Observer "Lietuva"
Lithuania Business News: Archive 2003-

WEEK 3.2008

Saturday, 19th of January

Spies in Mazeikiu Nafta
Eavesdropping equipment was found at the office of one of executives of Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil), the sole Baltic oil-refining complex controlled by the largest Polish oil concern PKN Orlen, the Polish daily Dziennik reports. The equipment was found last November at the office of Albertas Gimbutas, Mazeikiu Nafta's deputy CEO, who is considered one of the most important executives of the company and had a strong influence during the talks on the sale of Lithuania's oil company back in 2006, the daily claims. The sources of the daily said that fight for Mazeikiu Nafta was ongoing. Neither PKN Orlen nor Mazeikiu Nafta would confirm the report. Respublika, Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas

Akropolis malls present figures
The tenants of Akropolis malls in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda raised the sales by 62.7 percent, to LTL 1.79 billion in 2007, from LTL 1.1 billion in 2006. The malls drew 36.7 million visitors, up 46.8 percent versus the 2006 figure of 25 million, the mall operator Akropolis reported. "The growth mostly resulted on the opening of Akropolis mall in Kaunas in the spring of 2007, the rise in purchasing power in Lithuania as well as the success of Akropolis malls' concept," Renata Jakubcioniene, head of shopping centers rent unit, said in a statement. At Vilnius Akropolis mall, the turnover rose by 28 percent, to LTL 908.5 million, from LTL 707.4 million in 2006, as the number of visitors increased by 8.3 percent, year-on-year, to 15.48 million. Respublika

Contradictions of NDX Energija
NDX Energija contradicts the idea that the future aim of the national investor's company Leo LT would only be the construction of the new nuclear power plant. NDX Energija states that the suggestions to make the construction of the new nuclear power plant the main aim for Leo LT contradicts the very idea. Darius Nedzinskas, CEO of NDX Energija, claimed that only the new nuclear power plant would not solve the problem of Lithuanian energetic independence. Due to that the connections with Sweden and Poland are inevitable, as the electricity reserve must be obtained from the Western Europe. Nedzinskas noted that Leo LT was the joint stock company and the main aim of such company was to gain profit to the company and its shareholders.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 18th of January

Iki introduces self-checkout counters at its stores
Lithuania's second-biggest retailer Iki said it is the first grocery chain in the Baltics to start introducing self-checkout counters at its stores. The first self-checkouts will be put into service at an Iki store in Jasinskio Street, in the center of Vilnius, in February, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The Iki chain plans to install a hundred self-service machines at its stores across Lithuania this year. The company did not say how much money it planned to invest in the new self-service checkouts. Iki has contracted New Vision, a local company, to implement a self-service solution developed by the US technology company NCR. NCR self-service technologies are used by large supermarket chains such as Auchan, Casino and Carrefour in France, and Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's in the United Kingdom. Some fuel retailers, such as Lukoil and Statoil, are also installing self-checkouts at their filling stations in Lithuania.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika

New regulations for casinos in Lithuania
Casinos in Lithuania will have to identify and register their customers on entry and to register players when they exchange chips for cash or vice versa, irrespective of the amount involved, beginning in June, the parliament decided on Thursday. The amendments requiring mandatory registration of casino players were brought up for repeated consideration by the parliament after President Valdas Adamkus vetoed the measure. The President proposed in his decree to postpone the enforcement of the amendments until the start of June. The existing Law on Gaming requires that gambling operators register their customers when they reach a threshold of LTL 3,500 or the equivalent amount in a foreign currency, of chips exchanged or gambled. The law will have to be amended in order to bring it into line with the new amendments to the money laundering prevention law.
Kauno Diena

Lithuanian government remembered progressive income taxes
Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said on Thursday that his Social Democratic Party had not abandoned plans to introduce progressive income taxes in the country. Kirkilas said that the idea of progressive taxes would be one of the items on the party's election platform next autumn. "We will do this thing. We will invite our Social Democratic colleagues from Sweden and Germany to explain to our public, which for some reason does not believe it, that progressive taxes are a possibility for redistributing taxes in a way that would benefit people on lower incomes," the premier said. "At the moment, free market ideas dominate in our country," he added. Last year the Social Democratic Party worked out draft amendments to the Law on Personal Income Tax which called for reducing the tax rate for those earning up to LTL 1,000 monthly to 15 percent and keeping in place the 27 percent tax rate on higher incomes.
Lietuvos Zinios

