Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 46.2005

Saturday, 19th of November

ConocoPhillips does not withdraw
ConocoPhillips' chairman said on Friday he was confident that the US oil company would acquire Mazeikiu Nafta, Lithuania's sole oil refinery, in partnership with Russia's oil giant Lukoil.
"We hope that our bid will be accepted and we'll be able to buy the shares," ConocoPhillips' chairman James Mulva said after meeting with Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas in Vilnius on Friday.
Mulva confirmed that ConocoPhillips and Lukoil had submitted a joint bid for Yukos' stake in the Lithuanian oil refinery. He said the price offered for the shares was "really competitive", but gave no details, citing confidentiality restrictions.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Kauno Diena

Urge to boost spending
Lithuania's parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee has urged the Government to raise public spending as scheduled in the draft budget of 2006 by LTL 116.547 million, or 0.6 percent of total spending set at LTL 20.441 billion for the coming year.
The committee issued its recommendations after the final evaluation of requests submitted by individual MPs and parliamentary committees concerning the more generous funding of various areas.According to the data made available by the budget committee, individual MPs, parliamentary committees and various institutions have proposed to raise the spending by a total of LTL 2.903 billion, or 14.2 percent of total spending projected for 2006.
Lietuvos Rytas

Lithuanian starts negotiations with Yukos
Talks between negotiators of the Lithuanian government and Yukos, the beleaguered Russian oil giant, over a majority stake in Mazeikiu Nafta are expected to begin on Saturday. Economy Minister Kestutis Dauksys, who heads the Lithuanian negotiating team, confirmed that a meeting with Yukos CFO Bruce Misamore was scheduled for Saturday. "It will be an organizational meeting," he said.
Government officials could not say at this point how Lithuania will be represented during a hearing on November 21 in an Amsterdam court. The court will investigate the claim of creditors concerning the stock that the Russian company YUKOS holds in the Lithuanian oil refinery Mazeikiu Nafta. Dauksys says that the Lithuanian negotiators who went to Amsterdam are unlikely to have hired lawyers by Friday to represent the national government in this hearing. The government is seeking to contract Dutch lawyers because, in accordance with the legislation of the Netherlands, only local lawyers can be counsels to parties in a court of law. It is expected that the decision on the YUKOS-owned majority share in Mazeikiu Nafta might come next Monday.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Kauno Diena

Friday, 18th of November

Housing loans boost insurance market
The Lithuanian housing loans market continues its dynamic growth; in the previous year, it advanced 80 percent to LTL 3.4 billion. The same pace of development is forecast for this year. For the past three years, the increase in housing loans has been accompanied by nearly 25 percent annual growth in the property insurance market. This is because people who secure a loan to buy dwellings are required to buy insurance.
"Over the past three years, the real estate insurance market has constantly been growing. Part of this growth resulted from the boom in using loans to acquire real estate. Since domestic banks have very ambitious plans for their loan portfolios, this incentive is also likely to fuel the growth of the insurance market in the future - no less than 20 percent every year," Birute Plusciauskiene, director of the Property Insurance Department of the insurance company Ergo Lietuva, said.
According to the expert, people buying insurance for dwellings they acquired long ago are also making a more visible contribution to the growth of this market.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

EC forecasts GDP growth by 7 percent
The European Commission forecasts that Lithuania's GDP growth will reach 7 percent this year, but fall to 6.2 percent in 2006 and slow further to 5.8 percent in 2007. In its April report, it estimated that the country's economy would expand by 6.4 percent this year and 5.9 percent next year. The commission indicated that internal demand would remain the main mover of the economic development in 2006. Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Klaipedos Smelte will purchase two cranes
Klaipedos Smelte, a Lithuanian stevedoring company, has reported about its acquisition of two state-of-the-art mobile cranes. A Croatian vessel on Wednesday ferried the two cranes, made by Austrian producer Liebherr, to Klaipeda from Antwerp. Klaipedos Smelte reports that it has invested more than LTL 20 million in the acquisition, delivery and assembly of the new equipment. The Lithuanian company is set to inject an additional LTL 15 million in its container site.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Thursday, 17th of November

0.2 percent inflation is projected for November
Lithuania's Statistics Department, eyeing the rise in the prices of foodstuffs, clothing and footwear, is projecting a 0.2 percent increase in consumer prices for November.
"There should be no major fluctuations, while the prices of foodstuffs, clothing and footwear might show a seasonal rise, which will have the key impact on the consumer price index (CPI). Moreover, transport goods and services, fuel prices in particular, may also affect the inflation rate," said Almantas Danilevicius, chief expert with the department's econometric research unit.
In October the CPI rose by 0.6 percent although the department projected a 0.2 percent increase. Last month, compared with October 2004, consumer prices in the country surged by 3.1 percent, while the average annual inflation was 2.7 percent. Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Snoras posted LTL 33.561 million profit
Snoras, Lithuania's fourth-biggest bank by assets, reported a net profit of LTL 33.561 million for the first ten months of this year 2005, more than double the profit of around LTL 15.1 million a year earlier. Net profit for October reached LTL 3.1 million.
"All major performance indicators for the ten months reflect the bank's dynamic growth. The bank's development and expansion strategy has been producing excellent results," Naglis Stancikas, director of Snoras' Financial Management Service, said.
Snoras projects LTL 40 million in annual profits.
The bank's assets reached LTL 2.544 billion at the end of October, up 33.7 percent compared with the start of the year. Deposits increased by 31 percent to LTL 1.86 billion.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Lithuanian Post will be reorganised
The Lithuanian Post Office will soon be reorganised. Jonas Salavejus, the director-general of the company, said this year is the last one that Lithuanian Post will work as a state-owned company. On January 1, 2006 it will be reorganised into a joint stock company. The new status will create legal grounds for the company to organise the postal services more effectively and streamline the use of the real estate it owns. The company will not change the nature of its activities, however.
Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 16th of November

