Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 38th

Saturday, 18th of September

Lithuanian insures are optimistic
The domestic insurance market will grow about 20 percent this year and 22-25 percent next year. The volumes of mandatory car insurance may go up as much as 25-30 percent next year, Darius Gudaciauskas, director of the sales department of Lietuvos Draudimas, predicted on Friday.
The representative of the leading insurer in the country noted that after Lithuania's entry into the EU, insurance prices stabilised and even went down a little, thus contradicting forecasts that they would increase.
Compared to the prices for mandatory car insurance in the first half of 2003, average premiums decreased 14.6 percent in 2004 from LTL 125 to LTL 106. Average premiums for transport insurance also went down 7.3 percent in the first half this year from LTL 2,006 to LTL 1,860 despite the fast growth in the amount of automobiles purchased. Regardless of the fact that prices for asset reinsurance nearly doubled in the world market in the past two years, average asset insurance premiums in Lithuania rose only 14 percent. According to the forecasts of experts from Lietuvos Draudimas, insurance prices should stay favourable in 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios

Construction strengthens Akmenes Cementas
Akmenes Cementas, Lithuania's only cement manufacturer, posted sales revenues of LTL 70 million for the first eight months of this year, a rise of 24 percent from revenues of LTL 56.4 million in the same period a year ago.
"The revenue growth was largely due to expansion in the domestic construction market," Virginija Berezniak, the company's chief accountant, said.
The cement manufacturer, which controls 75 percent of the domestic market and sells 65 percent of the production in the country, is targeting a 12 percent growth in full-year revenues, to LTL 99.5 million.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Welsh eyeing on Lithuanian textile
Some clothing manufacturers in North Wales, in the United Kingdom, intend to move part of their production to Lithuania to cut operating costs. This decision follows a visit by Huw Williams of the Welsh Clothing and Textile Association (WCTA) to an international trade fair, the Baltic Textile & Leather, in Vilnius. Williams said Lithuanian enterprises would produce overalls and pyjamas for companies in North Wales. Local companies will also supply fabrics and leather to Welsh companies.
The Lithuanian clothing and textile industry employs around 51,700 people, of which 80 percent are women.
Lithuania's textile and clothing exports fell by 1 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 1.8 billion in the first seven months of this year. The decline was largely due to problems at Alytaus Tekstile, Lithuania's ailing cotton fabric producer.
Lietuvos Rytas

Friday, 17th of September

Sanitas profit increases
Sanitas, Lithuania's biggest pharmaceutical producer, has reported a net profit of LTL 4.132 million on sales of LTL 27.807 million for the first eight months of 2004. Sanitas said it made a net profit of LTL 634,000 in August alone, as its monthly sales surged by 52 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 3.426 million.
Sanitas, which sells most of its products to Latvia's Grindex, has plans to build a new, modern plant. The company is currently upgrading its existing production facilities to comply with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Retail trade soared by 10.2 percent
Lithuania's retail sales rose by 10.2 percent in the first seven months of 2004, year-on-year, driven higher by strong growth in sales of household appliances, construction materials and clothes, the Statistics Department has reported. Retail sales grew by 3.7 percent in July compared with June.
The aggregate turnover of retail stores, car service centres, filling stations, restaurants and other retailers reached LTL 10.798 billion during the seven months. Lithuania's retail sales totalled LTL 17.641 billion in 2003, a rise of 14.3 percent over 2002.
Retail trade volumes, excluding motor vehicles, grew 12.4 percent in the first seven months of 2004, while monthly trade in July edged up 6.7 percent.
Seven-month sales of motor vehicles, fuel, and vehicle service and repair mounted 6.4 percent, with respective sales in July slumping 9.5 percent, versus the same month of the preceding year.
Retailers of foodstuff posted a weak growth of 0.2 percent, but other retailers had 15.2 percent larger sales during the first seven months of 2004. The growth of textile, clothes and footwear sales constituted 25.5 percent from the beginning of this year. The increase in sales during July, against the corresponding month of 2003, stood at 33.6 percent.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Vilniaus Vingis to seek EU aid
Lithuanian deflection yoke producer Vilniaus Vingis has said it is preparing three modernisation projects. The company indicated that it counted on assistance from European Union structural funds. Vilniaus Vingis expects to get half of the LTL 11.1 million worth budget of the project from the EU. Apart from renovation of the energy system, the company is set to expand the tool unit and upgrade the galvanic unit. The project is to be set into motion this year.
The company is to invest LTL 3.5 million into the tool unit, LTL 5.5 million in the energy system, and LTL 2.1 million into the galvanic unit.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 16th of September