Thursday, 17th of January

Lithuania's average annual inflation rate
Lithuania's average annual inflation rate, as measured by the EU Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), remained above the Maastricht limit for euro adoption in December, data from the EU statistical office Eurostat showed on Wednesday.
Lithuania's annual rate stood at 5.8 percent, while the Maastricht indicator was 3.4 percent. Lithuania's HICP-measured annual inflation in December reached 8.2 percent and in Estonia, it was 9.7 percent. Latvia recorded an annual inflation rate of 14 percent last month. The average annual rate was 10.1 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinio

Axis Industries will perform works in Latvia
Axis Industries, the industry and energy projects company controlled by Lithuania's Rubicon Group, will perform works worth LTL 1.6 million at Bio-Venta, the biodiesel plant under construction in Latvia. Axis Industries had signed a respective contract with Constructus, the general contractor of that project, the Lithuanian company said in a statement. The experts of Axis Industries launched the installation and tuning of electrical and automation equipment at the biodiesel production facility of Bio-Venta late in 2007. The works are expected to be finished by the end of February. Bio-Venta being constructed in the port of Ventspils will be the largest biodiesel producer in Latvia and one of the largest across the Baltic region. The output of the plant is expected to reach some 100,000 tons of ecological fuel per year.
Respublika

Lifosa presents figures
Annual sales revenue of the Russian-controlled Lithuanian fertilizer manufacturer Lifosa approached a billion litas last year and are likely to break that mark this year. Lifosa's full-year revenue increased by 35.1 percent in 2007 to LTL 921.989 million, according to preliminary figures released by the company on Wednesday. With a moderate sales growth of 8.5 percent, the fertilizer manufacturer could cross the 1-billion-litas revenue threshold this year. Lifosa CFO Regvita Ivanoviene did not rule out such a possibility, saying that market trends were still favorable for the company. "Although prices for phosphate fertilizer no longer rise by hundreds of percent, they continue to rise by several percent. There are no unpleasant surprises, no disturbances, at least now," she said.
Respublika, Verslo ZinioWednesday, 16th of JanuarMazeikiu Nafta launches sulphur-free gasoline
Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil), the sole Baltic oil refinery controlled by Poland's PKN Orlen, launched the sale of sulphur-free 95 grade gasoline to wholesale and retail chains last week. "Previously we only offered sulphur-free 98 grade gasoline to our Lithuanian customers. From January we kick off the trade in sulphur-free 95 grade gasoline, which all Lithuania's drivers could purchase at any gas station in the nearest time," Marek Mroczkowski, Mazeikiu Nafta CEO, said in a statement. New gasoline, which is more environment friendly, would reduce pollution, he added. Mazeikiu Nafta launched the production of sulphur-free 98 grade gasoline back in 2004. A year later, the company kicked off the supply of sulphur-free 95 grade to Poland and Estonia.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos RytaReduced VAT rate on fruits and vegetables next year
The Lithuanian parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of introducing a reduced value-added tax rate of 5 percent on all fruits and vegetables starting January 1, 2009.
The respective amendments to the Law on VAT passed by a vote of 56 in favor, 10 against and 35 abstentions. The reduced VAT rate will apply both to locally grown and imported products. Fruits and vegetables are currently taxed at the standard VAT rate of 18 percent. The government did not support the VAT reduction saying that the measure would cost the state budget around LTL 50 million in lost revenue annually. Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos ZinioLithuanian moves down in terms of economic freedom
Lithuania has moved down to rank 26th out of 162 countries worldwide and is the 13th freest economy among 41 European countries, according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom released by the US-based think tank Heritage Foundation.
Lithuania's economy is 70.8 percent free, and its overall score is 0.7 percentage point lower than last year. In 2007 Lithuania ranked 22nd among 161 countries worldwide, as its economic freedom score was 72 percent. This year's ranking is topped by Hong Kong, which is followed by Singapore and Ireland. Estonia and Latvia rank 12th and 38th, respectively. Overall Lithuania's score is higher than the regional average, and the country scores above average or average in many areas of economic freedom, the Heritage Foundation said. Its strongest scores are in business freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom.
Respublika, Kauno Diena, Lietuvos RytaS

