Final Word from Thursday, March 12, 2015

Czechs might be members of the EU, but they have come to accept that their richest businessmen act instead like Russian-style criminals and that the EU plans to do nothing about it. If some of these criminals by chance wanted to take over a major listed Czech company, they would employ extortion, bribery and regulatory finesse to run off the foreign owner. Then they would announce a decision to borrow a pile of cash from the company, thereby driving down the value of remaining shares. A plan to spin off most of the assets into an opaque unlisted entity would be the coup de grâce. Because only they knew the asset valuations, they would use secret investment vehicles to scoop up shares on the open market when the price was lowest. Critics would be swatted down with the words, "You don't know how the capital markets operate." After living with the "socialist reality and the Communist future" for many years, Czechs are now living with the capitalist reality and hoping that somewhere on the horizon there is a less-Russian future in sight. [Czech Republic European Union raiders raiding]

Glossary of difficult words

listed company - a company that is quoted on a stock exchange;

finesse - subtle or delicate manipulation;

to spin off - to transfer part of a company's assets into a new company;

opaque - not transparent;

unlisted company - a company that is not quoted on a stock exchange;

coup de grace - a final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal;

to swat (down) - to hit or crush something (esp. an insect) with a sharp blow from a flat object.

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