Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 16.2005

Saturday, 23rd of April

Airports saw the 41-percent rise of passengers
According to the data of the national statistics office, a total of 247,700 travellers passed through Lithuanian airports in the first three months of 2005, a 41.1 percent increase year-on-year. Lithuanian airlines had 122,500 passengers in the first quarter, 51.9 percent more than they had in the same period of 2004. The flow of travellers at the Vilnius International Airport, the largest airport in the country, amounted to 231,000 in January-March, 44 percent higher compared to the first quarter last year. Meanwhile, the total number of flights grew 46 percent to 6,240. The flow of travellers in the Vilnius airport would rise by a quarter in 2005. Free air space, liberalized labour market, coupled with an increased agenda of international cultural, sports, and business meetings catalyse the growth.
In the first quarter of 2005, the Palanga Airport posted a boost of 90 percent. The airport served 15,100 passengers in January-March this year, meanwhile the flow of travellers reached 7,950 in the same period of 2004. The flow of passengers in the only airport of Kaunas slumped this year.
In 2004, three Lithuanian airports had 1.1 million travellers, a 41 percent increase year-on-year. The total number of flights handled was 33,760, 21.3 percent higher compared to 2003.
Kauno Diena

Retail trade leader invests in foreign countries
VP Market, the largest retailer in the Baltics, opened new stores in Estonia and Romania on Friday. The company said it opened a T-Market store in Tallinn on Friday and would open one more in Tartu on Saturday. This will expand its Estonian chain to 18. Also on Friday, VP Market opened its 8th Albinuta discount store in Bucharest. The retailer also has 195 stores in Lithuania and 88 in Latvia. It plans to open about 100 new outlets this year, with planned investments of around EUR 100 million.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Advertising volumes surge
Advertising volumes increased across all media in Lithuania in the first three months of 2005, whereas outdoor advertising posted the fastest growth rate in the reporting period, the data released by the market research company TNS Gallup has shown.
Total advertising volumes on TV channels broadcasting in Lithuania rose by 8.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with the January-to-March period of 2004. Excluding the advertising time on TV1 channel, which has been monitored since October 2004, total advertising volumes on TV channels expanded by some 6 percent in the period. Advertising time on local radio stations grew by 18.7 percent versus the first three months of 2004. The surge in advertising time on local radio resulted on inclusion of Russkoje Radio Baltija into the list of radio stations surveyed. Excluding the latter station, the total advertising time on local radio stations remained unchanged. Newspaper advertising rose by 4.3 percent, while magazine advertising increased by 8.1 percent in the reporting period.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 22nd of April

Spurt of Stora Enso Miskas
Stora Enso Miskas (Stora Enso Forest), the leading Lithuania's timber company controlled by international group Stora Enso, posted LTL 39 million in turnover for the first three months of 2005, a twofold rise from the year-earlier figure of LTL 19 million.
"The surge in turnover came in on the back of expansion of our activities, as we added the supply of products to the local market to our business operations," Audrius Mikalauskas, Stora Enso Miskas CEO, said.
In the first quarter of 2005, Stora Enso Miskas acquired 229,000 cubic meters of timber, a surge of 54 percent from the January-to-March period of 2004.
Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Housing loan portfolio soared to LTL 3.9 million over a year
A total portfolio of housing loans issued to Lithuanian residents swelled to LTL 3.89 billion by the end of the first quarter. This figure is 78 percent higher compared with the first quarter of 2004. Officials of the central bank and market players say that the country still has room for growth of housing loans. In the year to March 2005, Lithuania also saw a rapid growth of other crediting products for residents. Other individual loans, mainly consumer credits, surged 2.1 times to LTL 1.26 billion. The sum of loans issued to residents in the first quarter of 2005 was the biggest one – LTL 705. Private companies received loans worth LTL 538 million in this period. A year-on-year boost of individual loans constituted 84.5 percent. At the end of March, these loans added up to LTL 5.15 billion. All loans issued by Lithuanian banks to both residents and companies edged up 36.3 percent to a total of LTL 17.8 billion since the first quarter of 2004.
Respublika

