Czechs won't cash in on privatisation

The Czech government is unlikely to privatise the Budweiser Budvar brewery, according to Budvar UK.

Reacting to international press reports that ministers are to hold talks on selling off the brewery, Budvar UK chief executive Tony Jennings said: "The Budvar-to-be-privatised story has popped up every three or four years since 1989. It's a bit like having a grumbling appendix. Although in theory the Czech government could privatise the brewery - it is its own property after all - its present somewhat fragile state renders it more or less impotent to do anything."

He pointed out it is a coalition government with many internal divisions, and the Ministry of Agriculture says the brewery cannot be sold until its century-old trademark row with Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch is resolved.

He added: "There is a great deal of love and esteem for Budvar in the Republic as the last of the great Czech breweries on the international stage that haven't been colonised by foreign interests. All governments have to respect public opinion and a government as fragile as this certainly has to. Our opinion is that the appendix may go on grumbling, but it's not going to burst yet."

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek has told a Czech newspaper that privatisation is not "the issue of the day".