03-09-2010

In this week’s business news: Google seeks to seduce Czech searchers; Czech company seeks expansion in tractor’s home town; central bank sees rising number of problem loans; institutions put spotlight on financial illiteracy; and Prague scores well as business location.

Google launches tv ad spots to grab bigger market share

US Internet search giant Google has gone onto the attack in the Czech Republic by launching a local ad campaign to boost its lowly position. The campaign, Love from Paris, shows how a young Czech student finds the love of his life, marriage and eventually fatherhood thanks to Google searches about the French capital and language. The Czech Republic is only one of five countries worldwide where the US-based search engine is not in number one position where it is present. Pole position is taken by Seznam which according to some calculations is used by 60 percent of people for Internet searches with Google chosen by just 20 percent.

Czech tyre producer rolls out US expansion plans

Staying with the US, Czech tyre maker Česká Gumárenská Společnost, has announced a 44 million dollar investment in the home of the farm tractor, Iowa’s Charles City. ČGS is committed to building a tractor tyre plant that will eventually roll out over 12,000 tonnes of tyres a year there and employ around 260 when it is fully running in 2012. Global demand for tractor tyres has recovered in the first six months of the year after a serious puncture in 2009. Charles City’s Charles Walter Hart is credited with coining the word tractor after he launched mass production there at the start of the 20th century.

Central bank put spotlight on non-performing loans

The Czech National Bank forecasts that local banks will see their ratio of problematic business loans rise to 10 percent by the middle of next year from around 8.5 percent now. That forecast is based on the bank’s current prediction of steady, but unremarkable, 1.6 percent economic growth this year. The proportion of so-called non-performing household loans should rise to 5.5 percent from the current 4.5 percent. The central bank’s crystal ball gazing forms part of its stress tests to work out how resistant banks would be if the economic going gets tough or really tough.

Watchdogs seek to get to grips with financial illiteracy

The central bank has teamed up with the Ministry of Finance to get a clearer picture of Czechs’ financial literacy with the results set to be made public in November. A previous survey in 2007 did not give very encouraging results with half of the respondents admitting that their ignorance or lack of understanding prevented them from making use of some financial services. That survey also suggested half the population could not pinpoint the inflation rate within a five percentage point margin of error and a fifth of the population could not properly calculate the compound costs of taking out a loan.

Prague takes second spot in regional business beauty ranking

A survey has put Prague as the second most attractive business location in Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech capital lags only behind Vienna in the survey by consultants Roland Burger. Prague got high marks for its public transport, cultural environment and education but scored poorly on healthcare and pollution. The latest survey confirms the findings by real estate company Cushman and Wakefield last year which ranked Prague as the most attractive location out of all the cities in the former Eastern block.

03-09-2010