Problems for sale

Published on:

Want to buy a bank stacked full of bad loans and losing money? The Czech Republic may be able to oblige. While the second-largest, Ceska Sporitelna, looks like going to Austria's Erste Bank, the biggest, Komercni Banka, is still up for grabs. Finally, after years of dithering and excuses, bank privatization is now happening. But the assets are worth much less since the banks ran into serious trouble. Czech government problems don't stop there. Many companies the banks lent to are floundering, capital markets are still in their infancy and the legal framework falls short. The Czech Republic is a case study of how not to handle transition. Brian Caplen reports.