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Court Bans Trading of HPH Shares

A Prague court has banned the transfer of Harvardsky Prumyslovy Holding (HPH) shares at the Central Securities Registry (SCP), HPH announced on its website.

The verdict comes shortly after the Securities Commission (KCP) lifted a ban on transfers of HPH shares in June.

“The court’s decision will help HPH management and shareholders because it will prevent attempts by the firm's founder, Viktor Kozeny, to regain control over HPH,” board chairman Karel Stanek told the CTK news agency, adding that there were indications he had been preparing to do so.

Over 143,000 HPH shares have changed hands at the SCP since June, with prices ranging from zero to CZK 300 apiece.

The KCP banned the trading of HPH shares for the first time three years ago due to uncertainty over HPH's property as well as the firm's financial situation.

HPH emerged from the Harvardske investicni fondy (HIF) of Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny. Kozeny promised his 240,000 clients a CZK 600 per share return on their investment. Instead, his management transferred HIF's assets to HPH, which was subsequently sent to liquidation. The liquidation has been accompanied by a series of court disputes. Kozeny won a public tender for HPH's assets in 1997. Only one-third of HPH shareholders have received promised payments so far.

Kozeny, who lives in the Bahamas, is wanted on fraud charges in both the US and the Czech Republic.

(Interfax 13.viii.04)

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