Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 36.2005

Saturday, 10th of September

FDI volume slumped
The volume of the foreign direct investment amounted to LTL 1.315 billion in January-July 2005, a decrease of 12 percent year-on-year. In July, the direct foreign investments amounted to LTL 69 million, the Central Bank reported. In January-July, the income from the foreign direct investments reached LTL 1.137 billion. In July alone, the figure stood at LTL 17.8 million.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Exports grew by 23.6 percent and imports by 15.9 percent
Lithuanian exports grew 23.6 percent and the imports increased 15.9 percent in January-July, 2005, compared to the first seven months in 2004. According to preliminary data of the Department of Statistics, Lithuanian companies have exported products worth LTL 17.028 billion and imported goods estimated at LTL 22.028 billion this year. The Lithuanian foreign trade deficit amounted to LTL 5 billion, a drop of 4.4 percent year-on-year. Compared to the same month in 2004, in July alone, the exports increased 16 percent and the imports dropped 0.3 percent respectively. Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Polish pipes for Lithuanian gas
Poland's pipe manufacturer Ferrum has won a tender announced by Lietuvos Dujos, the natural gas utility, and will supply LTL 9 million worth insulated steel pipes for the laying of cross-country gas pipeline. The tender on the supply of those pipes attracted six bidders. The agreement with the Polish company was concluded in late August, and Lietuvos Dujos would use own funds to buy the pipes. Lietuvos Dujos, Lithuania's gas import and supply company, is controlled by Russia's gas giant Gazprom and Germany's Ruhrgas.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 9th of September

GDP grew by 6.4 percent
The gross domestic product (GDP) of Lithuania rose 6.4 percent during the first half of 2005, compared to the same period of the previous year. The half-year gross domestic product this year constituted LTL 32.07 billion at current prices. The national statistics office earlier reported that the economy grew 7 percent during the first six months of 2005. For the second quarter of this year, Lithuania recorded a more vigorous GDP growth of 8 percent. The gross domestic product in the second quarter made up LTL 17.425 billion at current prices. The significant second-quarter growth, based on estimates of statistics experts, resulted mainly from buoyant activities of hotels and restaurants (growth of 17.7 percent), transport and communications (12.6 percent), and retail trade and wholesale (9.7 percent). Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios

Zara will boost Apranga
Apranga, Lithuania's largest clothing retailer controlled by private MG Baltic concern, intends to open three new Zara stores in Lithuania under the franchise contract with Spain's Inditex. In 2004 the group opened a Zara store in each of three Baltic capitals, with the largest outlet being set up in Vilnius. In the first half of 2005, the net earnings of the group soared by 7 times, year-on-year, to LTL 2.352 million. The group has attributed the rise in earnings to successful subsidiary projects, including the operators of Zara stores in the Baltic countries.
Lietuvos Zinios

VP Market opens a store in Bulgaria
VP Market, the operator of the largest Baltic retail chain, has opened a new T-Market discount store in Bulgaria, its fourth retail outlet in the country. The new store was opened in the town of Pernik. The remaining three T-Market discount stores have been set up in the capital of Sofia. VP Market currently operates 195 stores in Lithuania, 95 outlets in Latvia, 22 in Estonia and 8 in Romania. The retailer posted sales of EUR 707.2 million in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria for the first six months of 2005, a surge of 23 percent from the year-earlier figure of EUR 572.1 million.

Thursday, 8th of September

Russian inspectors found no violations
Inspectors of the Russian Veterinary Service, who were checking Lithuanian companies last week, discovered no violations; they also found out that the counterfeit documents were produced by Russians. Inspectors of the Russian Veterinary Service, who visited Lithuania in the preceding week, carried out a check of Lithuanian companies regarding the exports and transit of meat products to Russia, the Lithuanian State Food and Veterinary Service reported. The Russian experts arrived in Lithuania after receiving data about alleged fabrication of documents related to the export of products from the EU to Russia. During the check of the companies Girtekos Logistika and Klaipedos Saldytuvu Terminalas, the Russian inspectors discovered that the documents issued in Russia were different from those produced in Lithuania; they therefore assume that the counterfeit documentation was produced by Russians.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Fuel prices increased production prices
The fuel price increase sent Lithuanian industry producer prices up 2.4 percent in August compared to the previous months, and 13 percent year on year. A 7.3 percent growth of the prices for refined oil products, a 10.9 percent increase in the prices for crude and 1.8 percent hike of ready-made clothes had biggest effect on the industry output indices in August.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Vilniaus Degtine plans to grow by 10 percent
Vilniaus Degtine, one of the largest domestic alcohol producers, this year projects a sales growth of 22 percent to LTL 35.5 millions. The forecast of deliveries in 2005 is 5.3 million litres, or 11.6 percent more compared to the previous year. The income of the company amounted to LTL 16.09 million over the first six months of this year, a rise of 24.8 percent since the same period last year when it came in at LTL 12.89 million.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 7th of September

