Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 19.2006

Saturday, 13th of May

LAL load factor rises to 62.6 percent
Lietuvos Avialinijos (LAL), the biggest Lithuanian-owned air carrier, said its average passenger load factor rose by 9.5 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year to 62.6 percent. The strongest growth in load factor was registered on flights to London, up 36 percent to 60.2 percent, and Amsterdam, up 30.5 percent to 61.6 percent. As a result of reorganization, the number of flights declined by some 16.3 percent during the four months to 1,385, but the average number of passengers increased.
Lietuvos Zinios

New car registrations in Lithuania up 33 percent
A total of 5,297 new cars were registered in Lithuania during the first four months of this year, up 32.6 percent from 3,996 cars a year earlier, the market research company Autotyrimai said. Some 4,124 of the registered new cars were for personal use and 1,173 were for commercial use.
Volkswagen continued to top the rankings with 832 new car registrations in the four months. Toyota was second with 396 cars and Skoda was third with 394.
New passenger car registrations in Lithuania rose by 16.3 percent to 13,376 last year, up from 11,505 in 2004.
Lietuvos Zinios

Zemaitijos Pienas lifts net profit to LTL 1.163 million
Lithuanian dairy producer Zemaitijos Pienas reported a net profit of LTL 1.163 million for the first quarter of this year, up from LTL 762,000 a year earlier. Sales for the first quarter rose by 18.8 percent year-on-year to LTL 88.345 million. The dairy group posted a 20.3 percent growth to LTL 10.281 million in annual net profit last year, as sales went up by 9.2 percent to LTL 369.258 million. This year it targets a 5.6 percent growth in sales to LTL 390 million and has earmarked around LTL 25 million for investment, up from LTL 14.4 million in 2005.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 12th of May

Lithuanian insurance market forecast to grow 21 percent in 2006
The Lithuanian insurance market is forecast to expand by 20.9 percent to LTL 1.256 billion this year after recording a 13.4 percent growth to LTL 1.039 billion last year.
The Insurance Supervisory Commission (ISC) expects that the life insurance market will grow by at least 40 percent and that growth in the non-life insurance market will reach up to 15 percent, ISC vice-chairman Audrius Linartas said.
"Despite high growth rates, Lithuania's insurance market penetration rate is as low as 1.6 percent. In this respect, we rank last in the EU," Linartas said.
In his words, the country's insurance penetration rate is almost six times lower than the EU's average of 9.2 percent and more than nine times lower than the United Kingdom's penetration rate of 14.8 percent, which is the highest in the EU.
"The low insurance penetration level shows that the Lithuanian insurance market has a great potential. Therefore, growth rates should remain very high next year," the official said.
Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Lithuanian Airlines sale to FlyMe may fall through
The planned deal on the sale of Lietuvos Avialinijos (LAL) to Sweden's FlyMe Europe may fall through, as the owner of the Lithuanian airline is not happy with the terms offered by the potential investor. LAL Investiciju Valdymas (LAL Investment Management), LAL's sole owner that said earlier that it was only a financial investor, considers managing the airline on its own, LAL said on Thursday.
Arunas Griskenas, the airline's CEO, said that the terms offered by FlyMe Europe were not fully in line with LAL's expectations and its obligations under a privatization agreement.
"We do not rule out cancelling the negotiation agreement and putting the negotiations on hold for an indefinite period of time, unless the Swedish negotiators agree to improve the terms of their offer and of the share acquisition procedure," he added.
FlyMe Europe intends to initially buy a 33 stake in LAL and increase its holding to 100 percent in the future. The agreement that entitles the Swedish airline to purchase a stake in LAL has been extended until May 15.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Lukoil Baltija lifts sales to LTL 334.6 million
Lukoil Baltija, which operates the biggest chain of filling stations in Lithuania, posted sales of LTL 334.6 million for the first quarter of this year, a rise of 21.5 percent from LTL 275.4 million a year earlier. The company said it paid LTL 51.7 million in taxes to the state treasury during the three months. The company invested LTL 6 million in the reconstruction of petrol stations and car washes this year, two times more since 2005. Lukoil Baltija currently owns a chain of 115 stations across Lithuania and employs a workforce of 1,654 people.
Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Thursday, 11th of May

Lithuania's Q1 exports up 32 percent, imports up 38.5 percent
Lithuanian exports grew by 32 percent to LTL 9.004 billion in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, while imports rose by 38.5 percent to LTL 11.676 billion. The foreign trade deficit for the first quarter soared by 66.1 percent year-on-year to LTL 2.672 billion, according to preliminary data based on customs declarations and Intrastat reports. In March, exports increased by 36.1 percent from a year earlier, while imports surged by 49.3 percent. Month-on-month, exports rose by 19.1 percent, while imports were up 30.1 percent.
The country's biggest export partner was Russia, accounting for 10.2 percent of the first-quarter exports, followed by Latvia with 9.6 percent, Germany with eight percent and the US with 6.9 percent. Russia also topped the import rankings with 29.8 percent of total imports.
The EU accounted for 65.1 percent of Lithuania's total exports for January-March and 57.9 percent of its imports. Some 17.3 percent of exports were to the CIS markets, and 33 percent of imports were from those countries.
Kauno Diena, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Average annual inflation at 2.8 percent in April
Lithuania's average annual inflation in April was 2.8 percent, up by 0.2 percentage points compared with a year earlier. The consumer price index edged up by 0.7 percent in April from March and was up 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago. In April 2005, the month-on-month inflation was 0.4 percent and the year-on-year inflation was 3.2 percent.
The rising inflation this April was due to soaring oil prices and seasonal factors, such as an increase in clothing and footwear prices ahead of the new summer season and rising prices for vegetables before the new harvest season.
Lietuvos Rytas, Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios

