6.95/16 bond gained 25 basis points to 100.75/05 on Tuesday, yielding 6.86/83 %. The state 6.75/05 bond dipped 25bps to 101.65/95, yielding 6.18/09 %.

Late on September 11 bond yield Late on September 10
State 6.75/05101.65/956.18/09101.90/20
State 6.95/16100.75/056.86/83101.50/80

(Martin Kupka)

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