UK is No 1 destination for Lithuanian air passengers
Lithuania has recorded strong growth in air passenger traffic this year, with the United Kingdom being the number one destination for air travel. The United Kingdom accounted for 13.9 percent of all passengers flying from and to Lithuanian airports during the first nine months of this year. Germany was the second most popular destination, accounting for 13.4 percent of all passenger traffic, followed by Denmark with 11.8 percent and Ireland with 6.6 percent.
A total of 1.096 million passengers went through the international airports of Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga and Siauliai in January-September, up 32 percent from the same period a year ago. The airports in Vilnius and Palanga ended the nine-month period with a profit, while Kaunas Airport, from which the Irish budget carrier Ryanair began flights to London in September, posted losses.
Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Construction sector surges 17.3 percent
Lithuanian builders carried out construction work for a total of LTL 3.989 billion during the first nine months of 2005, a rise of 17.3 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 3.4 billion, the Statistics Department has reported citing preliminary estimations. New construction accounted for 42 percent of total construction works carried out in the country in the nine-month period. Repairs and reconstruction comprised 30 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
Lietuvos Zinios

Sanitas bids highest price for stake in Jelfa
Sanitas, the largest Lithuania's pharmaceutical producer active on the generic drugs market, has bid the highest price for a 47.83 percent stake in Poland's pharmaceutical company Jelfa and will be invited for negotiations. Sanitas has confirmed officially that its price bid in the Jelfa tender was the highest. However, the winner of the tender still needs the approval from the sellers of the stake. The Lithuanian pharmaceutical company has refused to disclose the amount it has bid for the stake in Jelfa.
"We have provided the organizers of the tender with all required information about the financing of Jelfa's purchase transaction," Saulius Jurgelenas, Sanitas CEO, said. Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 15th of November

Five banks to finance renovation of apartment houses
Five Lithuania's commercial banks, including SEB Vilniaus Bankas, Snoras, Siauliu Bankas, Parex and Sampo, will finance the renovation of apartment houses through the loans to be extended to the apartment house owners' communities under favourable terms and conditions. For this year the need in investments is some LTL 8 million, and the demand is rising with more and more people wishing to renovate the buildings. The assignations for the apartment house renovation program as set out in the national budget of 2005 make up some LTL 3 million. Next year the amount should rise to approximately LTL 7 million. The program of apartment house renovation stipulates the upgrade of houses built before 1993. The state will cover up to 30 percent of overall program costs. Apartment houses are currently home to some 66 percent of domestic population.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Power grid operators pledge to leave electricity prices intact for end users
The retail price of electricity for end users will remain unchanged from January, the electricity tariffs, confirmed by the boards of two Lithuania's power grid operators - Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai (RST) and Vakaru Skirstomieji Tinklai (VST) - have evidenced. The State Control Commission for Prices and Energy is expected to make a decision concerning the electricity prices on November 22, following a review and examination.
The sole unit of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) would be shut down for 80-day maintenance in July-to-September period of 2006. However, Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy), the power utility, vows to purchase electricity at lower prices during that period. The prices of electricity for all users were last raised in January 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Advertising revenues grow
Advertising revenues of Lithuania's radio and TV broadcasters made up LTL 127.345 million in the first nine months of 2005, a rise of 5.9 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 120.284 million. The advertising revenues of radio broadcasters declined by 2.2 percent, to LTL 18.228 million in the reporting period, while the respective revenues of TV broadcasters increased by 7.4 percent, to reach LTL 109.117 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Monday, 14th of November

Sanitas expects to boost sales
The biggest Lithuanian medicine producer Sanitas plans to increase sales in the Czech and Slovakian markets next year and intends to introduce new products to East markets in 2007. Sanitas is to introduce several products to the Eastern markets that will not have big competition. If Sanitas manages to acquire Polish drug producer Jelfa, Lithuanian plant expects to capture some 15-20 percent in each medicine group in Poland and earn around EUR 5-6 million annual income.
Kauno Diena

Lithuania selected banks for Eurobond placement
Lithuania has selected Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank to lead-manage a 400-million-euro Eurobond placement in the first quarter of next year. The government intends to reopen its 11-year 600-million-euro Eurobond issue, which was placed earlier this year, to increase its size to a billion euros. The Finance Ministry said it had chosen Deutsche Bank and UBS from a list of 11 foreign banks competing for the mandate. It will be the government's second Eurobond issue to be quoted in the NewEMTS trading system.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Wurth opens new store in Kaunas
UAB Wurth Lietuva, controlled by world concern Wurth, opened the biggest store in Lithuania on Friday in Kaunas. It is the 17th centre in Lithuania. The main activities of Wurth Lietuva in the country are sales in high-tech tools, reinforcement components, chemical products and labour security means. The company projects a LTL 15 million turnover for this year.
Kauno Diena

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