Successful beginning of the year for Achema
Fertiliser producer Achema, part of the concern Achemos Grupe, generated pre-tax profits valued at LTL 8.17 million during the first quarter of 2005. Versus the same period of last year, the firm hiked profits 55 percent. The domestic supplier of fertilisers bettered sales 65 percent to LTL 237 million in the first three months of this year. Achema said that it performed 45.5 percent more deliveries overseas and boosted more than thrice domestic sales. Jonas Sirvydis, the managing director of Achema, said that the investment program of 2003-2004 led to upgrading of facilities, reducing cost price and emissions, and producing new fertilisers.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 21st of April

Growth of insurance market
Lithuania's insurance market expanded by 6.2 percent in the first three months of 2005, year-on-year with total direct premiums written reaching LTL 221.3 million. Direct non-life premiums rose by 2.6 percent year-on-year to LTL 161.257 million, accounting for 72.9 percent of overall premiums. Life insurance premiums surged by 17.5 percent to LTL 59.995 million, or 27.1 percent of total premium amount.
Insurance payouts totalled LTL 88.9 million in the first three months of 2005, a surge of 28.5 percent from the year-earlier figure. Non-life insurers paid out LTL 81.4 million in claims (up by 32.8 percent), while life insurers paid out LTL 7.4 million (down by 4.9 percent).
Lietuvos Zinios

LJL shipping company earns EUR 3 million
Lithuania's state-controlled shipping company Lietuvos Juru Laivininkyste (LJL) has reported a pre-tax profit of LTL 10.561 million for the first quarter of 2005, a surge of 26.5 times from the year-earlier figure of LTL 398,800. First-quarter sales soared by 31.9 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 23.483 million, from LTL 17.802 million in the January-to-March period of 2004. The Klaipeda-based company, which posted LTL 2.8 million in audited net earnings for full 2004, sees its profit figure soar this year as windfall gains from the sale of vessels alone should reach almost LTL 10 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Ukio Bankas posted LTL 2.4 profit
Ukio Bankas, the fifth largest commercial bank by assets in Lithuania, earned an unaudited net profit of LTL 2.4 million in the first quarter of 2005, 4.4 times more than it did in January-March of last year. The bank had forecast it would earn LTL 1.1 million in profits in the first three months of this year, the company reported.
In 2004, the audited net profit of the bank stood at LTL 6 million. Ukio Bankas intends to boost profits to LTL 7 million this year. In January-March, the assets of Ukio Bankas increased 10 percent to LTL 1.66 billion; the loan portfolio grew 19 percent to LTL 699 million, while deposits and letters of credit went up 2.9 percent to LTL 828 million.
Respublika

Wednesday, 20th of April

The market of mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance shrank
The market of mandatory motor vehicle li ability insurance, compared to a year ago, shrank 17.6 percent during the first quarter of 2005. Insurance companies raised LTL 30.8 million worth of such insurance premiums in this period. Insurers this year paid LTL 25.8 million worth of compensations for damage, or 43 percent more from the year earlier. In January-March 2005, eleven domestic insurance companies dealing with motor vehicle insurance signed 338,700 policies.
In March alone, amount of raised premiums grew to LTL 20.4 million. The claims paid in that month equalled LTL 9.7 million. At the end of March 2005, mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance covered 1.163 motor vehicles under ordinary policies, 104,000 motor vehicles under collective policies and 12,000 vehicles under policies signed at the border. There were 117,700 international insurance policies of this type signed in this period.
Respublika

Loss of Gubernija amounts to LTL 4.8 million
Lithuania's brewery Gubernija reported LTL 4.8 million in audited losses for full 2004, a surge of 3.3 times from the losses of LTL 1.476 million a year earlier. Gubernija has an authorized share capital of LTL 21.786 million. The brewery’s sales increased by 7.4 percent to 494,000 dekalitres in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the sales of 460,000 dekalitres in the respective period of 2004.
Verslo Zinios

