Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 39.2005

Saturday, 1st of October

5th T-Market store in Bulgaria
VP Market, the operator of the largest Baltic retail chain, has opened a new T-Market discount store in Bulgaria, its fifth retail outlet in the country. The store established in the capital of Sofia, covers the area of 700 square meters. VP Market currently operates 195 stores in Lithuania, 95 outlets in Latvia, 22 in Estonia, 8 in Romania, and 5 in Bulgaria. 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. VP Market reported sales LTL 4.16 billion in the three Baltic countries in 2004, up by 15.8 percent from 2003. It expects sales to grow by 15 percent, to LTL 4.8 billion this year.

More freight
Freight traffic on Lithuanian railroads increased in the first eight months of this year, as did the volume of goods moved by air, whereas cargo volumes at Klaipeda Port and the Butinge crude oil terminal declined in the reporting period. Rail freight volumes totalled 30.714 million tons during the eight-month period, a rise of 4.3 percent from the same period last year. In August alone, freight traffic increased by 10.1 percent, year-on-year, to 4.34 million tons. The total volume of cargo handled at the Klaipeda port and the Butinge terminal declined by 10 percent, year-on-year, to 17.44 million tons. In August alone, the handling made up 2.2 million tons, a drop of 6.2 percent from the year-earlier figure. Meanwhile, air cargo volumes surged 2.3 times to reach 6,210 tons, while total passenger numbers rose by 23.6 percent to 478,600. In August alone, cargo volume declined by 6.3 percent, year-on-year, to 283.6 tons, and the passenger flow increased by 6.3 percent, to reach 79,700.
Lietuvos Zinios

Retail sales advanced in the country
Retail sales in Lithuania went up to LTL 14.2 billion in the first eight months of 2005, 12.1 percent higher than they were in corresponding period of the previous year. In August, sales of the domestic retail companies increased 18.8 percent year-on-year. In January-August, the biggest upsurge (35.5 percent) was fixed for textile, clothes, and footwear retailers. The sales of the retailers offering non-food products, automobiles excluded, grew 16.3 percent at constant prices. Within this sector, sales advanced 19.5 percent for large companies (with over 50 employees), 16.7 percent for medium-sized firms, and 3.6 percent for small ones (with one to nine employees). The increase in the sales of retail companies offering foodstuffs was a few times slower and stood at 5.7 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 30th of September

Industrijos Garantas strengthens positions
Industrijos Garantas, a non-life insurance company that is a part of the concern Achemos Grupe, is increasing its authorised capital LTL 1.5 million to LTL 10.5 million through additional contributions. Arvydas Kostas Lescinskas, the head of Industrijos Garantas, said that the increased capital would allow the company to operate in the insurance market more actively and ensure the minimum guarantee fund of the company.
In January-August, the written premiums of Industrijos Garantas amounted to LTL 7.3 million, a 23 percent increase year-on-year. The company paid settlements worth LTL 2.3 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Ekspla expects LTL 4.4 million EU assistance
Ekspla, a Lithuanian manufacturer of lasers and other equipment and devises for scientific research, may expect LTL 4.4 million financing from the structural funds of the EU. The Lithuanian Economy Ministry received a recommendation of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency on Thursday to earmark to this company financial assistance available from the EU. Ekspla announced earlier of its plan to launch a LTL 7 million project in April next year. A new type laser sources for use in manufacturing industry could be offered to the global market after it is completed.
Lietuvos Rytas

Confidence in Lithuanian economy declines
The consumer confidence of Lithuanians concerning the improvement of the financial situation of their households went down in September. The number of survey respondents who expect the economic situation to worsen in the next 12 months went up from 21 to 31 percent. Compared to August, a decrease was also recorded in the share of people who were optimistic about the unemployment rate in the future. Nearly 23 percent of the respondents stated that the financial situation of their households had improved in the past 12 months, 20 percent said it had worsened, and 57 percent did not notice any change. In August, these figures were 25, 20, and 55 percent respectively. 54 percent of residents said they expected no changes in the financial situation of their households in the next twelve months.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Thursday, 29th of September

