Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 5.2005

Saturday, 5th of February

Beer market and exports grew in January
The Lithuanian beer market grew by 8.5 percent, to 14.54 million litres in the first month of 2005. Svyturys-Utenos Alus raised its January sales by 6.9 percent, to 6.69 million litres, from 6.26 million litres a year ago. Its share of the domestic beer market, however, slipped to 46.01 percent, from 46.72 percent in January 2004. Kalnapilis-Tauras Group ranked the second with January sales of 3.34 million litres, a rise of 3.7 percent, year-on-year. The brewery's market share eased by 1.06 percentage points from January 2004, to 22.97 percent. Ragutis raised its sales by 12 percent, to 1.59 million litres, putting the brewer in control of 10.94 percent of the market.
Lithuanian beer exports totalled 360,000 litres in January, surging by 50 percent from the first month of 2004. Svyturys-Utenos Alus raised its beer exports by 25 percent, year-on-year, to 250,000 litres of beer in January. Kalnapilis-Tauras Group, operated by Danish Brewery Group, ranked the second with 80,000 million litres in exports in January, a rise of 2.7 times from the first month of 2004. Exports by Siauliai-based Gubernija tripled to 30,000 litres. Bottled beer accounted for 280,000 litres, or 77.8 percent of total exports.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Turnover of PST surged by one-fifth
Panevezio Statybos Trestas (PST), the leading Lithuania's construction company, reported a turnover of LTL 160 million for full 2004, a rise of 17.6 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 136 million. PST reported a pre-tax profit of LTL 1.203 million for the first nine months of 2004, a rise of 13.7 percent from the year-earlier figure.
In January, Finnish-equity brokerage Suprema purchased 33.34 percent in PST from Mindaugas Vegele, CEO of Lithuania's brokerage Spekonis ir Gastonas. Following the transaction, PST share price on the bourse surged by some 50 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios

Loans
Manufacturing industries and wholesalers and retailers have the largest debts to the commercial banks of Lithuania. Based on figures of the central bank, the domestic commercial banks had issued LTL 3.281 billion worth of loans to manufacturing companies by the end of 2004. Loans in this sector advanced 13.9 percent over the past year. At the close of 2004, sellers owed banks a total of LTL 2.936 billion, 15.2 percent more than they owed in 2003.
Lietuvos Rytas

Friday, 4th of February

Nearly half of Lithuanians place most trust in Hansabankas
Almost a half of Lithuania's pop ulation has rated Hansabankas the most reliable bank in the country, the survey conducted by the market research group RAIT late in 2004 has shown. A total of 49.3 percent of respondents rated Hansabankas the most reliable bank on Lithuania's banking market. Vilniaus Bankas ranked the second with 19.2 percent of the polled, while Nord/LB Lietuva was the third with 9.2 percent. About 6.2 percent expressed trust in Snoras bank, while some 1.7 percent and 0.7 percent of respondents praised the reliability of Ukio Bankas and Siauliu Bankas, respectively.
In late 2004, over one-third of respondents (36.3 percent), who rated Hansabankas the most reliable bank, praised the institution for its attentiveness to customers. Almost one-fourth (24.2 percent) of that group of respondents singled this bank out as the most reliable recalling the positive experiences of their relatives and friends, who were the customers of the bank.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas

Hronas expanded salesroom network
The income of Hronas, a leading manufacturer of windows and facades in Lithuania, went up 28 percent to LTL 116 million in 2004. Last year, the production of Hronas stood at 243,000 square metres, a 24 percent increase from 2003. In 2004, Hronas opened 17 salesrooms that constituted 47-salesroom network by the end of the year.
Last year, the exports of Hronas amounted to LTL 10.9 million. Around 80 percent of production went to Denmark. In 2005, the company is going to take part in a large project in Denmark and try to get into other markets. The Hronas group also includes companies Altavis and Hrono Statyba.
Verslo Zinios

Leasing portfolio soared by 44.1 percent
The aggregate leasing portfolio of 12 companies, which are the members of the Lithuanian Leasing Association, reached LTL 3.887 billion as of late 2004, surging by 44.1 percent or LTL 1.19 billion during the year. The improvement in the performance of the Lithuanian leasing companies resulted from the improving economic situation in the country, increased domestic consumption, decreasing interest rates, and a wider range of the leasing services. The leasing market has been growing by 40-45 percent annually over the last 5 years. It is forecasted that the leasing portfolio is to surge by 30 percent to LTL 5 billion in 2005.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Thursday, 3rd of February

