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Czech Watch - 7 September 2001

7.9.2001 11:03

Temelin nuclear power plant and the Benes decrees dominated talks between Czech President Vaclav Havel and Austrian President Thomas Klestil yesterday. Klestil said that although the issue of Temelin is connected with the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, the Czechs should not be blackmailed by an Austrian threat to veto their EU-entry. Havel argued that serious issues like this ought to be discussed by experts and should not be misused by populist politicians. Both presidents expressed their satisfaction with EU involvement in the matter. Regarding the Benes decrees under which Germans were deported from Czechoslovakia after WWII, Havel stressed that the decrees had already been morally condemned, but removing them from the Czech law system would be difficult. Klestil emphasized that suffering of 3m of Sudeten should be "acknowledged as a wrong and rectified."

Construction output grew 19.7 % year-on-year in July after working days adjustment. Large multi-function centers, large transport constructions, construction activities financed by foreign investors, and a larger volume of construction work done abroad were the key factors affecting the strong growth. An extreme output growth rate was measured in large construction enterprises with 1000+ employees (+43 % year-on-year). Average nominal wage in construction rose 8.7 % year-on-year; real wage increased 2.6 %. Labor productivity grew 21.2 % and unit wage costs dropped 10.3 %.

The protesting car importers and driving schools' representatives finished their road blockades in Prague yesterday morning after their representatives had met the Senate’s Chairman Pavel Pithart. The protest action was also discussed by the political board of the ODS. KDU-CSL said it believed that a number of the protesters' demands were grounded, but it was intolerable to keep the public "hostage" in an effort to push the demands through. The organizers estimate the number of participants in the protest at more than 700.

The Plzensky Prazdroj Group, comprising Plzensky Prazdroj, Radegast and Velke Popovice, signed a CZK6bn 5Y syndicated loan with a group of 17 banks led by Citibank, CSOB and HSBC Investment Bank. The loan is one of the highest loans ever granted to a company based in the Czech Republic and will replace long-term loans of all three breweries. South African Breweries (SAB), the owner of the group, is planning to invest the money in upgrading production and distribution in all three breweries. The Plzensky Prazdroj group’s real sales abroad rose 29.2 % year-on-year in 2001H1. Overall real sales increased 0.3 % in the same period.

The Czech crown first strengthened against the euro on Thursday in reaction to positive construction output data released in the morning but later dipped again. In late afternoon, CZK/EUR was trading at 34.11/14, slightly above late Wednesday’s 34.15/18. CZK/USD firmed to 38.14/16 from 38.38/40 late on Wednesday.

Bond prices fell in the morning yesterday because of rising yields in the eurozone and reported strong domestic construction activity but resumed growth in the afternoon. The state 6.95/16 bond was trading flat at 101.55/85 late on Thursday, yielding 6.77/74 %. The state 6.75/05 dipped 15bps to 101.65/95, yielding 6.19/09 %. Today, CZK 5bn of a new state bond CZ 6.05/04 will be auctioned off.

Late on September 6 bond yield Late on September 5
State 6.75/05101.65/956.19/09101.80/10
State 6.95/16101.55/856.77/74101.55/85

(Martin Kupka)

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