Czech daily news roundup: Monday, December 20, 2021

Zeman supports Babiš for president, Moneta shareholders to decide on Air Bank merger, Czech Constitutional Court to rule on Segway dispute. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 20.12.2021 09:23:00 (updated on 20.12.2021) Reading time: 6 minutes

15:20 Police find Covid violations at Wenceslas Square markets

Police inspections of markets underway as a “cultural event” in Prague’s Wenceslas Square found circumventions of anti-Covid measures. They have therefore reported the case to Prague City Hall, under whose auspices the markets are taking place. A spokesperson for Prague City Hall said that the case will be dealt with, with fines possible for those responsible going up to CZK 20,000. The markets are running on the understanding that food and drinks, although served, should not be consumed within the markets themselves. It was previously stated that the market’s mode of operations was consulted with all relevant authorities, including the police.

14:05 Fiala to deliver New Year’s address

New Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala will give a televised speech on January 1, his first prime ministerial New Year’s address. On the same day, a speech will also be given by Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil. Chamber of Deputies Chairwoman Markéta Perkarová Adamová is not planning to give a speech, breaking from the precedent set by her predecessor in Andrej Babiš’s ANO-led government. It has become customary for the nation’s leaders to deliver speeches on New Year’s Day since President Miloš Zeman switched the annual presidential address from the New Year to December 26.

13:55 New Czech Radio chief changed following outcry

Czech Radio’s news section will not be taken over by the originally proposed editor-in-chief Jita Obzinová, whose nomination by General Director René Zavoral provoked outcry among employees and criticism from some politicians. Obzinová was accused of bias in her previous work for TV Prima, including reporting with an anti-immigrant slant and support for President Miloš Zeman during his first presidential run in 2013. Czech Radio’s news coverage will now be taken over in a temporary capacity by the current editor-in-chief of Radiožurnál, Ondřej Suchan. The Czech national committee of the International Press Institute and Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism called on general director Zavoral to resign over the originally proposed appointment.

13:20 Moneta and Air Bank merger agreed

Shareholders of Moneta Money Bank agreed on a proposed merger with the PPF Group’s banking wing, which includes Air Bank. A complex financing scheme was agreed during a general meeting held today, resulting in the creation of the third largest banking group by number of clients on the Czech market, after Česká spořitelna and ČSOB. PPF previously declared its intention to maintain the trading of the newly formed bank on the Prague Stock Exchange. The deal agreed today gives existing Moneta shareholders a greater chance of control over the resultant merged entity, as PPF as well as Moneta shareholders will have the chance to buy newly issued shares used to finance the deal.

12:40 Constitutional Court upholds Segway restrictions

The Czech Constitutional Court has upheld restrictions on the use of Segway vehicles in historic areas of Prague, rejecting a complaint by the Segway Association of the Czech Republic. The court found no violation of Segway users’ fundamental rights in the existing law. Restrictions on the use of Segways in historic parts of the capital and areas with a high concentration of pedestrians are intended to protect the health and safety of pedestrians, although the Segway Association argued that collisions between Segway users and pedestrians rarely occur.

11:45 Car production fell by 2.9% in November

Car manufacturers in the Czech Republic produced a total of 1.024 million passenger cars until the end of November this year, a 2.9% decrease year-on-year. The reason for the fall in production was a serious supply shortage of vital semiconductor chips necessary for the completion of vehicles. Production exceeded the million mark a full two months later than in pre-pandemic times; but in November, production increased as manufacturers played catch-up following an improvement in the supply of chips. Electric cars currently account for 11% of Czech car production. The latest data was supplied by the Association of the Automotive Industry.

Politics Zeman supports Babiš for president

Czech President Miloš Zeman said he thinks former prime minister Andrej Babiš would be a good candidate for president in 2023. Zeman made the comments in a discussion with CNN Prima News, adding that he regards the results achieved by Babiš’s ANO government highly.

Zeman did, however, criticize Babiš for not fighting to hold on to power after the results of the October election. The President said that he was willing to stand by his promise and give Babiš the first and second attempt to form a government as the leader of the largest individual political party. Zeman said Babiš’s refusal to try to form a new government took him by surprise, but that he now perceives Babiš as a promising candidate for president instead.

Business Moneta shareholders to decide on Air Bank merger

A general meeting of Moneta Money Bank is taking place today to decide on the company’s planned merger with the Air Bank Group, owned by the PPF Group. In November, Moneta and PPF announced the agreement of a new model for financing the merger, which was approved by Moneta shareholders in June.

The complex new financing model would see Moneta pay CZK 25.9 billion for Air Bank, with the transaction to be financed by the issuing of new Moneta shares. PPF, as Moneta’s current largest shareholder with 29.94% of shares, would then take over more of the joint company, resulting in the third largest banking group on the Czech market after Česká spořitelna and ČSOB.

Legal Czech Constitutional Court to rule on Segway dispute

The Czech Constitutional Court will rule today on a complaint from the Segway Association of the Czech Republic. The association is attempting to fight restrictions on Segway vehicles in Prague, after the city adopted regulations on their use in protected areas and other locations with a high concentration of pedestrians in 2016.

The Segway Association previously failed with a lawsuit taken to the Municipal Court in Prague and subsequently with the Supreme Administrative Court. Yet they continue to argue that Segways are not dangerous and that crashes with pedestrians do not occur. The constitutional complaint currently being evaluated claims restrictions on Segways are discriminatory and incomprehensible. 

Prague Tow truck wreaks havoc at Wenceslas Square market

A tow truck sent to remove a badly parked car on Wenceslas Square succeeded in tearing out a cable that supplies electricity to the markets operating on the square, leaving the stands without power and unable to sell. It also damaged railing on the balcony of the Palác Fénix building, which fell onto a passing man’s leg and resulted in the ambulance being sent to the scene.

Police are investigating the damage to the cable and the damage to the balcony as damage to another’s property. Traders were left disgruntled on Sunday night as they waited for power to be restored. Government regulations ban the operation of Christmas marks, but they are taking place on Wenceslas Square as a “cultural event.”

Economy Czech Republic touted as Bitcoin leader in 2022

An analysis of the outlook for cryptocurrencies has named the Czech Republic as one of the likely global leaders in the development of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the 2022. The Czech Republic was mentioned third in line after the United States and the United Kingdom for interest in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin was described as a “rising star” in the Czech Republic, with cryptocurrency transactions increasingly massively of late in the country. Czech downloads of the free Bitcoin-QT desktop wallet are now passing records set in the U.S.A. Other countries mentioned as centers of crypto developments are Slovenia and the Netherlands.

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