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Czech Watch - 24 July 2001

24.7.2001 8:45

- According to a recent CVVM survey, the Quad Coalition would win parliamentary elections if they were held at the beginning of July. 4K would gain 23 % of votes, next follows the CSSD (20 %), the ODS (18 %) and the KSCM (13 %). The survey showed that people were increasingly willing to participate in the voting. While at the beginning of the year, only 50 % were ready to go to polls, in July the number of people willing to vote rose to 68 %.

- Unipetrol, the parent company of the Unipetrol holding, announced its gross profits rise by 67.3 % year-on-year to CZK 69.6m in 2001H1. The figures are unaudited, unconsolidated, and by Czech accounting standards. Unipetrol holds 100 % of Chemopetrol and Kaucuk, as well as 77 %t of Benzina, 51 % of Ceska rafinerska and 83 % of Paramo. All the units except for Benzina reported profits for the first half of this year. The state controls some 63 % of Unipetrol through the National Property Fund. A tender for the state-held majority in Unipetrol should be declared by mid-August, and the cabinet should pick up the winner by end-2001. Expected privatization revenues amount to CZK 10-16bn.

- The Upper Austrian government reportedly agreed to file a suit against the CEZ, which is the operator of the Temelin nuclear power plant. Upper Austria would act at the court as the owner of a land site in the district close to the Czech border afraid of impacts, which could cause an accident at the power plant. A purpose of the lawsuit is to get an internationally recognized technical level determined at the power plant.

- Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl has prepared two options for the cabinet of financing the measures adopted in reaction to the BSE occurrence in the Czech Republic. According to the first option, CZK 180m would be transferred from the chapter General Cash Administration. The other option proposes to draw money from the Environment Fund. Fencl´s ministry favors the first alternative. The ministry originally planned to take the needed sum from the Land Fund, but Deputies voted down the proposal. State Veterinary Institutes in Prague and Jihlava have so far tested 25471 samples of cattle brains for BSE with a single positive result.

- The Czech crown strengthened early on Monday but later euro/crown buys from abroad pushed it back in the afternoon. Nonetheless, the crown was up to 33.84/87 CZK/EUR late on Monday from 33.90/93 late Friday. Against the dollar, crown weakened to 39.01/04 from 38.88/91 late Friday.

- Bond prices changed little on Monday. In weak trading, bonds with long maturity slightly firmed, while corporate bonds somewhat dipped. The longest state 6.95/16 bond gained 10 basis points from late Friday to 99.00/30, yielding 7.06/02 %. The state 6.75/05 finished practically flat at 100.80/10, yielding 6.47/38 %.

late July 23 bond yield late July 20
State 6.75/05100.80/106.47/38100.85/15
State 6.95/1699.00/307.06/0298.90/20

(Martin Kupka)

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