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Czech Watch - 1 June 2001

01.06.2001 8:45

-Konsolidacni banka (KoB) might borrow an estimated Kc60bn for the purchase of bad loans of Investicni a Postovni banka (IPB) from Ceskoslovenska obchodni banka (CSOB) which took them over after IPB's collapse. The possible move probably arises from the addendum to the original contract for state guarantees signed by CSOB and the state. According to CSOB's latest proposal, KoB should in the near future buy nearly Kc100bn worth of IPB's assets from CSOB.

-Compared to the corresponding period of 2000, the average wage in the businesses measured grew by 9.3% (CZK 1 128) in the 1st quarter of 2001 to amount to CZK 13 289. Over the same period, consumer prices rose by 4.1%; real wages grew by 5.0 %. In contrast to the development in 2000, average wages grew almost identically in both business and non-business spheres in the 1st quarter of 2001. In the former, they grew by 9.3% (CZK 1 178) to CZK 13 791 and real wages rose by 5.0%. In the latter, they grew by 9.4% (CZK 969) to CZK 11 292 and real wages rose by 5.1%. Compared with the corresponding period of 2000, the differences among individual industries became even larger in the 1st quarter of 2001. The coefficient of variation grew by 2.6 percentage points up to 29.7%.

-Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) chairman Cyril Svoboda has written a letter of apology to former party deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek for statements Svoboda made about Kalousek's work at the Defence Ministry. Svoboda made the statements earlier this year when he was the head of the Quad-Coalition and was trying to form a shadow cabinet. He refused to have Kalousek in the cabinet and resigned when he did not get party backing for his stance. Kalousek himself resigned not long after.

-German power company E.ON said on Thursday it was in talks with the dominant Czech power company CEZ to end a contract under which CEZ supplies electricity to E.ON. CEZ's supplied E.ON with three terawatt hours of power last year, or around four percent of CEZ's annual production. It has planned to export a total of 12 TWh this year through various partners. CEZ said E.ON was in a difficult position due to "political tension connected with the situation in electro-energy between Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic."

-The Czech koruna slumped by CZK 0.3 to this year's low of 40.40 CZK/USD yesterday in reaction to the euro's fall on world markets, while to the euro it hit 34.07 CZK/EUR yesterday morning, standing a mere Kc0.02 from an all-time high. After hitting 34.07 CZK/EUR, the koruna retreated to 34.25 CZK/EUR on nerves about the outcome of today's session of the Czech National Bank (CNB) Board. After the Bank Board session, however, it shot up again. Bonds eased after wage data released in the morning. Real wage growth accelerated to 5.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, prompting some analysts to warn against potential inflationary impacts. The 6.95/16 state bond fell 40 basis points from late Wednesday 101.10/40, yielding 6.82/79 percent from 6.78/75 percent. The state 6.75/05 remained flat at 103.35/65, yielding 5.71/62 percent.

(David Marek)

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