Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 49th 2004

Saturday, 4th of December

Jobless rate amounted to 5.8 percent in November
The unemployment rate in Lithuania dropped by 0.1 percentage point in November. On December 1, despite a large demand for workers, the unemployment rate in Lithuania was 5.8 percent. On December 1, the Lithuanian Labour Exchange recorded 121,800 unemployed people, 22.5 percent less than the number in December 2003.
The national labour office reported that the largest number of jobless people was in Akmene (15.2 percent), Druskininkai (14 percent), and the district of Mazeikiai (13.8 percent). The places with the fewest unemployed people were Elektrenai (1.7 percent), the district of Trakai (1.8 percent), and the city of Vilnius (2.9 percent).
Panevezys had the highest rate of unemployment (6.2 percent) in any city.
Since the beginning of the year, 117,400 people have found work through the Labour Exchange, and 123,900 job seekers have been referred to labour market programs.
Kauno Diena, Respublika

Alstom sets up office in Vilnius
Alstom, a leading global transport and power company with headquarters in France, opened an office in Vilnius this week.
The company expects to accelerate the development and strengthen positions in the Lithuanian market. The office in Vilnius will coordinate all of the activities of Alstom in Lithuania. The company also plans to expand its operations by strengthening its position within the local power and transport sectors.
At the present time, Alstom has some contracts for the Elektrenai Heating Plant and also supplies equipment to the Vilnius Heating Plant.
Lietuvos Rytas

Alita expects bigger profits
Alita, an alcohol producer that was privatised by the government at the beginning of this year, expects its profits for 2004 to be higher than profits in 2003.
"Profits are expected to be higher than last year's profits, but sales could fall because of a decrease in the sales of concentrated juice," Vytautas Junevicius said on Friday.
For 2004, Alita has previously projected annual sales of LTL 93 million and net profits of up to LTL 6 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 3rd of December

Turnover of TV maker declines
Siauliu Tauro Televizoriai, a Siauliai-based manufacturer of TV sets that has already sold more than 1 million units this year, has reduced its sales forecast for this year 20 percent to LTL 340 million. The original forecast was LTL 420 million and its estimated net profits were LTL 10 million.
The turnover of STT during the past eleven months was over LTL 294 million, the company reported.
Lietuvos Zinios

BBG retains growth rate
Five companies within a regional furniture group Baltijos Baldu Grupe (BBG) have achieved consolidated sales of LTL 177 million in the first eleven months of 2004, a twofold increase from the previous year when it came in at LTL 101.185 million.
In November alone, the group posted sales of almost LTL 17 million, a rise of 1.6 times, year-on-year.
The BBG is comprised of Lithuanian companies Freda, Dilikas, Wood Team Production, Lamelitas, and a chipboard producer Bolderaja in Latvia.
Verslo Zinios

Marzotto to sell Liteksas
Liteksas, Lithuania's yarn and wool blanket producer, intends to split its yarn division into a subsidiary, while the company's owner Marzotto, Italian textile giant, is negotiating with unnamed investors concerning the divestment of Liteksas' yarn business.
Virgilijus Varza, Liteksas' CEO, confirmed that the negotiations in Italy were still going on, and the results would be known on December 15, when Liteksas' shareholders were scheduled to pass a decision concerning the transfer of yarn business equipment to a new subsidiary and the raising of subsidiary's authorized capital.
Representatives of Liteksas could specify neither the scale of capital increase nor the name of new subsidiary.
Liteksas reported a profit of LTL 1.146 million for the first nine months of 2004, a rise of 49.4 percent from the year-earlier figure. The company's sales rose by 1.1 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 39.35 million in the nine-month period.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios

Thursday, 2nd of December

Foreigners will estimate contract
Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways or LG), the Lithuania's national railway operator, closed talks with three Western bidders in the company's tender on purchase of 34 new locomotives on Tuesday, and handed the results of negotiations over to independent technical experts, Germany's DE-Consult and Denmark's Ramboll.
The list of bidders in the locomotive tender shows three companies, namely, Alstom (France), Bombardier (Canada) and Siemens (Germany).
Upon the completion of review, the railway operator would notify the bidders about the outcomes of talks following the provisions of the Law on Public Procurement.
The company's investments for full 2004 are scheduled at some LTL 370 million, including some LTL 250 million in company's own funds.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Turnover of Apranga increased in November
Apranga, Lithuania's biggest garment retailer controlled by private concern MG Baltic, reported sales of LTL 121.1 million for the first eleven months of 2004, a surge of 42.2 percent from the year-earlier figure. In November alone, the company's sales soared by 65.3 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 14.721 million.
The clothing retailer earlier said it expected to exceed its annual pre-tax profit and sales targets, set at LTL 8 million and LTL 138 million, respectively.
In the days to come, the company would announce its expansion plans for 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Klaipedos Baldai grew 15.5 percent
Klaipedos Baldai, the largest producer of furniture in Lithuania, said in a preliminary report that its eleven-month sales grew 15.5 percent to LTL 108 million this year, versus the respective period of 2003.
The company recorded a similar boost of 15.4 percent in exports to nearly LTL 103 million during the eleven months. The domestic sales rose almost 19 percent to LTL 5.8 million, Klaipedos Baldai announced.
Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 1st of December

Vilnius and Klaipeda remain the fastest growing regions in the country
Vilnius and Klaipeda continued to lead other Lithuanian counties in terms of per capita GDP in 2003. The latest data shows that per capita GDP in the county of Vilnius grew by 11.4 percent to LTL 23,400 last year. Klaipeda ranked second with per capita GDP of LTL 17,400 and Kaunas was third with LTL 15,600. Per capita GDP growth accelerated to 9.4 percent and 12.2 percent in the respective counties, from the 2002 growth rates of 6 and 4.5 percent.
The strong GDP growth in Vilnius was driven by a 27 percent rise in the construction industry and a 21.2 percent growth in retail and catering. In Klaipeda, the fastest growing sectors were manufacturing with an 18.4 percent growth rate, and transport and communications with 13.1 percent.
Lithuania's average per capita GDP was LTL 16,300 in 2003, up by 11.6 percent from 2002. The counties of Vilnius and Klaipeda exceeded the country's average level by 44 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, per capita GDP in the counties of Alytus, Marijampole, Siauliai and Taurage reached up to 80 percent of the average.
Lietuvos Zinios, Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Assets of commercial banks advanced 20 percent
At the end of October, the assets of the country's ten commercial banks and two branches of overseas banks added up to LTL 26.5 billion. The assets grew 20.4 percent from the beginning of 2004. The loan portfolio of the domestic banks advanced 29.4 percent to LTL 15.7 billion during the first ten months of 2004. Deposits grew 21.4 percent to LTL 16.25 billion during the period.
In terms of assets, loans and deposits, Vilniaus Bankas holds a strong lead among the local commercial banks. The bank’s assets amounted to LTL 8.9 billion at the end of October. Hansabankas had assets valued at LTL 6 billion in October. The third largest bank was NORD/LB Lietuva, with assets worth LTL 3.2 billion. Snoras, with assets of LTL 1.8 billion, is ranked fourth.
Kauno Diena, Respublika

IT leaders
Six Lithuanian companies are on the list of the ten top information technologies companies or groups in the Baltics, while Lithuania's Sonex Holding is the largest IT group in the region in terms of revenues.
Sonex Holding tops the list with first-half revenues of LTL 82.6 million, up by 33 percent from revenues of LTL 61.8 million in the same period last year.
Estonia's MicroLink fell to the second position as its first-half revenues dropped by 21 percent to LTL 69.5 million from LTL 88.4 million a year ago.
Alna was the third with first-half revenues of LTL 27.5 million.
Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 30th of November