Poor-sighted will be able to create websites
Lithuanian Association of the Blind and Visually Handicapped in cooperation with IT group Penki Kontinentai has established an IT company Etalinkas, which will employ blind or weak-eyed people. The new company, which will kick off operations in mid-October, will render IT consulting, web project and Internet design services and trade in hardware. The project has been financed with PHARE 2002 funds. The company will employ six visually handicapped programming engineers and IT experts, all aged 20-30.
Lietuvos Rytas

Snoro Lizingas enters Latvia
Snoro Lizingas, the leading arm of Snoras, the fourth largest Lithuania's commercial bank, intends to offer leasing services in Latvia in 2006. The decision to enter the neighboring market was taken after Snoras had purchased the majority holding in Latvijas Krajbanka, which operates the leading Latvia's banking chain that would be used to render Snoras' leasing services.
"I hope that Snoras, the key shareholder of Latvijas Krajbanka, will find ways to render leasing services in Latvia. We are the leaders on Lithuania's retail leasing market, and we hope to become the leaders in Latvia as well," Aurelijus Sveikauskas, Snoro Lizingas CEO, said.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Expenses of tourists
Lithuanian tourists spent LTL 683.7 million on holidays and leisure, including shopping, abroad in the first half of this year, 51.5 percent more than in the same period a year ago. The total expenditure abroad by Lithuanian residents, including business trips, amounted to LTL 1.02 billion, up 5.6 percent year-on-year. The average spending by Lithuanian tourists reached LTL 1,300 per capita, while the average duration of trips was 9.3 days. A total of 597,900 tourists travelled abroad during the first half of this year, 1.4 percent more than a year earlier. The number of men fell by 1.4 percent to 397,200, while the number of women rose by 7.4 percent to 200,700.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 28th of September

FDI flow down by 56 percent
The foreign direct investment flow made up LTL 617 million in Lithuania in the first six months of 2005, a drop of 55.9 percent compared to the same period in the preceding year. The subsidence of the foreign direct investment flow in January-June of 2005 resulted mainly from a slump in the flows of reinvestments and other capital. In the first half of the year, the biggest share of the direct foreign investments went to the manufacturing industry, LTL 319.5 million, financial intermediaries, LTL 263.7 million, and operations related to supplies of electricity, water, and natural gas, LTL 109.9 million, wholesale and retail sector, LTL 14.5 million.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Jobless rate declines
Average jobless rate stood at 8.5 percent in Lithuania in the second quarter of 2005 and was the lowest in the decade, the country's Statistics Department has announced citing the results of the latest survey. A year ago the average jobless rate in the country was 11.3 percent. Amid the rise in emigration and stronger increase in manufacturing and services sectors, the number of job seekers plunged by 25.5 percent or 46,700, year-on-year, to reach 136,700 in the April-to-June.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Insurer Cardif to expand to the East
The Polish life insurer Cardif Polska, owned by the French insurance group Cardif, is set to enter the Lithuanian and Latvian markets and also has plans to expand its operations into other former Soviet republics, including the Ukraine, in the future.
Cardif Polska Executive Director Jan Emeryk Rosciszewski was quoted in the Polish media as having said that the company would provide life insurance services in Lithuania and Latvia through local units.
The deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Insurance Supervisory Commission, Marijus Juris Mikalauskas, said that they did not have any information as yet about the Polish company's plans in this country.
Currently, there are two Polish-controlled life insurance companies in Lithuania, Commercial Union Lietuva Gyvybes Draudimas and PZU Lietuva Gyvybes Draudimas. Amplico Life, another Polish insurer, has a branch here. Royal Polska provides life insurance services in Lithuania on a cross-border basis.
Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 27th of September

