Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 49.2005

Saturday, 10th of December

Budget revenues above target
The Lithuanian central government collected LTL 11.111 billion in budget revenues during in the first 11 months of this year, LTL 777.2 million or 7.5 percent more than planned. Total revenues including EU support funds came to LTL 12.731 billion.
Budget revenues for November alone reached LTL 922.7 million, exceeding the ministry's target by LTL 121.9 million or 15.2 percent, according to preliminary estimates. Last month's total revenues including the EU money were LTL 994.9 million. The 2005 budget projects annual revenues of LTL 13.86 billion, including LTL 2.677 billion in EU assistance funds.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios

Lithuanian exports and imports increase
Lithuanian exports grew by 25.8 percent to LTL 26.364 billion in the first ten months of 2005 from a year earlier figure, while imports rose by 23.2 percent to reach LTL 34.422 billion. The foreign trade deficit widened by 15.3 percent year-on-year to LTL 8.057 billion in the reporting period. In October alone, exports surged by 22.9 percent from a year earlier, while imports went up by 29,9 percent. Compared with September, Lithuania's exports shrank by 0.7 percent, while imports firmed by 1.1 percent. The country's biggest export partner was Russia with 10.5 percent of total exports in the ten-month period, followed by Latvia with 10.1 percent, Germany with 9.5 percent and France with 7.2 percent.
Russia also topped the import rankings, accounting for 28.2 percent of total imports. Also on the list of major import partners was Germany with 15.3 percent, Poland with 8.3 percent, and Latvia with 3.8. The EU accounted for 66.3 percent of Lithuania's total exports and 58.8 percent of total imports. The CIS accounted for 17.7 percent of exports and 31.6 percent of imports.
Respublika

ConocoPhillips to try to talk to Lithuanian government once more
A senior executive of the US oil group ConocoPhillips, which has been removed by Yukos from the list of potential buyers of Mazeikiu Nafta, is coming to Vilnius next week to try and talk to the Lithuanian government once more. Mike Fretwell, ConocoPhillips' president for operations in the international oil sector, is to arrive in Vilnius on Monday to meet with Economy Minister Kestutis Dauksys, who heads the government's negotiating team, the Economy Ministry said on Friday. The visit was announced a day after the government said it was opening talks with Kazakhstan's state oil and gas company KazMunayGaz, one of the most likely buyers of Yukos' stake in the Lithuanian refinery.
Reportedly, ConocoPhillips and Lukoil, in a joint bid, and the British-Russian joint venture TNK-BP, seen as the government's preferred buyer, offered around USD 600-700 million for Yukos' 53.7 percent stake in the refinery, while KazMunayGaz bid about USD 1.2 billion dollars.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 9th of December

Lithuania's corporate profit margins largest among Baltic countries
Lithuania leads over Baltic countries in terms of profit margins of its companies, at approximately 8 percent. However, local companies are the most pessimistic among the Baltic countries in terms of expectations for the growth in their profit margins in the upcoming three-year period, the survey of international business consultancy KPMG has shown. Lithuania's companies expect their profit margins to rise by less than 1 percentage point in the upcoming three-year period. The companies in Latvia and Estonia are projecting the increase in excess of 2 percentage points. The survey has put the average corporate profit margins in Lithuania's manufacturing sector at 8.5 percent, chemical and processing - at 7.5 percent, electronics - 5 percent, and consumer goods - 4.5 percent. The average product quality assessment by Lithuania's companies is below that of Estonia's companies, although this index exceeds the respective rates by Latvia's and Central European companies. Exports of Lithuania's companies comprised 56 percent of total sales last year, up from 55 percent in 2003. Meanwhile, the average income per employee in Lithuania was the lowest among the Baltic countries both in 2003 and 2004. Last year the index for Lithuania was EUR 71,000.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios

