Final Word from Friday, October 18, 2002





As expected, the supervisory board of Česká konsolidační agentura (ČKA) gave an exclusivity yesterday to Appian Group for negotiating to buy 48% of Škoda Holding. Škoda is nearly bankrupt and is a major symbol of both Communist-era Czechoslovak industry and Klaus' crony capitalism of the 1990s. A good, clean privatization would be a real boost to the CR. Instead, JP Morgan has walked out as ČKA's adviser (to be replaced, we are told, by Slavia Capital of Slovakia), the unions are complaining about selling to speculators (part of Appian's plan apparently calls for a shopping center on prime Škoda land), and Euro has pointed to Appian's close ties to Vladimír Špidla. Appian might indeed be Škoda's best hope for survival, but the circumstances surrounding the sale suggest that the Špidla cabinet is still stuck in the 1990s on this one.

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