Gamblers left LTL 87 million in Lithuanian casinos in 2004
The Lithuanian gaming industry earned a total of LTL 87.341 million from gamblers in 2004, up from LTL 43.581 million in the previous year. Fifteen gambling operators posted a total of LTL 373.948 million in gaming revenues last year, of which LTL 286.61 million went back into the pockets of gamblers, the Lithuanian State Gaming Control Commission has said. Gamblers lost LTL 71.479 million to eight casinos operating in Lithuania last year, 79.1 percent more than in the previous year. Gamblers' losses at limited prize machines increased more than six times to LTL 8.83 million.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Cilija posted LTL 55.7 million turnover
Cilija, the operator of the largest Lithuania's chain of pizza restaurants, reported sales in Lithuania to soared by 50.1 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 55.7 million in 2004. Last November, Cilija set up a new coffee chain Cili Kava, and had already opened two cafes in Vilnius and Klaipeda. Moreover, Cilija have concluded a franchise contract.
For 2005, Cilija is projecting a nearly 40 percent rise in sales, versus 2004. The chain linked its prospective expansion in Latvia and Lithuania with franchise arrangements.
Cilija's chain in Lithuania includes fourteen pizza houses Cili Pica, four Lithuanian cuisine restaurants Cili Kaimas, two Chinese cuisine restaurants Cili Kinija, two snack bars Cili Express, three bistros Cili Bistro, two coffee outlets Cili Kava and Plento Baras, a bar in the outskirts of Vilnius.
Verslo Zinios

Assets of Nordea increase
Nordea Bank Lithuania, a subsidiary of Nordea, the largest financial services group in the Nordic and Baltic region, posted a net profit of LTL 3.115 million for 2004, marking its first profitable year since the launch of operations in this country. Nordea Bank Lithuania managed to trim its annual loss to LTL 0.941 million in 2003, from LTL 2.808 million in 2002.
"The bank consolidated its position in the retail banking market last year, with a particularly strong performance in housing loans. There is growing demand for cheap loans in the regions. This leads us to expect that the bank will continue to grow at a very fast pace in 2005," Steen Trondhjem Nielsen, CEO of the bank, said.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 2nd of February

Profits of pension funds melt after taxes
The new pension funds of Lithuania say they made profitable investments in the previous year, yet after taxes three quarters of their customers appeared to have saved less money than the amount remitted for them from the State Social Insurance Fund (SoDra). In the category of funds investing in government bonds, all pension funds made profitable investments, but after taxes only the small fund Medicinos Banko Investiciju Valdymas made a net profit. The savings of its customers increased 0.4 percent. The largest slump in customer savings after taxes was reported by Sampo Gyvybes Draudimas and Commercial Union Lietuva Gyvybes Draudimas. In the category of funds investing in stocks, Finastos Investiciju Valdymas recorded a growth of 36.3 percent in the savings of customers, and Sampo Gyvybes Draudimas reported a slump of 0.33 percent. Overall, the pension funds amassed LTL 127 million by the end of 2004.
Kauno Diena

VP Market expands to Romania and Bulgaria
VP Market, the largest retailer in the Baltics, said it is poised for further expansion into Eastern Europe after opening its first stores in Romania this year. The group also continues to streamline its management structure to support its growth strategy.
The retail network has been reorganized beginning January 1 2005. VP Market now manages four secondary companies: VP Market Latvia, VP Market Estonia, VP MARKET NDX in Romania, and VP Market Bulgaria.
VP Market's team, headed by Julius Numavicius, laid the groundwork for the chain's expansion into Romania in 2004. This year, the group has opened five discount stores there under the name of Albinuta (Little Bee).
VP Market posted sales of LTL 4.16 billion in 2004, up by 15.9 percent from LTL 3.59 billion in 2003, and is targeting a 15 percent growth in sales this year. The group has plans to open about 100 new stores in 2005 and has earmarked some 100 million euros for this purpose. It currently owns 195 stores in Lithuania, 86 in Latvia, 13 in Estonia, and 5 in Romania.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

