Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 19th

Saturday, 8th of May

Gas price for consumers will reduce
On Friday, the National Control Commission for Prices and Energy slashed the ceiling prices for natural gas applied by Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), the gas import, transportation and distribution complex. The prices will be in effect from July 1 by June 30, 2005.
The ceiling price for the transportation of natural gas declined by 7 percent on average. The distribution tariff slipped by 2 percent, while the prices of imported natural gas plunged by 10 percent.
With the commission ruling coming into effect, Lietuvos Dujos shall come up with specific prices of natural gas and submit thereof to the commission for review. The new rates shall be published with at least a month left before the new prices coming into effect.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios

10 percent of farmers will renounce farming
It is forecasted that some 30,000 elderly Lithuanian farmers will cease commercial agriculture and will choose compensations in 2004-2006. The Ministry of Agriculture reports that it is planned to pay LTL 475 million compensations to such farmers.
Relying on the data of the Agricultural and Countryside Business Register, there are 250,000 land users in Lithuania at present.
The farmers who would cease commercial agriculture will receive subsidies for 15 years but only until they reach 75 years of age.
Lietuvos Zinios

Lithuanians do not rush to accumulate pensions
Some 38,750 people opted to join Lithuania's new private pension scheme during the first four months of this year. A total of 441,610 contracts were signed during the first phase of the scheme that ended on December 1, 2003. This means that 36.6 percent of the country's working population opted for a private pension.
Eligible people who did not join the scheme last year can do so until July 1 of this year.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Friday, 7th of May

Milk processors post profit
The biggest Lithuanian milk processing companies have boosted profit this year due to lower milk buying-up prices.
Pieno Zvaigzdes group of milk processing companies posted the highest profit of LTL3.969 million for the first quarter of 2004.
Lithuania’s largest cheese production company Rokiskio Suris posted LTL 2.1 million consolidated net profit in the first quarter of this year, a 6-fold rise since the relevant period last year.
The third largest group of Lithuanian milk processing companies Zemaitijos Pienas collected LTL 54.579 million revenues in the first quarter of this year, a 3.2 percent rise year-on-year.
Verslo Zinios

Changes in Silute alcohol plant
A Silute-based factory has launched the uninterrupted production of bio-ethanol, an organic fuel additive.
Stumbras, Lithuania's largest producer of strong drinks and a part of the concern MG Baltic, is the official owner of the plant in Silute but the plant will soon be split from Stumbras. The bio-ethanol is to be sold through LUKoil Baltija filling stations, although the plant has also been in talks with Statoil, Mazeikiu Nafta, and potential partners in other countries.
LTL 8 million have already been invested in the bio-ethanol project of Silute; the investments might be raised to LTL 25 million in future. The plant will not produce spirit anymore.
Silute-based plant started producing bio-ethanol in the beginning of this year. The plant’s output stands at 24 tons per 24 hours. Presumably, it will double by the end of the year.
Pursuant the law, bio-fuel must constitute no less than 2 percent of all the transport fuel available in the market by the end of the coming year and no less than 5.75 percent by 2010.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Drogas expands in Lithuania
Drogas, Latvia's equity chain of stores selling cosmetics, toiletries and household appliances, pursues further expansion of its chain of stores in Lithuania.
In May, Drogas is to open three stores in Utena, Panevezys and Vilnius. At the end of May, the chain will control 24 stores in Lithuania. It plans to open 10 new stores by the end of this year. Investments into the expansion of Drogas chain are expected to reach LTL 3.5 million. The chain, which started operating in Lithuania in late 2001, has already invested LTL 10 million.
In 2003 the turnover of the chain surged nearly 3-fold, to LTL 22 million. This year the chain sees its sales rising to LTL 40 million.
Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 6th of May