Beer market advanced 4.6 percent, exports grew by 45.3 percent
Major Lithuanian breweries raised domestic sales by 4.6 percent, year-on-year, to 176.59 million litres of beer in the first eight months of this year. Svyturys-Utenos Alus held a 48.47 percent market share with 85.49 million litres in beer sales in the January-to-August period, a rise of 3.3 percent from the year earlier figure. 8-month sales by Kalnapilis-Tauras Group slipped by 0.5 percent, year-on-year, to 42.26 million litres, to put the company in control of 23.93 percent of the market. Ragutis raised sales by 6.9 percent, to 18.86 million litres and held 10.68 percent of the market. Sales by Gubernija expanded by 11.7 percent, to 18.77 million litres, equivalent to 10.63 percent market share. Lithuanian beer producers recorded a 5.4 percent growth in aggregate domestic beer sales last year, to 254.62 million litres.
Five major breweries exported 10.43 million litres of beer in the first eight months of this year, a surge of 45.3 percent from the year-earlier figure of 7.18 million litres. Svyturys-Utenos Alus saw beer exports for the eight months drop by 13.4 percent year-on-year to 4.58 million litres. Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe exported 2.99 million litres of beer, a surge of 2.8 times compared with the same period a year ago. Gubernija's beer exports soared 3.11 times, to reach 2.51 million litres. Ragutis sold 320,000 litres of beer on foreign markets during the eight-month period. It did not export any beer in the same period last year.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

LAL plans LTL 10 million investments
Lithuanian Airlines (LAL) has said that it is going to introduce a new trademark and propose a series of pricing and other novelties next November. The main priorities of the air company is enhancing security of flights, upgrading aircraft, expanding the geography of flights and improving the quality of services, Petras Vasiliauskas, the chairman of LAL, said. The airline is set to invest at least LTL 10 million into reorganisation and development during this year.
"We will concentrate on regular and charter flights, and technical service. But we will look for customs mediation services of higher quality, separate real estate management and focus on flights", he said.
LAL says that one of priorities on its agenda is solutions related to information technologies, which should reduce costs and fares. Next year the airline is opening a new technical service workshop for 3-4 aeroplanes.

MG Baltic sold ELTA
MG Baltic, the leading Lithuania's concern, aims to sell its 57.93 percent stake in the news agency ELTA to Ziniu Partneriai, a recently established company associated with the publishing group Respublika. "We have decided to pull out from small business," Raimondas Kurlianskis, MG Baltic vice-president, said. Kurliansis is also the CEO of ELTA.
According to unofficial sources, Ziniu Partneriai shows Vitas Tomkus, the publisher of Respublika, among its co-owners. The data available from the Register of Legal Entities have shown that the company has been registered at the premises of Respublika. The company's CEO is Rimantas Kanapienis who has a record of work in mass media sector.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Tuesday, 6th of September

New discount stores in the market
Rimi Baltic, the retail operator controlled by Finland's Kesko and Sweden's holding ICA, aims to invest LTL 70 million into the expansion of its retail chain in Lithuania this year.
"These investments cover new hypermarket stores, real estate, renovation of certain stores and our new discount chain SuperNetto," Inga Skisaker, Rimi Baltic Lithuania's CEO, said.
The company aims to open four Rimi Hypermarket stores in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and Alytus this year. On September 9, the retail operator will inaugurate five new discount stores SuperNetto. The chain of SuperNetto stores will expand to at least 10 outlets in seven Lithuania's cities. In 2006 Rimi would add at least 20 stores to its new discount chain.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Jobless rate slips down
Lithuania's unemployment rate edged down to 4.3 percent in August from 4.5 percent in previous month. The rate declined by 2.1 percentage points from August 2004, as the number of the unemployed plunged by 32.2 percent. The number of officially registered unemployed people stood at 91,500 as of September 1, a decline of 3.5 percent from early August.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Snoras is negotiating over sale of leasing arm
Snoras, the fourth by assets Lithuania's commercial bank, has confirmed that it has launched talks with US company General Electric concerning the sale of its leasing arm Snoro Lizingas. Snoras is holding negotiations concerning the investments into the bank's leasing company Snoro Lizingas with GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric". The bank, citing the confidentiality arrangements, has refused to comment on details of talks while the negotiations were ongoing. GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric that is active in almost 50 markets, posted USD 2.52 billion in profit for 2004. Snoro Lizingas, which is 100 percent owned by Snoras bank, reported LTL 4.029 million in profit for 2004.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Monday, 5th of September

New plant in Kedainiai
Seba, a domestic construction firm, will build a new plant for Naturali Oda (Natural Leather), a leather processing company. The value of the project stands at LTL 13.5 million. The company expects to receive LTL 6.1 million from EU Structural Funds for the construction of the plant. The project should be completed in the summer of 2006. Naturali Oda employs about 50 people. It intends to create 30 new positions when the project is finished. Seba had been operating in Russia, Saratov since 1995, too.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Negotiations move from deadlock
Lithuania's officials expect to provide the government with draft agreements on the transfer of shares in Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil), the sole Baltic oil refining and transportation complex, in approximately a fortnight. On Friday the negotiators overcome the deadlock in talks with Yukos, the embattled operator of Mazeikiu Nafta.
"This was a technical discussion. Next week I hope to get the missing additional information, which is required for the talks to go ahead," Nerijus Eidukevicius, vice-Minister of Economy and head of Lithuania's group of negotiators, said.
Eidukevicius and Saulius Specius, an adviser to Prime Minister, contacted Yukos representatives by phone on Friday noon.
Eidukevicius confirmed, at the early stage of talks, Yukos had rejected the proposals of Viktor Uspaskich, then Economy Minister, that the Russian oil company should transfer to the government its first option to acquire almost 10 percent in Mazeikiu Nafta via a new share offering for USD 75 million.
If the talks end with success, the government's stake in Mazeikiu Nafta would decline by 21 percent, to 19.4 percent, from current 40.6 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios

Hansabankas is announced the best bank
Prominent banking edition The Banker has conferred the award of the Bank of the Year 2005 to Hansabankas, a member of largest Baltic finance group Hansabank. Hansabankas has focused its efforts on boosting income and efficiency, with the results that total income grew by almost 53 percent and the bank's and ROE was up 16 percent in 2004, The Banker has said.
Verslo Zinios

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