27 bidders in windmill construction tender
Another 27 companies and private individuals have expressed their interest in building wind power facilities in Lithuania. The state-run power transmission company Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) last year invited tenders for expansion of energy generation capacities by building wind power plants with a capacity of up to 12 megawatts. The bids would be accepted from March 17 to 29, with the winning bidders to be announced by April 21. The winners will be issued permits to build wind power plants in any location in Lithuania, but they will have to be connected to the transmission grid. This is the third public tender for wind energy development. The two previous tenders, also announced last year, were for construction of wind power plants in the coastal area. As a result of the tenders, Vejo Elektra, Lariteksas and Achemos Hidrostotys have obtained permits to build 8-megawatt and 6-megawatt wind power facilities in the area between Sventoji and Lenkimai, and Veju Spektras has won a permit for construction in the area between Palanga and Sventoji. All of them intend to build the facilities by the end of this year.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 1st of February

Beer is the most popular among city residents
Almost three-fourths (71 percent) of Lithuanian residents drink beer, and 43 percent of those people do so at least once a month, a survey carried out by TNS Gallup, a Lithuanian market research institute, showed. 90 percent of the people who drink beer three or more times a week and 54 percent of those who drink beer one to three times a month are men. Most beer lovers are men, aged 25-45, living in cities, whereas men and women above 55 residing in rural areas tend to drink beer either less than once a month or not at all.
In 2004, the sales of the 9 breweries that belong to the Lithuanian Association of Breweries, reached 25.5 million dekalitres of beer, 5.4 percent more the amount they sold in 2003.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Passenger prefer planes
Lithuanian air carriers raised the total passenger flow by 48.1 percent, year-on-year, to 589,200 in 2004. Passengers on regular flights accounted for 75.9 percent of the total number, with the rest being carried by chartered aircraft, the country's Statistics Department has reported. Inbound passenger flow at Lithuanian airports grew by 37.9 percent year-on-year to 547,900, while outgoing passenger flow surged up by 39.9 percent to 553,200. The total number of aircraft handled at the airports increased by 22.8 percent to 34,500.
Verslo Zinios

Fiscal deficit stands at 2.4 percent of GDP
The deficit of the Lithuanian central government totalled LTL 1.486 billion in 2004. The ratio of this figure to the gross domestic product amounts to 2.4 percent. The revenues of the central government during the previous year reached LTL 17.96 billion, and expenditures amounted to LTL 17.876 billion, the Ministry of Finance has announced.
In December 2004, the deficit of the central government amounted to LTL 500 million, 0.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The total fiscal deficit of Lithuania is estimated to reach 2.5 percent of the GDP in 2005, a figure that the Baltic country is committed to observe in accordance with the revised Convergence Program.
Kauno Diena, Respublika

Monday, 31st of January

DHL Lietuva boosts turnover
Lithuania's express and logistics company DHL Lietuva reported sales above LTL 32 million for full 2004, a rise of 14.7 percent from the year-earlier figure. The company attributed the rise in turnover to improvements in business environment and successful completion of program on reorganization of companies DHL International Lietuva and Danzas, which had been merged into DHL Lietuva. For 2005 the company was projecting an even faster growth in sales. DHL Lietuva, which employs a workforce of 90, is a unit of international express and logistics company DHL, which is 100-percent owned Deutsche Post World Net.
Verslo Zinios

Heavy vehicle purchase by leasing gains popularity
Car market research company Auto Tyrimai said that 3,787 new heavy transport vehicles were sold in Lithuania last year by way of leasing. UAB VB Lizingas financed acquisition of 1,597 new trucks and trailers, UAB Hansa Lizingas funded purchase of 1,526 vehicles and UAB Nord/LB Lizingas – 326.
Verslo Zinios

VP Market to sell Russian dairy products
Dairy products of Russia's Wimm-Bill-Dann are expected to appear on the shelves of stores of VP Market, the largest retail chain in the Baltics, in February. Viktorija Jakubauskaite, VP Market's public relations officer, said that Wimm-Bill-Dann products have not been available at the chain's stores until now because the Russian company did not have the required permits. She said Wimm-Bill-Dann yogurts, sweet curd snacks and other dairy products should appear on the shelves at VP Market stores in February. Prices of these products will not be higher than those of dairy products, which are now available at VP Market stores. Wimm-Bill-Dann has been looking to enter the Lithuanian market since 2000, when it made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the now-bankrupt Birzu dairy.
Verslo Zinios

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