Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 33.2005

Saturday, 20th of August

Lithuania’s insurance market grows by 4.5 percent
Lithuania's insurance market expanded by 4.5 percent in the first seven months of 2005, year-on-year, with total direct premiums written reaching LTL 610.774 million.
Direct non-life premiums firmed by 1 percent year-on-year to LTL 463.899 million, accounting for 76 percent of overall premiums. Life insurance premiums surged by 17.4 percent to LTL 146.876 million, or 24 percent of total premium amount. The insurers concluded 2.162 million insurance contracts in the first seven months of 2005, a plunge of 20.7 percent from the year-earlier figure.
Lietuvos Draudimas held a 32.9 percent share of domestic non-life insurance market in the first seven months of 2005, with LTL 152.468 million in premiums written during the reporting period. The Ergo group of companies held a 14.6 percent market share, down from 14.4 percent a year ago, with non-life insurance premiums reaching LTL 67.475 million, a rise of 2.3 percent from the year-earlier figure. PZU Lietuva wrote LTL 63.636 million in non-life insurance premiums (down by 17.2 percent year-on-year) in the first seven months of 2005, as its share on the market declined to 13.7 percent, from 16.7 percent a year ago.

Apranga will not expand to Minsk
Apranga, Lithuania's largest clothing retailer, has said it will continue to open new stores in the Baltic countries but will not expand into new markets this year. The company said earlier that it had plans to open an upmarket Hugo Boss store in Minsk by the end of the year.
"We want to enter new markets according to our best traditions, so we still need time to prepare for this," Apranga CEO Rimantas Perveneckas said. "I can only say that we are planning the most intensive expansion of the chain next year, both in the Baltic countries and in markets that are new to us."
Apranga posted a pretax profit of LTL 2.357 million for the first half of this year, a seven-fold increase from the same period in 2004. This exceeded the company's profit target by 7.7 percent. The clothing retailer is projecting pretax earnings of LTL 11.049 million on sales of LTL 208.2 million for the full year 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios

Petrol prices advanced by LTL 0.03
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices at Lukoil's filling stations in Vilnius hit their all-time highs on Thursday night. The price of 95 gasoline, the most popular grade, jumped by LTL 0.03 to LTL 3.10-3.12 per litre, while the price of diesel fuel was raised by LTL 0.04 to LTL 3.05-3.07 per litre. Mazeikiu Nafta, the sole crude refinery in the Baltics, on Thursday increased the wholesale price for 95 gasoline by LTL 0.01 to LTL 2.85 per litre but lowered the price of diesel fuel by LTL 0.01 to LTL 2.74 per litre.

Friday, 19th of August

Ekranas is not to withdraw from the market
Eimutis Zvybas, the CEO of Ekranas, hit out at the company's creditors that do not want wait for their money. The manufacturer of picture tubes has been operating at a loss and amassed huge debts. During a talk with journalists on Thursday, Zvybas said the manufacturer paid back LTL 130 million to banks in the first six months of the year. "We cannot pay more now because it would cause us to the halt the production process," the CEO of Ekranas said.
At the end of 2004, the sum of loans taken by Ekranas amounted to LTL 200 million, of which loans granted by SEB Vilniaus Bankas accounted for over LTL 100 million. The manufacturer publicly announced that the ratio of company liquidity and EBIDTA at the end of the previous year was lower than the limit set out in the loan agreement with Vilniaus Bankas.
Vilniaus Bankas and Hansabankas, Lithuania's two largest commercial banks, are the biggest creditors of Ekranas. The creditors also include Nord/LB Lietuva, Snoras, and the Vilnius branch of Nordea Bank Finland. The managers of Ekranas are meeting with the creditors on Thursday.
Respublika, Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Sales of Vichy Classique grew due to new taste
Svyturys-Utenos Alus, a domestic brewery, sold 7.36 million litres of Vichy Classique and Montavit bottled water in the first half of 2005, a 28 percent increase year-on-year. Svyturys-Utenos Alus reported that compared to January-June of 2004, the share of the company in the bottled water market grew by 0.6 percentage point to 12.4 percent in the first half of this year. Cranberry taste water that captured one-tenth of the bottled water market within two months had the greatest impact on the growth of sales of Vichy Classique.
Lithuanians drank an average of 29 litres of bottled water per person in 2004. Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

LTL 108 million for shareholders
Danisco Sugar Panevezys and Danisco Sugar Kedainiai - the Lithuanian subsidiaries of Danisco, one of the leading producers of sugar in northern Europe - will pay over LTL 108 million in dividends to their shareholders. The investors of Danisco Sugar Panevezys earlier this week decided to allocate LTL 76.7 million from last year's profits for the payment of dividends. Danisco Sugar Kedainiai will pay dividends of LTL 18 million. To reduce its authorized capital by 25 percent, Danisco Sugar Kedainiai will pay another LTL 13.4 million.
In the financial year of 2004-2005, which ended on April 30, the turnover of Danisco Sugar Panevezys reached LTL 173.7 million, a 37 percent increase year-on-year. The company earned profits of LTL 26.5 million. The sales of Danisco Sugar Kedainiai went up 1.9 times to LTL 101 million in the preceding financial year. The profits of the sugar plant amounted to LTL 14.2 million.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 18th of August

