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Czech Watch - 16 March 2001

16.3.2001 8:55

- Skoda Auto, the largest Czech-based company and biggest exporter, member of Volkswagen Group and the most important car producer in the country, disclosed audited last year´s results. Net profit of the company rose 26.5 %, sales jumped 23,4 % and investment increased by 23.7 % in 2000. The firm predicts slower sales growth in 2001, but believes its market share will expand.

"Last year's result was influenced by high write-offs, which followed large investments in the past years and which we will continue...and also by the exchange rate (crown against the euro)," commented Financial Director Klaus Wulf published figures at a news conference.

The share of Skoda Auto in total Czech exports achieved 9.9 % in 2000; 81.4 % of sold cars found their buyers abroad. The most important foreign outlet for Skodas is Western Europe, where the number of sold cars rose 13 % last year. The highest relative market share kept Skoda Auto in Slovakia (57.2 %), Czech Republic followed with 52.7 %. This year, the company plans to raise output up to 2000 cars per day and negotiate construction of assembly lines for their vehicles in India and Russia.

- The central bank's board held its weekly meeting on Thursday, but did not take any monetary policy decisions. The board is due to discuss interest rates at its regular monthly monetary policy meeting on March 29.

- Eleven companies expressed their written interest to become investment advisor to the National Property Fund in the case of privatization of Nova hut, the largest Czech steel producer. The strategic partner of Nova hut should be found by the end of this year. The principal criteria to be observed during the selection process will be buying price and quality of the business plan proposed by the candidates. The strategic partner will be offered a 67.25 % stake in Nova hut.

- The Czech crown crept below the 34.50 technical level to the euro and achieved therewith its one-month peak (34.47) on Thursday. The principal reason for strengthening of CZK against EUR was continuing losses of EUR vs. USD.

Bonds began to recover on Thursday after their two-day fall, caused by higher than expected February PPI released on Tuesday.

A central bank Dutch-style auction of a CZK 10.0bn tranche of 13-week treasury bills yielded 5.0 percent on Tuesday. The tranche was heavily oversubscribed.

late March 15 bond yield late March 14
State 6.75/05103.75/055.65/57103.65/95
State 6.95/16105.90/206.32/39105.60/90

(Martin Kupka)

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