Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 3.2006

Saturday, 21st of January

Ministry sees inflation complying with Maastricht criterion
Lithuania will comply with the Maastricht inflation criterion, the key factor for the adoption of euro, in mid-2006, the Ministry of Finance has projected. In April the annual inflation in Lithuania would average at some 2.6 percent, close to the Maastricht criterion projected for that month. According to the estimations of the ministry, the average annual inflation of the latest eight-month period, made up 2.4 percent and was 0.2 percentage points below the expected Maastricht criterion, which was 2.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the analysts of SEB Vilniaus Bankas, the largest Lithuania's commercial bank, warned that the prospective indexes of Maastricht and Lithuania's inflation brought no respite.
"If the decision over Lithuania's accession to the euro zone was to be taken today, and EU Monetary Policy Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has confirmed that, Lithuania failed to meet that criterion in December - the average harmonized index of consumer prices for the last twelve-month period was 2.7 percent, while the Maastricht criterion was 2.5 percent," Alge Budryte, chief analyst of the bank, said.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Lithuanian launches imports of natural gas from Latvia
Gripped by a cold snap and facing a slight drop in pressure in the gas pipelines, Lithuania launches the imports of natural gas from Latvia on Friday.
"We are already making arrangements with the Latvians, and we will start receiving gas from that source at approximately 4 p.m. However, it does not mean that the supply to gas consumers will increase - we need to sustain the system since the pressure in the pipelines has dropped. Moreover, private households have increased the consumption of gas, and we cannot reduce the supply to these users," Sigita Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene, spokesman for Lietuvos Dujos, the largest Lithuania's gas imports and transportation company, said.
Lithuania will import approximately 1 m3 per day from the Inculkans underground storage facility in Latvia during the period of arctic temperatures. Russia's gas giant Gazprom currently supplies some 13 million cubic meters per day to Lithuania.
Lietuvos Zinios

The steepest rise of producer prices – in Lithuania
According to the statistical data, the biggest producer prices jump in the Baltic States was registered in Lithuania in 2005. Lithuanian industrial production prices grew 13.5 percent in December 2005, year-on-year, while in Latvia the prices advanced 7 percent and in Estonia – only 2.2 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 20th of January

Fins are interested in investing into hi-tech development
Finland is interested in investing in the development of high technologies in Lithuania.
Pertti Huuskonen, president of Finland's Technopolis, one of the biggest technology center operators in Europe, met with the Lithuanian Economy Ministry officials in Vilnius on Thursday to discuss investment possibilities. The Finns are particularly interested in the Sunrise Valley knowledge economy cluster project in Vilnius.
"They would invest not only in the physical infrastructure, but would also provide know-how for managing and developing science and technology parks," Sunrise Valley director Andrius Bagdonas said.
Lietuvos Rytas

Visa card issuance up 20 percent
The number of Visa cards issued in Lithuania reached 1.96 million as of late September 2005, a rise of 20.1 percent from the same period a year ago.
The number of Visa debit cards increased by 19.7 percent to 1.9 million, while the number of credit cards surged by 91 percent to 17,000. Visa transactions accounted for 11.6 percent of all personal spending in Lithuania in the year to September 30, 2005. This was the second highest rate in the new EU member states after Estonia's 12.2 percent.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Investments into Klaipeda seaport
Up to LTL 2 billion is to be invested in the Klaipeda State Seaport in the years 2007-2013. The government's Transit Commission approved the port's 2007-2013 investment program on Thursday. These funds will come from the EU, the state and the port itself and will go toward developing and modernizing the port's infrastructure and enhancing its security. The projects include the expansion of quays and deepening of port waters, reconstruction of port access roads, and construction of a cargo-passenger ferry terminal by 2010. The modernization of the port is expected to help attract more cargoes and improve the quality of passenger services. The port receives over 7,000 ships from 45 countries and handles more than 20 million tons of cargo annually.
Lietuvos Zinios

Thursday, 19th of January

Lithuanian-developed tool wins prestigious award
MagicDraw UML, a modelling tool that is being developed by Lithuania's Baltijos Programine Iranga (BPI), has won the Readers' Choice Award of Java Developer's Journal (JDJ) in the best database tool or driver category. The company said MagicDraw UML outperformed data modelling tools from such giants as Oracle, IBM and Computer Associates.
"This award is further evidence that our investments and persistent work toward creating the fastest and most standards compliant architecture modelling tool are paying off," BPI product manager Mindaugas Ringys said.
MagicDraw UML won the award by a wide margin over Oracle JDeveloper and IBM Rational Rose Data Modeler.
Kauno Diena

SEB Vilniaus Bankas named best foreign exchange bank in Lithuania
SEB Vilniaus Bankas, the country's largest bank, has been named Best Foreign Exchange Bank by the Global Finance magazine for the third year in a row. SEB Vilniaus Bankas is owned by the Swedish SEB Group. Global Finance assesses the performance of financial institutions in the global foreign exchange market, where the average daily turnover reaches an estimated USD 2 trillion, annually. The main criteria for selecting the winners include transaction volume, market share, scope of global coverage, customer service, competitive pricing and innovative technologies.
Deutsche Bank was named this year's Best Foreign Exchange Bank in the world. Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Gas supply in Lithuania is stable
Though Russian gas concern Gazprom announced that it is forced to reduce natural gas exports to Europe due to hard frost in Russia, the gas is supplied to Lithuania currently without disorders.
“Our system operates normally following the agreement with Gazprom. We have not received information about possible gas supply reductions so far,” Sigita Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene, spokeswoman of Lietuvos Dujos, said.
Representatives of other gas importers – Dujotekana and Achema – yesterday also claimed that gas was supply normally.
3.1 billion m3 of gas were imported to Lithuania last year.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 18th of January