Sales of furniture stood at LTL 1.3 billion
Sales of Lithuanian furniture companies went over LTL 1.3 billion in 2004, a 36 percent increase year-on-year. According to a forecast, the Lithuanian furniture industry, which generates the highest value added in the country, should grow by a quarter in 2005. Last year, furniture exports amounted to LTL 768 million, a decline of 2.7 percent compared to 2003. Last year, the timber industry generated the largest part -- 5.7 percent -- of the value added created by the Lithuanian industry (22.7 percent).
Imports of furniture slightly went up in 2004, due to the growth of the construction sector and the increase in the demand for furniture.
Respublika

Tuesday, 19th of April

The amount of loan is LTL 640 million
Three Lithuania's commercial banks, including Hansabankas, Nordea Bank Lietuva and Sampo, will extend a syndicated loan of LTL 640 million to Vilniaus Akropolis, the operator of the largest Baltic shopping and entertainment complex owned by Vilniaus Prekyba. The syndicated loan will be the largest ever in Lithuania. Hansabank group will extend some LTL 340 million, while Nordea Bank Lietuva will loan approximately LTL 218.9 million, and Sampo group will contribute to the syndicated loan with about LTL 81.3 million. Vilniaus Akropolis will add the syndicated loan to its own funds earmarked for the construction of new Akropolis malls in Kaunas and Klaipeda.
In Klaipeda the Akropolis mall would be opened in December, while the mall in Kaunas would be completed by mid-2006.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Pigiau Grybo to adopt brand of Leader Price
Iki, the second largest retail network in Lithuania, on Monday circulated an official statement that first discount stores with the trademark of Leader Price will open in Baltics at the beginning of May. Leader Price stores, the holder of which is the French-owned company Geant Polska, are based in Poland. Groupe Casino, which owns the company in Poland, made sales of EUR 36.3 billion in 2004. Iki said that it is now in talks over running Leader Price stores in three Baltic countries. According to sources, the Iki-owned discount retailing chain Pigiau Grybo is likely to change its trademark to Leader Price. The German discount chain Lidl plans to launch its first stores in Lithuania this year.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Vilniaus Baldai steps into Russia's market, sets eyes on Finland
Vilniaus Baldai, the leading Lithuania's furniture producer, has set its eyes on Finland after entering Russia's market. Early in April, the company forwarded its first batch of furniture to Moscow. In 2006 the sales of Vilniaus Baldai in Russia might reach approximately LTL 10 million. The company had already secured long-term contracts with 3 Russia's furniture producers and wholesalers. Virginija Norkiene, sales and marketing director, noted that the company would first manufacture the furniture as ordered by the Finnish customer and would launch trade in furniture under its own trademark in 2006. Asked about plans to step into Ukraine's market, Vilniaus Baldai executives said that the specific vision for the market would be worked out in 2006 as the company needed to study that market in greater detail. IKEA, which acquires some 80 percent of total output of the furniture producer, is the largest customer of Vilniaus Baldai. For the first quarter of 2005, the company posted sales of LTL 24 million, an increase of 5.4 percent year-on-year.
Lietuvos Zinios

Monday, 18th of April

Sales of Pieno Zvaigzdes exceeded LTL 90 million
Pieno Zvaigzdes, one of the largest dairy groups in the country, reported a 5 percent year-on-year increase in its sales for the first quarter of 2005. An increase in the production of fermented cheese sent first quarter sales up to LTL 94.508 million.
The board of the company intends to pay a dividend of LTL 0.15 per share for 2004. The audit financial results of the company will be announced before the shareholders’ meeting, which is scheduled on April 28.
Verslo Zinios

Profits of Sanitas
Sanitas, Lithuania's biggest pharmaceutical producer, reported a preliminary net profit of LTL 579,000 for the first quarter of 2005, down 2.3 times from a net profit of LTL 1.36 million a year earlier. The company' sales for the first quarter fell by 29.8 percent year-on-year to LTL 6.738 million.
Respublika

Mazeikiu Nafta falls short of first quarter target
Lithuanian oil company Mazeikiu Nafta refined 2.268 million tons of oil in the first quarter of 2005, a rise of 6.3 percent year-on-year, failing to reach the targeted 2.4 million tons. Over the January-to-March period, the Butinge oil terminal transhipped 1.009 million tons of oil, down by 59 percent is compared to the same period a year ago.
Verslo Zinios

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