The first semi-automatic terminal in the Baltic States
Baltic Logistic System Vilnius, the provider of Bizpak, a small parcel delivery service, has opened a semi-automatic parcel sorting terminal in Vilnius, the first one in the Baltic countries. The investments into the terminal added up to more than LTL 5 million.
The terminal of 3,000m2 can sort and distribute more than 2,000 parcels and 70 pallets at a time. It is forecasted that in two coming years, the Lithuanian market of small parcels will grow about 10-15 percent, and the market of international parcels will rise 30 to 40 percent a year.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Snaige increases profit forecasts
Snaige, the only company producing refrigerators in the Baltics, has downgraded its the sales forecast for 2004. By the end of this year, the company expects its sales to reach LTL 300 million, an annual increase of 7.7 percent, but 1.3 percent lower than earlier planned. The forecast for non-consolidated pre-tax profit for this year was however raised from LTL 25.4 to LTL 34 million. Snaige made the adjustments to its 2004 forecast on Tuesday and released the information through the Vilnius Stock Exchange.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Half of new cars purchased by leasing
55 percent of cars in Lithuania are purchased by leasing, and most of the deals have been financed by companies in the Hansabank group. The total number of cars sold in Lithuania from January through August increased 23.9 percent year-on-year and stood at 8,189, of which 4,467 were purchased through leasing deals.
The companies operating under the Hansabankas group, Hanza Lizingas and Baltijos Autolizingas, financed the acquisition of 1,783 new cars, 39.9 percent of the total number of automobiles bought by leasing.
Andrius Cibiras, head of the passenger car unit of Hanza Lizingas, says the mentality of local buyers with regard to automobiles has been changing significantly. Lithuanians have begun to calculate road maintenance costs and fuel expenses. This is why they now prefer buying new cars. Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Wednesday, 15th of September

Levuo in the target of MG Baltic
MG Baltic Investment, a subsidiary of MG Baltic, has reached an agreement with the Panevezys-based clothing and gift retailer Levuo, which controls the retail chains Imitz and Dorado, to purchase 37.8 percent of its shares.
MG Baltic Investment will buy the shares for an undisclosed sum before the end of October this year, the company reports. The authorized capital of Levuo is LTL 15.6 million. MG Baltic Investment will strive to increase its stake in the company in the future. The expansion of Levuo's retail chain will require substantial investments, thus MG Baltic Investment will vote against paying dividend in the next few years.
Sales of Levuo came in at LTL 21.3 million during the first half of this year, a rise of 30 percent year-on-year.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Ginatrinis Amzius to cooperate with Malsena
Malsena, the largest flour manufacturer in the Baltics, has purchased a 50 percent equity stake in Gintarinis Amzius, one of Lithuania's biggest pasta producers.
Giedrius Barysas and Rasa Streliene have each sold 25 percent of shares in Gintarinis Amzius to Malsena and each retain 25 percent stakes in the pasta production company. Gintarinis Amzius has taken over Malsena's pasta production line in Panevezys, in central Lithuania, and expects to put it into operation in about a month's time.
Until now, Gintarinis Amzius has had a 25 percent share of the Lithuanian pasta production market. The new production line will help it boost its monthly output to 1,500 tons of pasta, up from the current 250 tons.
Gintarinis Amzius is investing around LTL 8 million in its production facility in Panevezys in the first stage of the project.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Alternative telecommunication providers expect to lure more clients from telecom
Alternative fixed line and mobile service providers expect to raise their combined market share in Lithuania to around 20 percent by the end of 2005 in terms of user number. According to the data of Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), the number of fixed lines in Lithuania was 822,000 at the end of June and the dominating position in the market belonged to Lietuvos Telekomas (LT). Alternative service providers had only 26,400 clients, accounting for 3.7 percent of the total number of subscribers. The Telecommunication Service Providers’ Association (TSPA) presented its forecasts at a news conference on Tuesday.
Arunas Babrauskas, president of TSPA, said that alternative telecommunication providers offer more services per one client and that will be one of the reasons predetermining the market share decline of the biggest Lithuanian telecommunication service providers. He admitted that alternative fixed line service providers earn mainly from international calls and some part of revenues come from long-distance calls.
According to the president of the association, international call price in the fixed line network declined 5-fold since 2003. However, the situation is different with mobile telecommunication service providers since they seek to limit activities of telecommunication service providers in their network, said Babrauskas.
Set up in June, the TSPA now groups together six Lithuanian telecommunication service providers – Eurocom, Mediafon, Linteklis, Apline, Telekomunicaiju Grupe, Nelte - which hold an 80 percent share of the domestic alternative telecommunication service market.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Tuesday, 14th of September

