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Czech Watch - 17 May 2001

17.5.2001 9:24

The Senate postponed until next Thursday its decision on the government draft law proposing the transformation of the state-held Konsolidacni banka (KoB) into the Czech consolidation agency (CKA). Some senators require the draft law to be more specific on the CKA´s right to issue bonds as well as on the legal status and compensation of the CKA employees. A successor institution to the Konsolidační banka has to be established by the end of August 2001. CKA is planned to be abolished by the end of 2011 and not to seek a banking license.

The EC is satisfied with the results of two-day talks of experts which closed the process of the assessment of safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant in accordance with the agreement signed by the Czech and Austrian premiers late last year. First trilateral expert talks between the Czech and the Austrian sides and the EC took place in Vienna in February. Another meeting was held in Prague later, and the closing talks ended in Brussels this week.

A merger of Czech steelworks Nova hut, Vitkovice, and Trinecke zelezarny, recommended by EuroStrategy Consultants (ESC), may take place in six months, including an approval by the European Commission, ESC said. The Czech cabinet should discuss the proposed scheme by the end of July. The new Czech Steel Company (COP) would have to undergo a complete restructuring within three years and it might receive a generous state aid, totaling to some CZK 34.2bn. The aid should be spent on debt clearance, investment grants and financial injections in case of unexpected unfavorable influences (such as an international crisis in the segment). COP is planned to achieve gross earnings of CZK 878m on turnover of CZK 52.2bn next year.

Four bidders are expected to present their binding offers for Tatra lorry maker by the end of June. The investors interested in Zetor tractor producer should submit their bids by the end of July. The binding bid for Tatra should include the price for 91.61 % of its shares along with a proposal for refinancing a CZK 400m loan from KoB.

Industry and Trade Minister Miroslav Gregr sticks to the government plans to sell major electricity and gas companies this year, despite repeated delays in the process. "Despite a small delay the schedule will be achieved, by the end of the year the electricity and gas sectors should be privatized," Gregr told a Czech-French business forum in Prague. Gregr also announced that the government would work on the sale of Unipetrol group in 2001 or early next year.

TeleDanmark announced that it had submitted a new (higher) offer for a 51 % state stake in Ceske Radiokomunikace. The National Property Fund confirmed the information but did not disclose the extent of the change. A source close to the deal told Reuters the price in the new bid was raised "near the requirement of the Czech government".

The Czech crown firmed slightly against the euro in quiet trading on Wednesday. The crown firmed to 34.32/35 to the euro, from 34.41/44 late on Tuesday. Against the dollar, CZK firmed to 38.83/85 from 39.17/19 on Tuesday.

Czech bonds firmed on the back of positive development on foreign markets. The state 6.95/16 was up 10bps at 103.45/75, yielding 6.57/54 %, as the market absorbed news that the Finance Ministry had raised volume in an auction for the bond planned for May 25 to CZK 4bn from CZK 2bn. The state 6.75/05 gained 3bps to 103.65/96, yielding 5.63/54 %. The Wednesday’s gains can be reduced on Thursday following the Finance Ministry’s announcement of an increase in the planned volume of government bonds to be issued in 2001 by CZK 5bn. Ministerial officials explained that a convenient situation on the market combined with strong demand for bonds with long maturities justified the step.

late May 16 bond yield late May 15
State 6.75/05103.65/955.63/54103.62/92
State 6.95/16103.45/756.57/54103.35/65

(Martin Kupka)

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