Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik and his deputy Jan Mladek yesterday said that if the bid prices offered for the government’s 60% stake in KB are similar, the government may take into account other criteria, such as the ability of the bidders to finance Czech industry or their ability to bring further investors into Czech manufacturing. This shift in emphasis need not be excessively bad for the final KB selling price (and indirectly for the stock price) if, indeed, the new criterion is applied only if the differences between the individual binding bids are truly minor. However, there could be a lower-than-otherwise selling price should the government attach great importance to the new criterion, at the expense of maximizing price. For the moment, we do not consider this to be a major threat to the stock, though we cannot rule out further downward pressure on KB today. Binding bids by the four short-listed bidders are due by April.