The Czech bank ČSOB said on Wednesday an arbitration tribunal had rejected a 33.3 billion crown ($1.73 billion) claim by the Czech state, clearing the last major litigation case ahead of ČSOB's planned initial public offering. The bank said the tribunal in Paris had also granted it a 1.6 billion crown award against the state, plus interest. The Finance Ministry declined to comment but said it would hold a news briefing on the matter on Thursday. The disputes are related to the 2000 takeover by ČSOB of collapsing bank IPB, in a deal agreed with the state and involving state guarantees.
Czech scientists are working on a substance that may revolutionarize the process of mending broken bones. The daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday that scientists at the Chemical Faculty of the University of Technology in Brno are testing a revolutionary new hydro-gel which can be injected directly into the vicinity of a broken bone and will firmly fixate it within a matter of seconds. The gel moreover contains medicaments which speed up the healing process. Once the bone is fully healed the hydro-gel dissipates without any negative side effects. The substance is currently being tested on animals.
Russian citizens own more Czech-registered companies than any other foreign nationals, according to a report published by ČEKIA, a leading Czech financial information agency. The report says an increasing number of Russian entrepreneurs are choosing the Czech Republic as a base from which to launch businesses in the European Union. The main factors attracting Russian investors to the Czech Republic are: linguistic proximity, relatively low labour costs, and the reputation of Czech goods in Russia as offering quality at competitive prices.
Seventy percent of Czechs believe that the current coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas will not stay its course for a full four year term until 2014 according to a survey released by the Lidové noviny newspaper on Wednesday. Respondents were questioned between December 25 and 27, in the wake of the corruption scandal which forced the resignation of the environment minister and unsuccessful vote of no confidence tabled in the government. Around of third of those questioned said the current coalition would split and not survive 2011 in its current form.
Czechs who have recently lost their jobs are scrambling to register with labour offices before the end of the year in order to avoid the tougher conditions relating to unemployment benefits which are due to take effect as of January 1st. An amendment to the labour code pushed through within the government’s austerity measures for 2010 will mean less money for those who left their job of their own accord and will no longer make it possible for people to make some extra money on the side. People who have been given severance will also not be eligible for benefits over a given period of time. Those who register before the end of the year will benefit from the present labour code.
Czech cinemas are expected to post record-high sales this year, with sales between January and November at 1.4 billion crowns, up by 1.6 million as compared to the whole of last year, according to data released by the Union of Film Distributors. In the first eleven months of this year cinemas registered 12.55 million visitors, up by around 80,000 against 2009. Sales were also boosted by higher ticket prices.
Police in the town of Rychnov nad Kneznou are investigating the death of a married couple who were shot to death in their home two days ago. Relatives alerted the police when they failed to answer the door. A legally held weapon found next to one of the bodies indicates it may have been a planned suicide or a murder followed by a suicide. The police are questioning relatives and neighbours.
Two Czech hunters took an involuntary swim in an icy river and then got stranded on a steep bank in a bizarre accident involving a wild boar they had just shot, a local paper reported. On Sunday, two hunters shot the animal near Turnov, about 90 kilometres northwest of Prague, but the boar rolled down a steep slope and fell in the Jizera river. Determined not to lose their game the men got into a canoe to retrieve the animal but its capsized and the hunters found themselves stranded and shivering on the deserted opposite bank. They spent over an hour on the bank before they were rescued by the local fire brigade.
US president Barack Obama is faced with making a new nomination to fill the long vacant post of US ambassador to Prague. Time has run out for the current nominee, presidential ethics advisor Norman Eisen to be cleared by the current Congress meaning that a new name must be advanced or Eisen nominated again. Congress failed to clear Eisen’s candidature after it was advanced at the end of June. The result of the long delay will be that the Czech Republic will go into the new year with two years clocked up since the last US ambassador left his post. President George Bush junior’s ambassador Richard Graber left in January 2009. Analysts say the long vacancy is damaging Czech-US relations. Congress convenes again in January.
The Ministry of Justice has proposed sweeping changes to a 30-year-old law aimed at improving the selection and performance of legally certified experts. The decisions and recommendations of such experts are often crucial in deciding legal disputes. The ministry, however, admits that conditions for selecting experts and ensuring their competence are lacking under the existing rules. The planned makeover of those rules was unveiled at the ministry on Tuesday. They will seek to introduce financial penalties and disqualification and seek to strengthen the conditions for selecting experts. The suggested changes should be passed on to the government by the end of the year and could become law by the autumn of 2011.