Cold destroys 80 percent of rapeseed crops
About 80 percent of Lithuania's rapeseed crops were destroyed by the cold weather this past winter, while damage to wheat crops is still being assessed. The Agriculture Ministry presented the preliminary data to the parliament's Rural Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Lithuanian farmers had sown 43,000 hectares to rapeseed.
The ministry seeks to compensate farmers for the loss of yield due to the replanting of winter rapeseed with summer rapeseed, as well as plating expenses, which amount to almost LTL 200 per hectare.
Only 8,000-10,000 hectares of rapeseed crops were insured against natural calamities this year.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

Wednesday, 10th of May

Lithuanian beer market grows 6.5 percent
The Lithuanian beer market grew by 6.5 percent to 71.77 million litres in the first four months of this year, up from 67.39 million litres in the same period last year. In April, beer sales rose by 7.6 percent year-on-year to 21.51 million litres. Svyturys-Utenos Alus posted a seven percent growth in beer sales for January-April to 34.34 million litres. It held a 47.85 percent market share in the reporting period. Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe raised beer sales by 8.4 percent year-on-year to 17.31 million litres, which gave it a 24.12 percent market share. Ragutis reported a 7.5 percent rise in beer sales to 7.99 million litres and held an 11.13 percent market share.
Lithuania's breweries exported 3.38 million litres of beer in the first four months of this year, a rise of 25.7 percent year-on-year. Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe remained the number one beer exporter, with its beer exports for January-April more than doubling to 1.35 million litres. Gubernija's beer exports doubled to 1.17 million litres, while Svyturys-Utenos Alus' exports slumped by 46.8 percent to 820,000 litres.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

DrKW to coordinate study on new N-plant in Lithuania
London-based investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW) has been selected to coordinate a feasibility study for the construction of a new nuclear power reactor in Lithuania. DrKW will also provide assistance to the Project Financing Group. The Swiss consulting agency Colenco Power Engineering will advise the Technologies and Environmental Protection Workgroup, and the London unit of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will assist the Legal Issues Group. The heads of the three Baltic energy companies, Lietuvos Energija, Latvenergo and Eesti Energia, selected the advisors in Tallinn on Tuesday.
The workgroups are to perform the work under their competence by October 1 this year. The study, which may cost up to a million litas, is to be completed in the autumn of this year.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tax Freedom Day in Lithuania falls on May 11 this year
The symbolic Tax Freedom Day in Lithuania will come on May 11 this year, almost a week later than it did last year, according to the Free Market Institute's (FMI) calculation. The tax burden, calculated as a ratio of tax revenues to gross national product (GNP), is estimated to be 35.9 percent this year, up from 34 percent last year.
The increase in the tax burden is due to LTL 2.5 billion higher national tax revenues than in 2005, growing revenues of the Social Insurance Fund and the Mandatory Health Insurance Fund, and slower growth of GNP compared to growth of taxes, the FMI said.
This year, private individuals, business companies and organizations will have worked 131 days to pay their tax obligations.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Tuesday, 9th of May

E-banking usage in Lithuania soars 40 percent
Lithuanian commercial banks had 1.42 million internet banking users as of early April, up 40 percent from 1.012 million users a year earlier. Compared with the start of this year, when there were 1.31 million online users, the growth was eight percent.
"The first-quarter figures show that earlier forecasts for a slowdown in the growth of the number of internet banking users this year were correct," Paulius Krisciunas, director of the Electronic Banking Department at SEB Vilniaus Bankas, said.
In his words, the e-banking market has reached saturation point and banks are switching their focus on enhancing the quality and functionality of services, and on encouraging a more active use of those services among customers.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Lietuvos Energija boosts profit
Lithuania's state-run power transmission company Lietuvos Energija said its first-quarter net profit soared to LTL 14.999 million, up from LTL 1.935 million a year earlier.
The company's first-quarter pretax profit rose to LTL 23.1 million, up from LTL 5.8 million in the same period last year. EBITDA for the first quarter increased by 40.4 percent year-on-year to LTL 63.9 million. Revenues went up by 1.2 percent to LTL 243.4 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Losses of Alna
The losses of Lithuanian IT group Alna totalled LTL 1.6 million in 2005, a rise of 23 percent versus the 2004 losses of LTL 1.3 million.
"The losses came in on the back of last year acquisitions in Latvia and Estonia, expansion of Daily Service in those markets and investments into DocLogix," Justina Gumbiene, Alna CEO, said.
The consolidated turnover of Alna group came in at LTL 132 million in 2005, a rise of 17 percent versus 2004. Revenues on IT services alone surged by 20 percent, to LTL 70.3 million. Investments made up LTL 4.5 million last year.
For 2006 the group, which employed a workforce of about 700 in late March, is projecting some 20-25 percent rise in turnover.
Lietuvos Rytas

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