Winterthur, Credit Suisse Group's insurance unit, bought 93 percent of Vojensky Otevreny Penzijni Fond AS, the No. 1 Czech pension fund, for about $70 million to expand services and compete better on the Czech market. Winterthur gained the fund as part of Credit Suisse's purchase of Czech financial holding company Union Group late last year. Winterthur, which already has about 190,000 clients for its own pension funds in the country, with a market share of about 10 percent, said it could increase that share to about 25 percent after the Vojensky takeover.
The Czech Republic said on Thursday it had asked the European Union and several nations with closer ties to Cuba to pressure Havana to free two prominent Czechs being held for meeting anti-Castro dissidents. Cuba has said parliamentarian and ex-finance minister Ivan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik will be tried for "counter-revolutionary" plotting on behalf of U.S. interests. They were arrested last week in central Ciego de Avila province, drawing a protest from Prague and further souring already hostile ties between the one-time Socialist bloc allies.
It will auctioned CZK 5 billion tranche of 15-year state bonds today, the longest state bond to date and the first of what is expected to be a wave state issues this year. The bonds, which will overtake last year's 10-year issue, will have an annual coupon of 6.95 percent. The Finance Ministry has set no maximum limit yield for the issue.
The Czech koruna has been hit hard by poor economic data on Wednesday, falling through the 35.600 level against the euro, its lowest level since October. But the currency rebounded strongly in the early hours of yesterday‘s trading and then steadied to trade in a range of 35.260 to 35.360 against the euro through the afternoon.
The current longest state 6.40/10 bond was down 50 basis points at 96.25/55, yielding 6.96/6.91 percent. The state 6.75/05 dipped 10 basis points to 101.05/101.35, yielding 6.44/36.