Polish group eyes on Mazeikiu Nafta, too
PKN Orlen, the Polish oil group, is interested in investing in Mazeikiu Nafta, the only crude refinery in the Baltic countries. The Polish press has reported that PKN Orlen would bid for a stake in the Lithuanian company if it were put up for sale. The Polish group says that plans to acquire Mazeikiu Nafta, which itself considered buying a part of PKN Orlen's filling stations a year ago, are fully in line with its strategy of investing in operations with high profit margins. Yukos, the embattled Russian oil giant, is looking for a potential buyer of its 53.7 percent stake in Mazeikiu Nafta.
A number of Russian and international companies, including TNK-BP, ConocoPhillips, Lukoil, Gazprom, as well as Kazakhstan's KazMunayGaz, have expressed interest in buying the refinery.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Ukio Bankas placed LTL 20 million share issue
Ukio Bankas, the fifth-biggest Lithuanian commercial bank by assets, said that the placement of its new share issue worth LTL 20 million at par was completed on Wednesday and the bank might offer its shares to new investors by the end of the year.
Successful placement of new share issue had proved significant investor interest in the securities of the bank. The size of upcoming issue would depend on discussions with potential investors, which were held before and were continuing. The sale price would be predetermined by the market. The issue price was LTL 12 a share, well below the share's closing price of LTL 27.37 on the Vilnius Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Income of lottery companies
Aggregate turnover of three major Lithuanian lottery operators, including Olifeja, Zalgirio Loto and Fortuna Baltica, totalled LTL 48.785 million in the first half of 2005, a decline of 9.2 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 53.736 million. Three lottery operators sold 25.682 million lottery tickets, down by 14.3 percent in year-on-year terms, and paid out LTL 22.999 million in winnings, a decline of 10.5 percent from the January-to-June period of 2004.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Wednesday, 17th of August

Less dwelling houses were built
Despite growing prices for dwellings, the number of newly constructed residential buildings dropped in the second quarter of 2005. There were 704 new residential buildings with 1,077 living quarters constructed in the April-June. According to the official record, in the second quarter domestic companies built 11 apartment buildings with 363 apartments, a drop of 49.5 percent year-on-year. The largest number of new dwellings was constructed in the regions of Vilnius (240) and Kaunas (191) and the city of Klaipeda (65). Experts say that the lack of supply is one of the main reasons why the prices for both new and old dwellings are going up.
Kauno Diena, Respublika

Ekranas resumes manufacturing after break
Ekranas, Lithuania's colour picture tube (CPT) producer suffering from a downturn on global electronics market, is resuming the manufacturing after a more than one-month long break. With the manufacturing process suspended, the company's sales departments and some service and auxiliary units continued work.
Ekranas posted a loss of LTL 36 million on sales of LTL 164.6 million for the first six months of 2005. Compared with the first half of 2004, the company's turnover plunged by 39 percent, while the net earnings in the January-to-June period of 2004 stood at LTL 7.5 million. The producer, which net earnings plunged by 15.7 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 1.29 million last year, is projecting the losses of LTL 10 million for 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Exports boosts Pieno Zvaigzdes
Pieno Zvaigzdes, the leading Lithuania's dairy group, posted LTL 241.7 million in sales for the first seven months of 2005, a rise of 10.97 percent from the year-earlier figure.
Sales on domestic market increased by 3.2 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 145.3 million, while sales abroad surged by 21.1 percent, to reach LTL 96.4 million. Exports comprised 40 percent of total sales figure. EU subsidies for exports to third countries as payable to Pieno Zvaigzdes should make up LTL 10.2 million for the first seven months of this year.
Verslo Zinios

Tuesday, 16th of August

Sanitas earned LTL 3.1 million
Sanitas, the largest Lithuania's pharmaceutical company, reported a preliminary net profit of LTL 3.096 million for the first seven months of 2005, a decline of 11.5 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 3.498 million. In July alone, the net earnings dropped by 6.3 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 620,000, from LTL 662,000 in July 2004.
Together with Hoechst-Biotika, a Slovak pharmaceutical plant acquired earlier this year, and Altisana, a subsidiary, the company is projecting consolidated net profits of LTL 7.2 million and sales of over LTL 49 million this year.
Verslo Zinios

Ingostrakh accuses commission
Russian group Ingostrakh, the major stockholder of the Lithuanian non-life insurance firm Ingo Baltic (previously Baltik Garant), has circulated a accusing the Insurance Supervision Commission of Lithuania of wrongdoing. In a statement placed on its official website, Ingostrakh says that the Lithuanian insurance authority prematurely announced its intention to start bankruptcy proceedings against Ingo Baltic. Because of this, the troubled firm could not complete talks with other companies regarding the transfer of liabilities. The Russian company indicates that the insurance supervisory authority of Lithuania announced about the imminent bankruptcy of Ingo Baltic on August 8, a day before the firm was due to complete talks with a potential successor. The leak of information made it impossible to finalise talks with Lithuanian insurance companies over the transfer of its insurance portfolio, the statement on the website of Ingostrakh reads.
Marijus Mikalauskas, vice-chairman of the Lithuanian insurance monitoring body, argues that his institution kept updating the senior officials of Ingostrakh about developments involving Ingo Baltic.
Verslo Zinios

Seven companies can export meat to Russia
Seven more Lithuanian companies have been given the green light to export their food products to Russia. Export permits have been issued to Kaisiadoriu Paukstynas (Kaisiadorys Poultry Farm), Arvi Kalakutai (Arvi Turkeys), Marijampoles Pasarai (Marijampole Fodder), and the pig producers Girkalnio Kiauliu Kompleksas (Girkalnis Pig Complex), Kontvainiai, Vingininkai and Traku Zelve.
Currently, 69 companies have permits to export their products to Russia.
Verslo Zinios, Respublika

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