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Czech Watch - 23 July 2001

23.7.2001 10:00

- According to the CSU, the average monthly wage in the Czech economy rose by a nominal 9.3 % and a real 5.0 % to CZK 13289 in 2001Q1. The highest average monthly gross wage was measured in the segment of data processing (CZK 30252, +14.3 % year-on-year), followed by finance (CZK 28011, +24 % year-on-year). The lowest monthly wage (CZK 8372) was paid to employees in the clothing industry. Lending and insurance were the only monitored segment where wages slipped (but from a relatively high base, for even after the decrease the resulting average wage was still CZK 29051). Average wage in agriculture, including forestry and hunting, remained below average (CZK 9762). Average net monthly pension rose +6.3 % year-on-year to CZK 6302.

- Boeing has invested another USD 15m in Aero Vodochody, in addition to its previous investment of USD 30m. The money will be spent on software for a two-seat trainer L 159 B and training 30 Czech air force pilots. Boeing and Aero negotiate with another five potential buyers of the L 159, besides the Czech military. The likely customers (incl. Slovakia, Venezuela, Colombia) could buy as much as 60-75 planes.

- British Energy is interested in the Czech nuclear power plants, Temelin and Dukovany, with planned combined output of 3.7t MW (Temelin's planned output is close to 2t MW, while Dukovany operates four 440 MW blocks). British Energy is ready to take over Temelin even if the cabinet decides to sell it before it runs full steam. Dukovany has been operating since 1985. To obtain the plants, British Energy is forming a consortium for the forthcoming privatization of CEZ. Czech media speculate that the partner in the prepared consortium could be International Power. The privatization of CEZ and state’s stakes in regional power distributors should be completed by mid-2002. The estimated value of the privatized energy assets is estimated at some CZK 150bn (USD 3.75bn). If the price were achieved, it would be the largest energy sell-off in central Europe. The principal competitor of British Energy in their bidding for CEZ could be Electricite de France, so far considered by many as a front-runner in the privatization exercise.

- The Czech crown first strengthened but later eased back to its morning level in late afternoon trading on Friday. Late on the day, the crown was trading at 33.90/93, or at the same level as Thursday evening. The crown/dollar firmed to 38.88/91 from 39.05/08 late Thursday.

- In weak trading, most bond prices slightly fell. The longest state 6.95/16 bond lost 10 basis points from late Thursday to 98.90/20, yielding 7.07/03 %. The state 6.75/05 dipped 5 basis points to 100.85/15, yielding 6.46/36 %. The most exciting event of this week should be the CNB Board meeting on Thursday, because of possible modification of monetary policy accents that could be agreed there.

late July 20 bond yield late July 19
State 6.75/05100.85/156.46/36100.90/20
State 6.95/1698.90/207.07/0399.00/30

(Martin Kupka)

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