Cafes and restaurants will join traders’ revolt
The Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants is considering a possibility to introduce passport control in cafes and restaurants. Due to the amendments to the Alcohol and Tobacco Control Laws enacted by the Seimas, buyers of tobacco and alcohol products in bars and cafes might be asked to show their passports, regardless of their age.
The trade chains of Lithuania have already started checking passports of alcohol and tobacco buyers.
Evalda Siskauskiene, president of the association, says pursuant to the law, if a café of restaurant sells tobacco or alcohol products to persons under 18 years of age for the second time, it will be deprived of the licence of trade in these products. This equals ruination of a public catering institution because no café or restaurant could survive without alcohol trade.
Yesterday, two proposals to amend the amendments to the Alcohol and Tobacco Control Law were registered in the Seimas. Both proposals include bigger financial penalties for companies that sell tobacco or alcohol products to the minors but they enable traders to retain licences.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Brewers took advantage of EU accession festival
In April, beer sales increased by 25 percent compared to March. In April 2003, nine companies that belong to the Lithuanian Brewers’ Association sold 20.33 million litres of beer, while in April 2004 22.72 million litres of beer were sold.
Audrius Vidzys, president of the Lithuanian Brewers’ Association, claims that the sales growth has been preconditioned by Lithuania’s accession to the European Union and warmer weather. Besides, some breweries launched active advertising campaigns in April already, while others plan to start promotion campaigns in May.
Traditionally, Svyturys-Utenos Alus sold the biggest amount of beer in April (10.58 million litres); it was followed by Kalnapilis-Tauras group with the sales of 5.23 million litres. The two breweries controlled the biggest share of the beer market: 46.57 percent and 23.02 percent respectively.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios

Higher capacity laptops
Sonex Kompiuteriai (SK), the largest computer manufacturer in the Baltic countries, has started testing Vector laptops equipped with the new generation mobile Intel processors in its Kaunas-based factory.
According to the press release of the company, the new computers are manufactured based on 90 nanometer processor manufacturing technology.
Jevgenij Kutepov, head of SK laboratory, says the first test results have revealed that laptop efficiency has increased significantly.
Kauno Diena, Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 5th of May

Budget surpassed prognoses
The Lithuanian central government collected LTL 3.135 billion in budget revenues in the first four months of this year, exceeding its target by 2.2 percent, the Finance Ministry reports.
In April budget revenues came in 2.7 percent above the target and reached LTL 879.8 million.
EU assistance funds, which are included in Lithuania's budget this year, amounted to LTL 163.8 million during the four months.
Verslo Zinios

Profit of Hansabankas increased by a third
Hansabankas posted LTL 25.1 million net non-audited profit for the first quarter of this year, LTL 6.4 million rise year-on-year (LTL 18.7 million). Consolidated possession of the bank’s shareholders increased by 37 percent over a year and amounted to LTL 484.9 million.
This year, the consolidated profit of Hansabankas before the previsions stood at LTL 25.1 million, an 88.4 percent rise since the relevant period last year. Giedrius Dusevicius, board chairman of Hansabankas, believes that growth has been preconditioned by demand of financial services.
Verslo Zinios

Svyturys brewers aim at collectors
Klaipeda-based brewery Svyturys has presented a new beer brand Jubiliejinis 1784 (Anniversary 1784) dedicated to the 220th anniversary of the company. This highest quality beer has been created based on the so-called Krauzen technology.
Svyturys brewers have already produced the first consignment of festive beer, which consists of 220,000 bottles marked with unique numbers. The first numbered bottles of Jubiliejinis beer were awarded to Klaipeda mayor Rimantas Taraskevicius and the captain of Klaipeda State Seaport Viktoras Lukosevicius on Tuesday.
The first consignment of the new beer should be launched in the stores in the nearest future. Svyturys brewers claim that the new beer has been created for the users of fine taste.
Lietuvos Rytas

Bite’s revenues grow
Lithuania's wireless operator Bite GSM, controlled by Denmark's TDC, raised sales by 5.4 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 91.7 million in the first three months of 2004.
Market players associated slow rise in revenues with the fact that the vague growth of Bite's subscriber base sped up only in the first quarter of this year, with the company launching the lower tariff campaign Labas.
According to the data published by Lithuania's Communications Regulatory Authority, Omnitel controlled 48.5 percent of the market in terms of subscribers. Tele2 had 27.3 percent of the market, followed by Bite with 23.4 percent and other providers with 0.8 percent of the market.
In terms of revenues on wireless services, Omnitel held 56.3 percent of domestic market in the second half of 2003. Bite had 25.4 percent, Tele2 - 17.2 percent and other operators - 1.1 percent of the market.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Tuesday, 4th of May

Shareholders approve of reorganisation of Zemaitijos Pienas
Shareholders of AB Zemaitijos Pienas (Zemaitija Milk), Lithuania’s third largest dairy producer, supported the company’s reorganization in a meeting on Saturday. The new shareholder of the dairy and one of its main competitors AB Rokiskio Suris abstained during the vote over the company’s reorganization but did not object to it.
Before the meeting, it was forecasted that Rokiskio Suris will not approve of the reorganization of Zemaitijos Pienas because the split dairies – Silutes Rambynas and Klaipedos Pienas – will be handed over to a newly established company Zemaitijos Pieno Investicija (Investment of Zemaitijos Pienas) after the reorganization.
Verslo Zinios

