Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 37th

Saturday, 11th of September

Exports increased
Lithuania's exports grew by 16.8 percent in the first seven months of 2004, compared with the same period in 2003, while imports rose by 15.9 percent. Exports totalled LTL 13.677 billion, whereas imports reached LTL 18.759 billion in the seven-month period.
The country's foreign trade deficit widened by 13.7 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 5.082 billion.
"The good news is that exports are growing at a faster rate than imports. This positive trend is likely to continue toward the end of this year and early next year," Vadimas Titarenko, advisor to the president of Nord/LB Lietuva, the country's third-biggest commercial bank by assets, said. Respublika

Exports of Dvarcioniu Keramika down
Dvarcioniu Keramika, the leading manufacturer of ceramic tiles in the Baltics, reported sales of LTL 29.5 million for the first eight months of 2004, a decline of 7.6 percent from the year earlier figure. Meanwhile, sales on domestic market surged by 21.4 percent, to LTL 16.45 million in the reporting period. The total sales figure declined on the back of re-orientation of exports markets. The sales in Lithuania, however, were driven higher by an updated range of products, flexible pricing and marketing efforts.
The company, which focused its exports drive on Western European countries, including Germany, UK and Scandinavian states, raised the sales on those markets successfully.
Consolidated audited losses of Dvarcioniu Keramika came in at LTL 6.914 million under International Accounting Standards last year. In 2002, net earnings of tile producer totalled LTL 246,800.
Lietuvos Zinios

New equipment In Vilniaus Baldai
Vilniaus Baldai, one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in Lithuania, has purchased production equipment from a bankrupt English factory and expects to increase its production capacity by 40 percent after shipping the equipment to Lithuania. The entire project is valued at LTL 10 million. The company will begin to use the new equipment in February 2005. Vilniaus Baldai sold LTL 63.24 million worth of production during the first eight months of this year, a 10.1 percent increase year-on-year. In August alone, Vilniaus Baldai sold LTL 9.317 million worth of production, a year-on-year increase of 15.8 percent.
Lietuvos Rytas

Friday, 10th of September

Quality insurance service network to be created
Poland's largest insurance company Powszechny Zaklad Ubezpieczen (PZU expects to finalise by the end of 2004 the merger of two Lithuanian insurance firms it purchased in spring of 2004 with two firms in Lindra group, which is under PZU control too. The new name of the entity to emerge after the merger will be known only in October, representatives of the Polish insurer told during a news conference in Kaunas on Thursday. PZU intends to step up its positions in Lithuania. In next five years, PZU expects to win 25 percent of the Lithuania's insurance market, raise its operational effectiveness and build the best representative office here.
The model of a representative office of the company created in Lithuania will later be applied in other countries. Moreover, the company is to new products to Lithuanians, which have already won popularity in the rest of Europe.
In terms of premiums collected by 24 domestic non-life insurance companies during the first six months, four companies within the PZU (Lindra, Lindra - Gyvybes Draudimas, NORD/LB Draudimas, and NORD/LB Gyvybes Draudimas) controlled 16.7 percent of the market. PZU remains in second place after Lietuvos Draudimas, which controls 29.9 percent of the non-life insurance market.
Respublika, Kauno Diena

Results of Linas
Linas, the biggest linen textile manufacturer in the Baltics, reported sales of LTL 47.1 million for the first eight months of this year, up by 13 percent from the year earlier figure of LTL 41.8 million. The rise is the result of stronger demand in the linen products all over the world and high quality of output. In August, the company, which channels some 90 percent of its output for exports, reported sales of LTL 3.8 million, a decline of 16 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 4.5 million. Last month, Linas shipped 42.6 percent of its total output to Sweden and 9.4 percent to the US, whereas the total exports to the EU countries, including Sweden, accounted for 72.6 percent of total produce.
Lietuvos Zinios

Sampo to issues chip card
Sampo bank has announced having joined the system of Visa International. It is the sixth Lithuanian commercial banks that joined the ranks of Visa members. The institution indicated that next year it would issue Visa Electron and Visa chip cards in the country.
Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Thursday, 9th of September

Snaige expand exports
Lithuania’s refrigerator producer Snaige hopes to begin supplying refrigerators to Russia's largest household appliance chain Eldorado early next year and to sign a contract with Poland's household appliance chain Avans by the end of this year.
Snaige, the only refrigerator manufacturer in the Baltics, said it sent its first batch of refrigerators to Avans on Wednesday.
Snaige wants to get its products into Russia's Eldorado chain through the Ukrainian chain operating under the same name. It has been working with Ukraine's Eldorado since the summer of this year.
Snaige's chief executive added that the Russians' decision should be known at the end of this year. Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Sonex Holding storms Moscow
Sonex Holding, the leading Baltic IT group, established a subsidiary in Moscow in early September. The new company will offer IT infrastructure products and services for local enterprises and Baltic companies eager to expand onto Russia's market.
The establishment of subsidiary in Moscow was in line with strategic expansion plans of Sonex Holding for Russia's market, said Arunas Bartusevicius, Sonex Holding chairman. The subsidiary is expected to employ a workforce of 25 by year-end.
The core objective of the subsidiary for 2004 was to mould the staff of professionals proficient in particulars of local market and transfer of experience of Sonex Holding in the manufacturing of PCs and provision of infrastructure services to Moscow.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Achiever of reform
The World Bank (WB) announced its latest review of world economies, in which Lithuania was mentioned among the first ten most successful reformers and top 20 economies in the world on ease of doing business. The report places Lithuania 17th on the list of the top 20 economies in the world on ease of doing business. Lithuania 's ranking is the highest among all the 10 countries that joined the EU in May.
Lithuania is also among the top ten reformers of investment climate in the world for the past year, according to the report entitled "Doing Business in 2005: Removing Obstacles to Growth."
Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 8th of September