Winemakers feel shortage of apples
Lithuania's two biggest wine producers, Alita and Anyksciu Vynas, consider stopping processing apples this year and, instead, importing concentrated juice that is needed for the production of cider and wine from Western countries. Apple processing products account for between 10 and 15 percent of annual sales of the two companies, which are controlled by the same shareholders.
Anyksciu Vynas has processed around 1,000 tons of apples this year, compared with the usual volume of 15,000 to 20,000 tons in earlier years. Alita has not started processing apples from this year's crop at all.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Popularity of beer in PET bottles increases
Based on data obtained from the Lithuanian Association of Brewers, during the first eight months of this year, nine members of the association marketed 9.025 million dekalitres of beer in glass packaging, up 1.3 percent against the same period of 2003. Sales of beer in glass bottles numbered 51.61 percent of total beer sales this year, since 53.2 percent last year. The sales growth of beer in PET packages was however significantly higher: the respective turnover of beer advanced 18 percent to 5.734 million dekalitres. The sales during the first eight months of this year accounted for 32.79 percent of total, compared to last year's 29 percent.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus has increased the turnover of beer in PET bottles 2.1-fold up to LTL 1.627 million dekalitres. Kalnapilis-Tauras group has raised its turnover of beer in PET containers by 17.1 percent in the eight-month period to 1.555 million dekalitres, while Ragutis’ turnover of beer in plastic bottles soared by 34.2 percent to 663,000 dekalitres.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

New assembly line in Ekranas
Ekranas, one of Europe's leading colour picture tube manufacturers, has reported sales of LTL 328 million for the first eight months of 2004, a rise of 28.7 percent year-on-year. However, Ekranas' sales for August fell by 28.6 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 26.4 million. Angelija Zokaitiene, head of the company's Investor and Public Relations Department, said that the plant operated at reduced capacity for three weeks in August due to summer vacations. Ekranas is planning to launch a fourth TV tube assembly line on September 22, which will help it increase its monthly capacity to around 400,000 units. The plant produced 3.1 million units during the first eight months. The annual production output of the TV tube plant in Panevezys, in central Lithuania, is expected to reach 4.5 million to 5.1 million units.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Monday, 13th of September

Sales of Utenos Trikotazas grew
Lithuania's clothing group Utenos Trikotazas has reported sales of LTL 120.7 million for the first eight months of 2004, a rise of 1.6 percent from sales of LTL 118.8 million in the same period a year ago. Utenos Trikotazas, the country's largest knitwear producer, alone posted a 5.4 percent year-on-year increase in sales, to LTL 91.8 million, in the reporting period.
"The sales growth was due to rising exports to the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. The company's exports have reached LTL 83.8 million this year, six percent higher than in the same period last year," said Nerijus Datkunas, Utenos Trikotazas' finance director.
In August, Utenos Trikotazas' monthly sales dropped by 3.8 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 10.9 million.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Investments of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai
Lithuania's national railway company Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has completed a 56-million-litas project that installed a state-of-the-art computerized traffic control system in 11 railway stations. The state railway operator said in a statement that the new system, which complies with the European standards, has enabled it to improve safety and increase speed of trains on railway lines along two international transport corridors, from Kaisiadorys, in central Lithuania, and Radviliskis, in the northern part of the country. The new system has also helped the company to cut traffic management costs. The project, implemented in cooperation with Austria's Bombardier Transportation, took almost four years to complete.
Lietuvos Zinios

Alytaus Tekstile sells equipment
Alytaus Tekstile, the largest textile company in Lithuania, expects to sell some production equipment worth almost LTL 2 million. The company's shareholders agreed to sell the equipment and mortgage the textile company's assets for loans of Vilnius Bankas and Snoras bank, the contracts of which were renewed, during the shareholders’ meeting. The company will also mortgage company assets worth 14 percent of its authorized capital to extend the deadline for the repayment of the loan from Snoras bank.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

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