About Lithuania – with a glass of beer
The biggest producer and exporter of Lithuanian beer Svyturys-Utenos Alus sent special deliveries of Svyturio Ekstra beer to the ceremony in Brussels held on the occasion of the European Union’s expansion. Visitors of Lithuania’s exposition, diplomats and other officials were treated with Svyturys Ekstra beer in Brussels.
In Vienna, where admission of southern and central Europe’s states to the European Union was celebrated, Svyturio Ekstra was an official drink of the reception organised by the Lithuanian embassy.
Mindaugas Sestokas, marketing director of Svyturys-Utenos Alus, is glad that the acquaintance of EU citizens with Lithuania started from Svyturys beer. According to him, the first impression is the most important therefore he does not doubt that from now on, Lithuania will have the reputation of the best beer producer in Europe.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus was also one of the main sponsors of the ceremony organised in Vilnius to celebrate Lithuania’s accession to EU.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Nearly LTL 260 million from privatisation raised in a quarter
Lithuania raised almost LTL 259.8 million from privatization in the first four months of 2004.
The State Property Fund (SPF), the government's privatization agency, concluded 96 privatization deals, bringing LTL 181.6 million into the state's coffers. Municipal privatization bodies generated LTL 78.2 million in proceeds.
Further four blocks of shares were divested via the National Stock Exchange of Lithuania (NSEL) bringing in a total of LTL 182,800.
In April alone, 59 privatization transactions generated LTL 5.4 million in proceeds.
The sale of 34 percent in Lietuvos Dujos, the natural gas utility, to Russia's Gazprom for LTL 100 million earned the title of the biggest privatization transaction in the January-to-April period of this year.
Lithuania's total privatization proceeds reached LTL 910.4 million in 2003, up from LTL 348.7 million raised in 2002.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Monday, 3rd of May

We will continue growing if there are investments
The objective to attract direct foreign investments to Lithuania should become a priority of the country unless we risk losing the leader’s position in the continent. Finance analysts forecast that it will depend on businessmen and politics whether Lithuania will manage to maintain the current economy growth in 3-4 years.
Rimantas Rudzkis, chief analyst of NORD/LB Lietuva, says the prospects of the main economical sectors are good: the added value created by these sectors grows every year. For the agricultural sector, the growth of which is the smallest, the money of EU structural fund and improving export conditions will serve as an engine of growth.
Rudzkis forecasts that increasing domestic demand to be affected by a 10 percent annual growth of people’s revenues and growing crediting level will precondition economy growth in the upcoming several years. However, he stresses that if the current macroeconomic tendencies continue dominating in the country, the economy growth might slow down in future. The fact that causes particular concern is a decline of foreign direct investments. Even in the record year, 2002, when the green field investments in the Lithuanian economy amounted to LTL 2.66 billion, they were 4-5 times smaller than in Latvia, Estonia or Czech Republic and even 30 times smaller than in Ireland.
Verslo Zinios

Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai operated profitably
The state power grid operator Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai (Eastern Distribution Networks or RST) posted LTL 9.6 million pre-tax profit for the first quarter of this year, a 12.4 percent rise year-on-year.
Revenues from sale of company’s products and services increased 3.3 percent, to LTL 206.1 million, over the given period.
Arvydas Zakalskis, finance director of RST, says the company’s revenues and profit increased thanks to the bigger electricity sales and reduced prices of the purchased electricity.
In three months of this year, RST sold 972.8 million kWh electricity or 3.4 percent rise year-on-year.
The state controls 71.76 percent stake in RST, the German concern E.ON Energie has a 20.28 percent stake in the company, while other shareholders control 7.96 percent of the company’s shares.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Leasing grows more popular
The aggregate leasing portfolio of members of the Lithuanian Leasing Association reached LTL 2.934 billion at the end of March, rising by 8.8 percent since the start of the year.
The value of new contracts that were concluded by the leasing companies during the first quarter of 2004 totalled LTL 675.5 billion, a rise of 66.6 percent from the same period in 2003.
The association attributed the market expansion to a number of factors, including high corporate expectations and growing investments, and a rising demand for household and consumer goods. A fall in interest rates, due to a tight competition among leasing providers, has contributed to the market growth too.
VB Lizingas, the leasing subsidiary of Vilniaus Bankas, had the biggest share of the domestic leasing market, at 37.79 percent, it was followed closely by Hanza Lizingas with a 36.05 percent market share.
Other companies lagged far behind the two market leaders in terms of leasing portfolios.
Verslo Zinios

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