Lithuania's GDP grows 6.9 percent
Lithuania's GDP grew by 6.9 percent in the first nine months of 2005, year-on-year, to reach LTL 51.407 billion, underpinned by continuing growth in the domestic market. In the third quarter, the economy expanded by 7.6 percent year-on-year to LTL 19.034 billion. The latest GDP growth figures are unchanged from the previous estimate in late October. Financial analysts say the economic growth is driven by a strong domestic market, while exports are held back by difficulties in the eurozone. All key sectors of the economy, with the exception of agriculture and mining and quarrying, contributed to the GDP growth in the third quarter.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

November CPI unchanged from October
Compared to October, the variation in the prices of consumer goods and services in Lithuania was zero in November. Average prices in November 2004 were 0.3 percent higher than they were in October 2004. The rate of inflation in November compared to the same month in the preceding year amounted to 2.8 percent. In November 2004, annual inflation was 3.0 percent. In November, the average annual inflation rate stood at 2.6 percent. This indicator stood at 0.9 percent in November 2004. Over the past month, the average price of consumer goods went down 0.1 percent, and services went up 0.3 percent. Prices advanced 0.9 percent for food and non-alcoholic beverages, 0.7 percent for goods and services related to accommodation, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel groups, and 0.8 percent for various goods and services. Prices for transport goods and services decreased 3.5 percent.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinio

Thursday, 8th of December

Ryanair launches new route from Kaunas to Stockholm
Ryanair, the Irish-based budget airline, is set to begin flights from Lithuania's second-biggest city of Kaunas to the Swedish capital of Stockholm in February. Karl Hogstadius, Ryanair deputy manager for the Nordic and Baltic regions, said the new route to Skavsta Airport, which is an hour's drive from Stockholm, would start on February 22 next year and would operate four times a week. Ryanair launched its first route in Lithuania, from Kaunas Airport to London Stansted, in late September. Hogstadius said the Kaunas-London route was profitable for the airline, with the load factor at 90 percent. Ryanair expects that the number of passengers on both routes will reach up to 160,000 by the end of next year.
Hungary's budget airline Wizz Air started flights from Kaunas to Warsaw on December 1. It also offers connections, via the Polish capital, to Paris, Liverpool, Dortmund, Malmo-Copenhagen, London and Stockholm.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Forex reserves down 3.6 percent in November
Lithuania's official international reserves shrank by LTL 383.4 million or 3.6 percent in November versus October, to reach LTL 10.383 billion, the central bank has reported.
The overall decline resulted on a net drop of LTL 187 million in central government deposits with the Bank of Lithuania and a decline of LTL 160.7 million in balances of credit institutions with the central bank.
Respublika

Euro info campaign to cost Lithuania EUR 5.2 million
The Bank of Lithuania is set to spend around LTL 18 million on a campaign to inform the general public of the planned introduction of the euro. The central bank intends to launch an 18-million-litas tender for development and implementation of the public information campaign. This project will not be financed from the EU's funds, according to the announcement.
Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 7th of December

Bankruptcies increasing in the country
The number of companies in Lithuania that have been declared bankrupt has risen this year. The majority of companies that have stopped operating are in the trade sector. According to the Ministry of the Economy, bankruptcy proceedings were launched for 577 companies from January to September this year. That is 12.7 percent more than the number of proceedings started in the same period of 2004. Companies in the trade sector account for 43 percent of all bankruptcies this year. This year an average of 64 companies stopped operating each month, compared to 57 companies last year and 49 companies two years ago. From the beginning of 1993 to 30 September this year, 4,308 companies and 14 commercial banks were declared bankrupt. Bankruptcy procedures have been completed for 2,969 companies (68.9 percent) and 12 commercial banks (85.7 percent).
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

GNT hardware wholesaler buys Santech Micro Group
GNT, the leading Finnish and Baltic hardware and household electronics wholesaler, has acquired Santech Micro Group (SMG) active on almost identical markets in Norway, Sweden and Finland. With the transaction complete, GNT will expand into Norway, strengthen up in Sweden and become the leader on the IT equipment wholesale market in Scandinavian and Baltic countries, GNT Lietuva, the GNT Lithuania's subsidiary, has announced.
Lietuvos Rytas'