Vilniaus Vingis looks for alternatives
The Lithuanian deflection yoke manufacturer Vilniaus Vingis, which has been operating in the red this year, is establishing two subsidiary companies. One of the subsidiary companies, Vilniaus Vingio Gija, will be engaged in molding of plastic parts, machining and stamping, and electroplating operations, and the other, Vilniaus Vingio Mechanika, will design and manufacture tools and equipment for various purposes. Vilniaus Vingis announced to the Vilnius Stock Exchange that its management board took the decision to establish the two subsidiaries last Friday. The new companies, both 100 percent owned by Vilniaus Vingis, will start operating on January 1, 2006 and will perform the functions of three current divisions of the company, Gija, Maga and Irankiu Gamyba.
"We have announced that we are diversifying our production. We will work in the directions where we are stronger and where we can achieve more efficiency by spinning off assets to give them more autonomy," Vilniaus Vingis CEO Vaclovas Sleinota, said.
The company also has signed a preliminary agreement with Olho-Technik of Germany about the production of ashtrays for cars. The Lithuanian company has already received equipment and material from Olho-Technik for ashtray production.
Vilniaus Vingis posted losses of LTL 1.468 million for the first half of this year, versus a net profit of LTL 4.389 million a year ago. First-half sales slumped by 32.2 percent year-on-year to LTL 47.2 million.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Ekranas is behind schedule
Ekranas, the only producer of television picture tubes in the Baltic States, has fallen behind schedule setting into motion its third production line. The company has cited the lack of workers as the major reason for this setback.
"We have not succeeded in finding workers, which is why the launch of another line is late," Angelija Zokaitiene, the spokeswoman of Ekranas, said.
The electronics company needs an additional 300 people to put the third line in operation. Ekranas now employs 3,700 people.
Eimutis Zvybas the chief executive of Ekranas, earlier said that the new line would begin operating on September 20. The agenda included the admission of an additional 500 workers. The new line is now scheduled to begin operating on October 1. The annual output capacity of each manufacturing line at the company is 1.5-1.7 million picture tubes.
"Ekranas is boosting production capacity in both operating picture tube lines. There has been some recovery in the market following the fair in Berlin," the spokeswoman of the company said.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

New tender for windmill construction
Lietuvos Energija has announced a new tender for companies bidding to construct windmills. These facilities will be connected to the Klaipeda-Pagegiai power transmission line. In this area, the total capacity of windmills at one connection point shall be no less than 6 MW and no higher than 40 MW. The company has set a November 24 deadline for applications. The name of the winner will be revealed on December 15.
Vladas Paskevicius, the chairman of the tender and the energy network director of Lietuvos Energija, said that the company is holding the fourth tender for builders of windmills. By the end of 2006, there will four more tenders of such kind. Lietuvos Energija is holding the tenders for windmills as operator of the national power transmission grid.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Monday, 26th of September

The Lithuanian State Department of Tourism intends to invest more funds in the promotion of Lithuania in 2006. The budget of the department stands at about LTL 6.5 million for the next year, a 23 percent increase since this year when it came it at LTL 1.2 million.

Cargo volume grows
Lithuanian companies handled 52.6 million tons of freight in the first half of 2005, a year-on-year rise of 10.9 percent. The shipments transported by road carriers constituted 51.7 percent of the total cargo. Rail shipments accounted for 42.8 percent, sea shipments 5 percent and inland water shipments 0.5 percent of the total. The freight handled by Lithuanian air companies made up 0.01 percent of all shipments in the first half-year of 2005.
The cargo volume of Lithuanian airlines went up 2.6 times to 5,500 tons. Domestic road carriers increased their operations by 18.7 percent to 27.2 million tons; inland water carriers boosted the amount 12.4 percent to 272,000 tons; sea shipments grew 8.8 percent to 2.6 million tons and the amount of freight handled by the railroad Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai advanced 2.9 percent to 22.5 million tons.
Kauno Diena

Snaige moves main office to Vilnius
Refrigerator maker Snaige, wh
Color ich is operating manufacturing units in Alytus and Kaliningrad, has confirmed an earlier profit forecast but anticipates lower sales than projected in 2005.
"We are not changing the estimate of consolidated profit, which we hope to meet. Sales in Russia are growing, as we reached a breakthrough there in the previous spring - we are happy with both sales and profits,” Giedrius Barysas, the chairman of Snaige, said.
However, he admitted that the plant in Kaliningrad, Russia, took more time than expected to start normal operations, which is why it might fall short of the consolidated sales forecast.
An annual forecast of pre-tax gain of Snaige makes up LTL 26.4 million.
Barysas also revealed that the refrigerator plant expected to move management of the company to Vilnius. "We want to have the sales in Russia, the Techprominvest-operated plant in Kaliningrad and the unit in Alytus run by one person,” Barysas said.
Verslo Zinios

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