Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 34.2005

Saturday, 27th of August

Inflation threatens Baltic Tigers
The newspaper Financial Times that considers Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the Baltic Tigers because of their successful economic development, warns about the threat of inflation in these countries. The three countries are praised for their substantial economic growth and stock marked development. The Vilnius Stock Exchange's index has increased 50 percent, that of Tallinn 38 percent and that of Riga 22 percent. The three countries are at the moment in the so-called "waiting-room for the euro". In order to adopt the common currency, the Baltic States have to fulfil the Maastricht inflation criteria. Under the Maastricht criteria, national budget's deficit must not exceed 3 percent of gross domestic product in countries that wish to join the euro-zone, and national debt must not exceed 60 percent of GDP. The Latvian central bank expects the inflation rate to reach 6 percent this year. Estonia's annual inflation was 3.9 percent in July, and Lithuania's 1.9 percent.
Respublika, Kauno Diena

Rubicon park may expect order from municipality
A water amusement park that should be built by Rubicon group in Vilnius can expect a contract from the city of around LTL 20 million. The contract would be valid until the end of 2017. On Friday, the municipality announced a facilitated open tender, the winner of which would have around 80,000 visitors in the amusement park a year. According to the existing plan, students of all schools in Vilnius will visit the water park at least once a year. The potential participants in the tender will have to submit proof of being able to complete the park by January 1, 2007. The municipality is accepting bids until September 12 this year. Rubicon, the contractor of the Vilnius Amusement Park project, has also pledged to build a water park. No other contractors have made any pledges to build a water park. It is quite likely that the tender will have only one participant: Marela, which is controlled by Rubicon. The Vilnius City Council has agreed to buy the services of Marela for LTL 2.1 million a year. The water park is to be built on a territory of 61 hectares.
Kauno Diena

Central government deficit
Lithuania's central government deficit reached LTL 527 million in the first seven months of 2005, accounting for 0.8 percent of the projected gross domestic product (GDP), the country's ministry of finance has reported. Seven-month revenues of the central government totalled LTL 10.999 billion, while the expenditures ran at LTL 10.999 billion, and transactions with non-financial assets made up LTL 527.1 million.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 26th of August

SBA boosts its share in the furniture market
SBA Furniture Group, a company controlled by Lithuania's multi-business SBA concern, has acquired 23.32 percent of Klaipedos Mediena, a furniture producer majority owned by Vakaru Medienos Grupe (VMG), the leading Lithuania's furniture group. SBA Furniture Group has acquired the stake in Klaipedos Mediena from Rimandas Stonys, president of Dujotekana, Lithuania's natural gas importer. In early July, SBA Furniture Group acquired 50 percent of VMG from Vivum brokerage, which, in turn, earlier purchased those shares from Stonys. VMG, which controls three furniture companies, including Klaipedos Mediena, Giriu Bizonas and Sakuona, currently holds 35.01 percent of Klaipedos Mediena, which has an authorized capital of LTL 30.265 million.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios

New LTL 62 million worth gas pipeline was opened
Together with its partners, Lietuvos Dujos, a domestic importer of natural gas, completed the construction of a gas pipeline from Pabrade to the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Visaginas. The value of the project amounts to LTL 62 million. The project was financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Lithuanian government, and Lietuvos Dujos. According to the gas importer, the construction of the pipeline was necessary due to the scheduled shutdown of the nuclear plant. The nuclear power plant will be closed by 2009. The official opening of the new pipeline will take place on Thursday.

Revenues of broadcasters advanced
Lithuanian commercial broadcasters earned LTL 113.3 million in January-June 2005, a 4.2 percent increase year-on-year. Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTC) reported this data based on the broadcasters' contributions to finance the work of the commission. The results of the Lithuanian Radio and Television, the national broadcaster, and Pirmasis Baltijos Kanalas, a TV broadcaster registered in Latvia, were not included in the report. Compared to the first half of 2004, the income of commercial television broadcasters grew 4.4 percent to LTL 70 million in January-June 2005. Revenues of cable TV operators grew by 5.4 percent to LTL 27.769 million.

Thursday, 25th of August

Industrial sales grew by 5.7 percent
Lithuania's industrial output, as measured by sales, rose by 5.7 percent in the first seven months of 2005 in year-on-year terms. In July alone, industrial sales increased by 1.9 percent versus July 2004. Sales in the mining and quarrying sector, and the manufacturing sector taken together rose by 7.2 percent in the seven-month period. Excluding the refined petroleum products, total sales in the mining and quarrying, and manufacturing sectors increased by 6.2 percent in the reporting period. Industrial output rose by 10.8 percent in Lithuania last year, final estimations have shown. Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Lithuanian branch of the global IT company Hewlett-Packard, will be paid a total of LTL 75.4 million for building the national integrated customs information system. The company won this contract in 2001. The company won this contract in 2001. The National Audit Office eventually found that buying services from a single source was in violation of laws. The office also pinpointed what it called an obscure formulation of the contractor's obligations. To this day, the Lithuanian Customs Department paid Hewlett-Packard a sum of LTL 68 million for performed operations.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Vanagupe waits for foreign guests
The Hotel Vanagupe, a five-star hotel in the Lithuanian seaside resort of Palanga, has recently joined Boutique Hotels and Resorts International, an alliance of independent boutique hotels and resorts from around the world. The Hotel Vanagupe is the only hotel in Lithuania and the second in the Baltic countries after the four-star Hotel Ainavas in Riga to become a member of the alliance.
Boutique Hotels and Resorts International is an alliance of almost 50 hotels in America, Europe and Asia, which are unique in architectural style, interior design, decorative theme and personalized service.
Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 24th of August

