Observer "Lietuva"

Lithuania Business News: Archive 2003-

WEEK 6.2007

Saturday, 10th of February

January was favourable to beer makers
The biggest Lithuania’s brewery Svyturys-Utenos Alus sold 8.05 million litres of beer in January 2007, a rise of 19.3 percent since the same month a year ago.
“Warm January was favourable to brewers. We expect that the entire beer market soared by some 14 percent. The demand of strong alcoholic drinks should have declined. Consumers usually replace strong drinks with beer,” Rolandas Vrisilas, CEO of Svyturys-Utenos Alus, said.
According to Virsila, consumers bought more highest class light beer in January this year though they usually purchased more strong beer in winter.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika

Lithuanian allot more for life insurance premiums
Lithuanians allocated LTL 306 on average to life insurance services per month last year, up 2 times compared to 2005 when the average monthly life insurance premium amounted to LTL 143.
Mindaugas Jusius, director of Hansa Gyvybes Draudimas, says that the rise of premiums is related to the improving financial situation of Lithuanian citizens. In his words, people started perceiving life insurance as an attractive long-term saving and investment tool.
Lietuvos Zinios

Construction suspended
Construction company Baltijos Azuolas will not be able to renew the construction of a residential house in Zirmunai District in Vilnius. The construction works were suspended due to the protest of residents from the neighbouring houses that accused the company of destroying a children’s playground.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Friday, 9th of February

Assets of pension funds came in at LTL 139.5 million
The combined assets of 21 second-pillar pension funds alone made up LTL 769.6 million at the end of the year, a rise of 22.1 percent or LTL 139.5 million versus the end of the third quarter. The rise in assets mostly resulted on the transfer of LTL 113.7 million by the state-run social insurance fund (Sodra) in December. The social insurance fund has transferred a total of LTL 716 million to the pension funds since the launch of the pension scheme.
The number of second-pillar pension scheme members reached 610,100 as of late 2006, a rise of 13 percent year-on-year.
Mid-cap equity funds with 351,000 members accounted for 55.6 percent of total assets of the second-pillar pension funds.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika

Utenos Trikotazas to invest LTL 5 million in Lithuania, LTL 4 million in Ukraine
Knitwear manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas, which has its sights on high-fashion buyers, has earmarked around LTL 5 million for investment in modernization this year. The company plans to invest another LTL 4 million in its Ukrainian subsidiary, Mrija, which now has one-third the capacity of the plant in Utena, in eastern Lithuania.
"The investment will be in infrastructure. Part of the equipment at Utenos Trikotazas will be removed and replaced with more efficient equipment," Regina Sajiene, the CEO of the company, said.
Utenos Trikotazas has set itself a goal of attracting buyers from the higher segments of the fashion market.
Lietuvos Zinios

German cosmetics retailer Douglas set to enter Baltic markets
Germany's Douglas Holding, the largest cosmetics and fragrance retailer in Europe, is planning to enter the Baltic markets. In a press release available on its website, Douglas has said that some 50 new stores are due to open their doors across Europe this year and that preparations are under way to enter the Baltic countries. The group has earmarked EUR 90 million for the expansion.
"The goal is to transform the powerful German brand Douglas into a powerful pan-European brand," according to the statement.
Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 8th of February

Utenos Trikotazas to pay dividends
Lithuania's largest knitwear manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas, which is owned by SBA, plans to pay a dividend for 2006. But SBA's other listed company, Klaipedos Baldai, does not intend to pay any dividend for the year. Utenos Trikotazas distributed LTL 3.967 million in dividends last year, or LTL 0.20 per share.
Klaipedos Baldai has ploughed all profits into the furniture business in recent years, but it may pay dividends in the future, SBA executives said.
Utenos Trikotazas posted sales of LTL 124.81 million last year. However, the Utenos Trikotazas Group's consolidated sales fell by 5.7 percent to LTL 163.421 million. This year the company projects 12.7 percent growth in income to LTL 140.72 million, while the group plans to raise income by 12.9 percent to LTL 184.5 million.
Verslo Zinios

Grigiskes to meet expectations in 2006
Grigiskes, hardboard and toilet paper manufacturer, posted LTL 7.2 million in unaudited consolidated pretax earnings for 2006, in line with projections.
For 2007 the group, including the results of Baltwood subsidiary, is projecting the pretax profit of LTL 9 million.

Sales of Kesko Agro Lietuva almost unchanged
Kesko Agro Lietuva, Lithuania's agricultural machinery and grain distributor controlled by Finland's Kesko Group, posted LTL 345.6 million in sales for 2006, almost unchanged from the year-earlier figure of LTL 345.4 million.
"We managed to achieve the sales matching those of 2005 and boost the profit margin despite significant challenges faced by farmers and agricultural businesses last year. We sold more tractors than other sellers of Western tractors last year," Paulius Kibisa, Kesko Agro Lietuva CEO, said.
Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 7th of February