Mobile penetration rate nears 80 percent in Lithuania
The total number of mobile telephone subscribers in Lithuania rose by 9.8 percent during the second quarter of 2004 to reach 2.75 million, the country's Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has said. According to the report of CRA, Lithuania's mobile penetration rate has reached 79.8 percent of the population.
The ranking of top Lithuania's wireless operators remained unchanged in the second quarter of 2004, as Omnitel was the first on the market both in terms of revenues and subscribers. Bite was the second by revenues, while Tele2 ranked the second in terms of subscribers' numbers.
Omnitel accounted for 54.64 percent of total wireless revenues of LTL 273.77 million. Revenues by Bite GSM comprised 24.95 percent, Tele2 - 18.8 percent of the total. Omnitel reported LTL 394 million in revenues for the first half of 2004. Bite announced the revenues of LTL 191.9 million, whereas Tele2 does not publish its performance results.
Respublika

Vilnius International Airport to build a new terminal
Vilnius International Airport has launched the design stage of new LTL 50 million project on the construction of terminal designated for citizens of non-Schengen countries. The new terminal, which should be commissioned in fall 2006, will be designated for the so-called external flights, while the current terminal will focus on internal flights. Some funding for the construction of new terminal was expected to be earmarked by funds of Schengen countries, he added.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Exports grow Sanitas
Sanitas, the largest Lithuania's pharmaceutical producer, reported LTL 27.806 million in sales for the January-to-August period, a rise of 37 percent from the year-earlier figure. Sales to Latvia's Grindex accounted for 73.6 percent of total eight-month sales figure.
Exports of Kaunas-based company soared by 40 percent, to LTL 21.696 million, whereas sales to Grindex surged by 58 percent, to LTL 20.467 million in the January-to-August period.
Sanitas reported sales of LTL 20.276 million for the first eight months of 2003, and the sales of LTL 2.263 million for August alone.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 7th of September

Beer market increased by 0.23 percent
Lithuania's beer market grew by 0.23 percent to 167.65 million litres in the first eight months of 2004, compared with the same period last year. In August, the country's nine major breweries, which are members of the Lithuanian Brewers' Association, sold 2.738 million decilitres of beer, a rise of 12 percent since the same month in 2003.
Verslo Zinios

Mazeikiu Nafta boosts its profit
With soaring oil refining margins, the Lithuanian oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta (MN) significantly improved profits in the first half of 2004. The Butinge Oil Terminal and the Birzai Oil Pipeline had lower incomes, though. MN reported that its six-month profit before interest, depreciation, taxes, and amortisation (EBIDTA) rocketed almost 86 percent year-on-year to LTL 349 million. Sales rose nearly 40 percent to 3.6 million tons, including deliveries of 2.2 million tons to countries in Western Europe.
MN indicated in its report for the first half of the year that the theoretical oil-refining margin grew 21.1 percent to USD 84.1 a ton. The higher margin thus helped the company to boost net profits 3.1 times to LTL 232 million.
MN’s half-year consolidated income advanced 38.8 percent to LTL 3.05 billion.
Verslo Zinios

Zara stores in the Baltics
Apranga, Lithuania's leading clothing retailer, has set up separate subsidiary companies to operate Zara stores in each of the three Baltic countries.
Apranga LT will operate the Zara store in Vilnius, set to be opened in November. Apranga LV and Apranga Estonia operate the stores in Latvia and Estonia, respectively, which were opened in the summer. Financial results of the new companies would be incorporated into the group's consolidated financial data.
Lietuvos Zinios

Monday, 6th of September

Losses of Zemaitijos Pienas
Zemaitijos Pienas, the third largest dairy in Lithuania, suffered LTL 2.28 million worth of losses from its core operations during the first half of this year. The company, though, indicated that its total half-year net profit surged 2.3 times year-on-year to LTL 6.15 million. The company announces that the growing milk purchase prices predetermined the losses this year.
The dairy had six-month sales of LTL 137.31, a rise of 16.7 percent from the year before, according to preliminary figures.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Turnover of Silutes Baldai declined
Lithuania’s desk and kitchen furniture producer Silutes Baldai reached the turnover of LTL 44.98 million in the eight months of this year, a decline of 7.5 percent since the January-to-August period of 2003. The company expects to sell production at LTL 7 million in September. The furniture maker does not expect to fulfil the targeted sales for 2004; however, it forecast higher turnover than in 2003. Verslo Zinios

Agreement on frequences
Lithuania reached an agreement with Russia, Latvia, Belarus and Poland concerning the third-generation (3G) UMTS frequencies at international talks held in Nida on August 23-27. Communications Regulatory Authority is expected to issue fifteen-year permits for the supply of 3G services by the end of 2004. The licensees shall launch the services within two years from the date the permit is granted. UMTS services in Lithuania would probably be offered by Omnitel, the largest country's wireless operator. Rivalling operators Bite GSM and Tele2 had also expressed interest in possibilities to provide the services.
Lietuvos Rytas

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