Vilniaus Akropolis, a real estate rent company, which is controlled by Lithuania's biggest capital group of Vilniaus Prekyba, carried a takeover of Rigas Akropolis, a Latvian company, which belongs to the same owners. Vilniaus Akropolis boosted its capital by LTL 33.067 million to LTL 214.249 million.
According to previous reports, about LTL 400 million had to be invested into the trade and entertainment centre Akropolis in Riga.
Vilniaus Akropolis operates around a 108,000-m2 centre in Vilnius and plans to open similar centre in Klaipeda this year, the value of which is estimated to reach LTL 200 million. Moreover, the construction of LTL 275 million already began in Kaunas. Vilniaus Akropolis, which opened in 2003, had 11 million visitors in twelve months of 2004.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Vilniaus Baldai invests into chipboards
Vilniaus Baldai, one of the leading Lithuanian furniture manufacturers, reported a pretax profit of LTL 1.5 million for the first seven months of this year, down from LTL 5.7 million in the same period a year ago. The company was in the process of launching our new production facility and the production output was too low to cover loans and still make a profit. Vilniaus Baldai expects production volumes to be higher in August. Vilniaus Baldai's investments reached about LTL 65 million in the years 2004 to 2005, including LTL 25 million it invested in the shares of the furniture and chipboard manufacturer Giriu Bizonas.
Vilniaus Baldai exports around 97 percent of its products to the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Canada, Finland and Russia.
Verslo Zinios

Better purchase prices
Purchase prices of agricultural products in Lithuania increased 4.7 percent year-on-year in July 2005. This was caused by increases in the prices of plant and animal products, which grew 3.3 percent and 6.6 percent respectively. In the plant product group, prices for beetroots went up the most - 2.2 times. In the animal product group, prices for milk and cattle experienced the most significant growth, going up 12.7 percent and 12.1 percent. Compared to June, purchase prices for agricultural products went up 4.2 percent: prices for plant products grew 6.6 percent and prices for animal products increased 0.9 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios

Tuesday, 23rd of August

Exports boosts turnover of Rokiskio Suris
Rokiskio Suris, Lithuania's largest dairy group, reported sales of LTL 247.69 million for the first seven months of 2005, a rise of 6.95 percent from the year-earlier figure.
"The sales on Lithuania's market have been stable, and the rise in sales results on the continuous increase in exports," Dalius Trumpa, Rokiskio Suris' production director, said.
Rokiskio Suris channels some two-thirds of total output to foreign markets, mostly to the European Union countries.
Verslo Zinios

Klaipeda seaport is the leader in the Baltics
The Lithuanian seaport of Klaipeda has retained the lead among the seaports of the three Baltic countries in terms of seven-month container handling. The Klaipeda Port Authority has announced that the port handled 123,600 TEU containers in the first seven months of this year, a surge of 33 percent from the year-earlier figure. The Klaipeda port recorded a 2 percent increase, to 12.21 million tons, in overall cargo traffic in the seven-month period. This placed it sixth among eight ports in the Eastern Baltic Sea region.
Verslo Zinios

New travel agency enter the market
Travel agency Worldvisit has started its operations in Lithuania. Gintaras Mikstas, the director of the company, which is controlled by individuals from Lithuania, said the decision to start the agency was prompted by the growing number of Lithuanians travelling to other countries. The new company was opened in Akropolis, a retail and entertainment centre, in Vilnius. The agency employs 10 people currently. Worldvisit sells trips to Turkey, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and other countries.
Lietuvos Rytas

Monday, 22nd of August

0.2 percent inflation is forecasted in August
The Lithuanian Statistical Office forecast the inflation to be at 0.2 percent in August. The price growth in August will result mainly from the price increase in the goods and services within the transport group. In July the consumer price index dropped 0.2 percent month on month, but increased 1.8 percent year on year.
Verslo Zinios

Babilonas was opened in Panevezys
On Friday, the second biggest entertainment and shopping mall in the country Babilonas was opened in Panevezys. Ogmios Centras and Norfos Mazmena invested nearly LTL 60 million in the construction of the centre. 30,000-m2 Babilonas was built within less than a year. 450 kilometres of various communications were installed in the building. Hyper Norfa occupies the biggest part of the centre – 7,000 m2. 130 other stores will be established in Babilonas. The mall will employ some 1,000 Panevezys residents.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Tamro will purchase Saurimeda
One of the biggest Lithuanian wholesale pharmaceutical company Tamro has been given green light to purchase Kaunas-based Saurimeda that controls a network of 10 drugstores in various towns of the country. The Competition Council allowed Tamro to control 100 percent of Saurimeda. Tamro started expansion in the retail pharmaceutical market last August when it acquired company Farmacijos Projektai controlling 46 drugstores. In February 2005, Tamro signed an agreement over acquisition of Vogne, which controls 13 drugstores, while in June the company purchased Silutes Vaistines that has 4 drugstores.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas

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