PST launches EUR 6 million project in Kaliningrad
Panevezio Statybos Trestas (PST), one of the leading building companies in Lithuania, is launching a project worth an estimated LTL 20.5 million in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The company will build a refrigeration equipment plant in the Kaliningrad free economic zone under a contract with Denmark's C/O Caravelle.
"We would have entered Kaliningrad region earlier but we could not go ahead with one interesting project there," Dalius Gesevicius, CEO of the company, said.
PST was to begin construction on a 100-million-litas soybean oil production complex in Kaliningrad in June under a cooperation agreement with Sodruzhestvo-Soya. However, this agreement was cancelled by mutual consent of the parties. Under the contract with Denmark's C/O Caravelle, which was signed in November, PST will build a complex of administrative offices and production premises for a refrigeration equipment plant on an area of 10,000 m2. The plant will manufacture commercial refrigerators and freezers for ice cream, frozen vegetables and other products.
Verslo Zinios

Tuesday, 6th of December

Unemployment rate declines
Lithuania's unemployment rate reached 3.9 percent in November, unchanged from October and from the same period a year ago, the Labour Exchange said. The number of officially registered unemployed people was 81,600 as of December 1, a decrease of 0.7 percent, or 562 jobless, from a month earlier. The annual decline was 33 percent or 40,100 jobless. Local labour exchange offices registered 18,400 vacancies last month, down 4.8 percent from the previous month. The country's unemployment rate stood at 6.9 percent last year.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Standard & Poor raised credit ratings
Standard & Poor's raised its long-term foreign currency credit rating on Lithuania to A from A- on Monday. The short-term foreign currency rating was upgraded to A-1 from A-2.
"The upgrading of Lithuania's ratings proves once again that the government has set the right fiscal policy course and that great significance is given to the euro introduction," Finance Minister Zigmantas Balcytis said.
Standard & Poor's outlook for Lithuania is positive, which means that the ratings may be raised further in the near future. Fiscal prudence remains an important element of the country's macroeconomic policies. This year's public sector deficit is expected to be around 1 percent of GDP.
Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Niam Fund eager to plow EUR 200 million into Baltic real estate market
Niam Fund III, the leading Nordic assets management fund, aims to invest over EUR 200 million into the real estate market of the Baltic countries during upcoming several years. Niam has already acquired a logistics centre Rimi in Riga through its Niam III Holding subsidiary. Other investments will follow in Lithuania and Estonia, the company has announced.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Monday, 5th of December

Apranga boosts authorized capital
Apranga, the largest Lithuania's clothing retailer controlled by MG Baltic concern, aims to boost the authorized capital fourfold, to LTL 35.292 million with own funds and distribute the new shares among existing shareholders pro rata their respective stakes.
By late September, Apranga and Apranga group had LTL 33.421 million and LTL 37.528 million, respectively, in retained earnings. Apranga is projecting the pretax earnings of LTL 11 million on sales of LTL 200 million for full 2005.
Verslo Zinios

Postal services market advances
The Lithuanian postal service market grew 18.6 percent in the third quarter to LTL 38.71 million. In the second quarter of the year, growth stood at 4.36 percent. In July-September, the postal service segment increased 30.63 percent to LTL 20.33 million, and parcel delivery services grew 7.64 percent to LTL 18.39 million.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Talks with TNK-BP continue
Russian-UK oil concern TNK-BP aims to proceed with talks with Lithuania's government concerning the buying into Mazeikiu Nafta, the sole Baltic oil refining and transportation complex, although its admits that the process would not be easy. Although Yukos' advisers had rejected a bid by TNK-BP, the negotiators discussed the possibilities of the Russian-UK oil concern to make investments into Mazeikiu Nafta in Vilnius on Friday. The government has singled TNK-BP out as the most appropriate candidate to take over the control of Lithuania's oil complex. Krzysztof Zielicki, TNK-BP Vice-President said that he had not yet received any official confirmation about the company's removal from the list of candidates to buy Yukos' stake in Mazeikiu Nafta.
Verslo Zinios

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