National airline incurred losses
Despite plans to make LTL 5.217 million in profit for 2004, Lietuvos Avialinijos (Lithuanian Airlines or LAL), the flagship Lithuania's carrier, found itself below the line in the January-to-September period.
Losses of state-run LAL were announced in the nine-month review of economic and social aspects of Lithuania's economy, worked out by the Ministry of Economy. However, the precise losses figure was not specified either by the ministry, or by the company itself.
For the first half of 2004, LAL reported losses of LTL 3.5 million, a decline of 5.4 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 3.7 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Half of savings kept at home
More than one-third of the Lithuanian population make enough money to set some aside for savings but almost half of them keep "extra" money "under mattresses," a poll has found. Some 34.4 percent of those polled said they had some money left for saving, while 65.3 percent said their incomes were too low to save. The market research group RAIT conducted the poll on November 4 through 7.
Some 50.5 percent of the respondents with enough money to save said they preferred to deposit their "free" money in a bank and 45.8 percent said they were keeping it at home. Only a very small portion of the population chooses other investment options.
Some 2.4 percent of them invest their "free" money in shares and government bonds, 1.9 percent invest it in valuable things, 0.7 percent save their money in a credit union, and 0.2 percent invest it in a business, according to the poll.
The largest percentage of people earning enough to save some money is in the age groups of 20-29 (44.3 percent) and 30-39 (42.9 percent), while the smallest percentage is among people aged 70-74 (21.7 percent).
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Lietuvos Pastas posted nearly LTL 3 million profit
State-owned Lietuvos Pastas (Lithuanian Post) earned profits of LTL 2.9 million on sales of LTL 113.4 million in the first nine months of 2004. Profits were 6.2 percent higher than profits earned during the same period in 2003.
The sum allocated by the post to investments in those nine months amounted to LTL 4.142 million, of which 38.2 percent went to buy computers and software and 35.6 percent accounted for money spent on the renovation of buildings and repair of equipment.
Verslo Zinios

Monday, 29th of November

Gubernija does not announce investor
Gubernija, one of the Color major breweries in Lithuania, expects to increase its authorised capital with new contributions. The company announced that there is a motion to cancel the option for stockholders to have the first priority to buy new shares of Gubernija. On December 27, stockholders are holding a meeting to elect a board member to one vacancy and to approve either the transfer or mortgage of fixed assets.
Neither Romuladas Dunauskas, the head and stockholder of the brewery, nor officials at the financial brokerage Finasta, which represents Gubernija, were available for comment.
Gubernija has made the decision several times to increase its capital by additional contributions. The schemes all failed, since there were no bidders for the shares. Earlier this year, the holders of the company voted to increase the authorised capital by LTL 6.54 million without giving the first priority to holders. In September, officials of Gubernija wished to reduce their portfolio to 51 percent.
During the first nine months of 2004, the brewery carried losses of LTL 1.569 million. The company controls 9.53 percent of the beer market in the country.
Verslo Zinios

Consumption of electricity increases
Lithuania's output of electricity slipped by 2 percent in the first nine months of 2004, compared with the year-earlier figure, while exports declined by 9.2 percent. Consumption, meanwhile, rose by 4 percent in the reporting period.
The country's electricity output totalled 13.64 billion kWh in the first nine months of 2004, with the output of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), at 10.79 billion, covering 79 percent of total power generation. Nine-month exports of electricity made up 4.96 billion kWh, while imports from Latvia came in at 0.06 billion kWh.
Meanwhile, local users consumed 8.72 billion kWh of electricity in the nine-month period. Consumption at energy sector came in at 2.09 billion kWh, industry - 1.87 billion kWh, and private households - 1.5 billion kWh.
Verslo Zinios

Mobile operators were fined
The Lithuanian Competition Council has imposed fines on Omnitel and Tele2 for improper advertising of their services. Tele2 will have to pay a fine of LTL 60,000 using misleading comparative advertising, which is not permitted by the law. Omnitel was fined LTL 30,000 for comparative advertising and was ordered to withdraw the ad.
Tele2 appealed against Omnitel’s ad Faktas Juodu Ant Balto, in which Omnitel introduced the average price of serves as the best among other operators.
Tele2 was fined for making a misleading comparison between rates for its pre-paid service Mazylis and those of Omnitel's pre-paid service Ezys. Omnitel complained to the competition watchdog. Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

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