SWECO to do feasibility study for Lithuanian-Swedish energy link
Sweden's SWECO International signed in Stockholm on Tuesday a contract with Lietuvos Energija and Sweden's Svenska Kraftnat to conduct a feasibility study for connecting the electricity transmission systems of Lithuania and Sweden.
SWECO won the contract worth LTL 1.024 million through an open tender process.
The two transmission grid operators, Lietuvos Energija and Svenska Kraftnat, plan to equally share the cost of the feasibility study. The Lithuanian company said it would use its own resources for this purpose.
"The study will evaluate the possibility of linking the transmission networks of Lithuania and Sweden via a 350-kilometer, 700 to 1,000-megawatt undersea cable across the Baltic Sea floor," Lietuvos Energija CEO Rymantas Juozaitis said.
He added that the energy link was important for enhancing the energy security of the whole Baltic region and for integrating the Baltic countries more closely into the EU's energy market.
According to preliminary estimates, such a connection would cost around EUR 400 million and could be operational in 2012.
Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Lithuania earmarks LTL 1.045 million for roads in 2007
The Lithuanian government has allocated LTL 1.045 billion for the construction and upgrading of roads this year. This year's expenditure estimate for the Road Maintenance and Development Program is LTL 23 million lower than it was last year, the Transport Ministry said.
"(The budgeted amount) is LTL 190 million short of the required amount for financing of state roads alone. This year, we expect to receive another LTL 179 million from the European Union's funds, of which LTL 82 million should come from the Cohesion Fund and LTL 97 million from the European Regional Development Fund," said Rimvydas Gradauskas, the Transport Ministry's secretary.
Most of the budgeted funds, LTL 783.8 million, will be spend on roads of national importance. Another LTL 209.02 million will be used for roads and streets of local importance, and LTL 52.26 million for other purposes.
Lietuvos Zinios

Unemployment rises to 3.9 percent
Unemployment in Lithuania rose by 0.2 percent in January from December to reach 3.9 percent of the workforce. Almost 21,000 job seekers applied to the Labour Exchange in January for help in finding work, 75.7 percent more than in December. This increase is normal for this time of the year, according to the report.
The number of officially registered unemployed people was 82,700 as of February 1, a decrease of 5.5 percent, or 4,800 jobless, from a year ago.
The highest unemployment rate was in the Ignalina district (9 percent), while the lowest was in the Elektrenai district, (1.1 percent). Among major cities and towns, the highest jobless rate was in Panevezys (5.4 percent), while the lowest was in Siauliai, (2.4 percent).
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 6th of February

Pretax earnings of Ergo surge 70 times over 2006
Two Ergo-owned Lithuanian insurance companies posted LTL 9.92 million in combined unaudited pretax profit for full 2006, a surge versus the year-earlier figure of LTL 141,700. The pretax profit of non-life insurer Ergo Lietuva came in at LTL 7.37 million as against the loss of LTL 1.97 million reported for 2005.
The Ergo Lithuania's insurers signed LTL 195.15 million in premiums in 2006, a rise of 24.1 percent versus the year-earlier figure. Both companies paid out LTL 66.97 million, up by 28.7 percent from 2005.
Kauno Diena, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

Alytus Tekstile says in need of over LTL 30 million injection to survive
Alytaus Tekstile, the textile producer burdened by some LTL 42 million in debts, needs over LTL 30 million to streamline its operations and says to be unable to survive without additional financial injections.
"We could only operate with a significant financial injection, in excess of LTL 30 million. Some funds would be borrowed, while approximately LTL 20 million would comprise the public investment via the raising of authorized capital," Valdas Araminas, Alytaus Tekstile CEO, said.
Under a new business plan of 2007-2011, which the company's management submitted to the board last week, the company would scale down the manufacturing and reduce the area under production facilities. Moreover, the textile producer, which currently employs a workforce of about 1,500, would lay off some 400-450 workers and take some other cost saving measures.
Alytaus Tekstile currently needed some LTL 16 million to be paid to creditors, including LTL 4 million payable to employees. Moreover, the company needed a similar amount to add to its cash flow and investments.
However, the government still lingers to seal the fate of Alytaus Tekstile.
Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Passenger flow through Riga Airport has been growing at the fastest rate and remains the biggest in the Baltic States. Meanwhile Vilnius Airport is the third in the region. Passenger traffic through Riga Airport soared 19.8 percent to 192.2 thousand in January 2007, year-on-year. The passenger volume in Tallinn increased by 10.7 percent to 110.8 thousand and in Vilnius – 10.8 percent to 99.3 thousand.
Verslo Zinios

Monday, 5th of February

Investments by customers of Hansabankas top LTL 1 billion mark
The amount of private funds invested by Hansabankas, one of the leaders of Lithuania's banking sector, crossed the LTL 1 billion as the investments ploughed by private customers of the bank into the second-pillar pension funds, life insurance and investment funds reached LTL 1.1 billion as of late 2006.
Private investors mostly channelled their funds into life insurance and third-pillar pension schemes with the total amount of those investments growing by 48 percent over the year, to reach LTL 513.9 million.
The assets of second-pillar pension funds managed by Hansa Investiciju Valdymas, the investment management arm of Hansabankas, soared by 2 times, to LTL 372.3 million.
Verslo Zinios

Klaipedos Nafta project revenues
Klaipedos Nafta, the state-run oil product terminal operator, is projecting the profit and revenues of LTL 8.8 million and LTL 75.9 million, respectively, for 2007. Full-year revenues for 2006 stood at LTL 73.1 million.

Astra supplies nuclear fuel containers to France
Lithuanian machinery plant Astra has started to supply France with containers for storing nuclear fuel assemblies. Astra has already shipped 102 stainless steel containers, used for storage and transportation of nuclear fuel assemblies, to France and has orders to manufacture another 500 units this year.
Astra posted a pretax profit of LTL 2.4 million last year, a million litas higher than the previous year, on sales of LTL 41 million. The company allocated LTL 4.5 million for investment last year.
Verslo Zinios

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