Sales of Stora Enso Miskas surge 29 percent in 2005
Stora Enso Miskas, the leading Lithuania's timber company controlled by international group Stora Enso, posted LTL 111 million in sales for full 2005, a surge of 29 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 86 million. The purchase of timber by the company expanded by 5 percent, year-on-year, to reach 680,000 cubic meters. Audrius Mikalauskas, CEO of Stora Enso Miskas, attributes the growing turnover to the increasing demand of timber. Nevertheless, the growth of the purchased timber was lower than it was projected due to hurricane Erwin in Sweden.
Verslo Zinios

Lithuania expecting Latvian and Estonian support to new nuclear plant
The Lithuanian government expects that Latvia and Estonia will assist in the construction and maintenance of the new nuclear power plant, if Lithuania decides to build one. Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas hopes to hear such position of the neighbouring countries in a large international energy conference to be held in Vilnius next week. The international conference on development and supplies of the electric energy market in the Baltic Sea region is scheduled take place on January 26-27.
Asked about the Brussels' position that Lithuania has no opportunity to renegotiate for postponement of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant's second reactor decommissioning, Brazauskas replied that talks are yet to be opened.
Lietuvos Zinios

Lithuanian consumer prices seen rising 0.5 percent in January
Consumer prices in Lithuania should edge up by 0.5 percent in January, Lithuania's Statistics Department has projected. Clothing and footwear is the only group to show a decline in prices, mostly due to the sales season. Meanwhile, the rise in gas prices has led to an increase in accommodation costs, prices of utilities. The prices of household equipment move up on the back of introduction of a new disposal tax.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 17th of January

VP Market raises sales to EUR 1.5 billion in 2005
VP Market, the largest retailer in the Baltics, posted sales of EUR 1.502 billion for 2005, a rise of 24.7 percent from sales of EUR 1.204 billion in 2004. VP Market CEO Gintaras Marcinkevicius said the group's annual sales were higher than planned.
"Last year was successful for us. We not only achieved our sales goals, but also exceeded them. We continued our expansion not only in Lithuania, but in Estonia and Latvia as well, and entered the Romanian and Bulgarian markets, where we now have 18 new stores in total," he said.
VP Market is targeting a 20 percent growth in sales this year.
It currently operates 195 stores in Lithuania, 100 in Latvia, 26 in Estonia, ten in Bulgaria and eight in Romania.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Sales of Olifeja are down 2.4 percent in 2005
Olifeja, the leading lottery operator in Lithuania, posted a turnover of LTL 92.144 million for full 2005, a decline of 2.4 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 94.363 million.
Donatas Kazlauskas, Olifeja deputy CEO, attributed the decline to the termination of lottery Kas Laimes Milijona (Who Will Win a Million) after the expiry of respective license, and the continuing decrease in domestic population.
Lietuvos Rytas

Limarko buys the second ship
Lithuania's Limarko Shipping Company has successfully completed the second acquisition of a motor ship this year. It became the full owner of the refrigerator vessel, Pluto, after signing a deed of transfer in London on January 13. This follows the acquisition of the first ship, Uranus, earlier this month. The company said it had invested over LTL 51 million in the two vessels. Limarko Shipping President Vytautas Lygnugaris said that the company intended to continue investing in the modernization and expansion of its fleet.
"This year, we are planning to buy one or two more dry cargo vessels. We expect that the company's total investment in the fleet modernization this year will be twice as high as in 2005," he said in a statement.
Verslo Zinios

Monday, 16th of January

Lithuania ranks 19th among EU states by innovations
Lithuania has been ranked 19th among 25 EU Members in terms of innovations, although it managed to surpass neighbouring Latvia in the ranking. Yet, Lithuania, Latvia and seven other EU members were put into the "catching up" group of members, while Estonia and six other countries were in the "losing ground" group.
Lietuvos Zinios

Nordea Bank Lietuva lifts earnings
Nordea Bank Lietuva, a unit of leading Nordic and Baltic financial group Nordea, reported LTL 3.867 million in unaudited net earnings for full 2005, a surge of 24 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 3.115 million. The Lithuania's unit of Nordea, which was set up back in 2000, posted annual profit for the second consecutive year in 2005.
"Last year was the most successful in the bank's history on Lithuania's market. This year we will seek to strengthen our positions in the SME sector and speed up our expansion through the opening of new units in regions. Moreover, the bank aims to offer new services and products to the market in the nearest months," Steen Trondhjem Nielsen, Nordea Bank Lietuva CEO, said.
The assets of the bank surged by 112.5 percent, to LTL 2.861 billion over 2005. The loan portfolio soared by 117 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 2.104 billion, while the amount of deposits and letters of credit expanded by 85 percent, to reach LTL 822 million.
Verslo Zinios

Army raises profits of producers
Lithuanian army has announced it signed agreements worth more than LTL 16 million with 9 country’s trade and industrial companies for 2006. Vilniaus Duona Plius, which will supply the army bakery products, received the biggest order worth LTL 3.88 million. Milk-processor Zemaitijos Pienas will supply the army with diary products for LTL 2.96 million. Four companies will supply fruit and vegetables. The value of the latter agreement amounts to LTL 3.69 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

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