Tuesday, 15th of January

Fermentas invests into new technologies
Lithuanian biotechnology company Fermentas has invested LTL 25 million in new production premises and is expanding into the molecular diagnostics market.
In medicine, molecular diagnostics is used to diagnose infectious, oncological and genetic diseases and to tailor medications to individual patients' needs. "Our aim is to create in Lithuania a technological base for developing, manufacturing and exporting high value added, high qualification molecular diagnostics kits," Fermentas Chairman Viktoras Butkus said in a news conference on Monday. He added that the innovations installed by Fermentas would contribute to the development of the modern medical diagnostics industry in Lithuania and to the establishment of new biotechnology companies. Although the world's molecular diagnostics market is still in its early stages of development, its annual value already exceeds USD 17.9 billion and is expected to reach USD 92.1 billion in 2016, according to data provided by the company. Fermentas produces and markets over 700 different products. Its main competitors are based in the United States and Britain.
Kauno Diena, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Registration of new cars in Lithuania
A total of 219,100 new and newly imported used cars were registered in Lithuania last year, up 12.8 percent from 194,200 vehicles registered in 2006, the state car registration company Regitra reported on Monday. First-time registrations of used cars increased by 10.01 percent last year, while new car registrations soared by 45.5 percent, it said. The average age of used vehicles registered for the first time in Lithuania fell to 10.4 years last year, from 10.9 years in 2006. Germany remained the number one source of imported used cars last year, but its share of the total imports dropped to 44 percent from 58 percent the previous year. In recent years, Germany has been losing its position as Lithuania's biggest supplier of second-hand vehicles to France, Italy and Belgium, Regitra said.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Iceland's SX Investment intend buying shares of ZIA Valda
Iceland's SX Investment, acting in concert with private investors, intends to buy a new LTL 48.3 million share issue of ZIA Valda, which will boost the authorized capital of the investment company controlled by entrepreneur Gediminas Ziemelis by one-fourth. With the issue acquired by new investors, the stake of Ziemelis in the company will decline to 65 percent, from current 90 percent. Meanwhile, ZIA Valda intends to boost the transparency further in the upcoming five-year period and may even go public. The executives of ZIA Valda companies, other private investors who own the shares of ZIA Valda might also purchase new shares of the investment company.
Verslo Zinios, RespublikMonday, 14th of JanuarMaxima reports figures
Maxima Group, the largest retailer in the Baltics, reported LTL 8.19 billion in sales in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria in 2007, a surge of 30.6 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 6.27 billion. The sales of Maxima LT, the Lithuanian unit of the group, rose by 28.3 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 5.12 billion, Maxima Group said in a statement. The sales of Maxima Latvija grew by 21.2 percent, to LTL 2.02 billion, Maxima Eesti - by 56.6 percent, to LTL 660.6 million, and Maxima Bulgaria - by 66.3 percent, to LTL 167.6 million. Gintaras Marcinkevicius, Maxima Group CEO, attributed successful performance figures to focused operations of the group and implementation of long-term strategy. In 2008 the group aims to open about 80 new outlets and boost the sales by some 20 percent, to LTL 9.8 billion. The group currently employs a workforce of more than 25,000 and runs 404 stores, including 223 in Lithuania, in its four markets of operations.
Respublika

Cinema market in Lithuania
Lithuanian cinemas sold tickets worth LTL 35.635 million last year; it was by 40.8 percent more than in 2006. The experts claim that the year of 2007 was the best for cinema business in Lithuania. The members of Lithuanian Cinema Association state that the number of people who visit cinemas is constantly increasing, despite the fact that the prices for tickets are growing. The number of viewers soared by 33.6 percent last year. Such dominating cinema business distributors as Forum Cinemas, Acme and Garsu Pasaulio Irasai gained almost 98 percent of all the revenues last year.
Lietuvos Zinios

The number of internet users rises
The number of Internet users in Lithuania rose slightly in the autumn of 2007, compared with the summer of that year, a survey by TNS Gallup has found.
The percentage of the population who said they had used the Internet at least once in six months increased to 39.3 percent last autumn, up from 38.9 percent last summer. Some 37.5 percent of the respondents surfed the net at least once a month, up from 36 percent, and 33.6 percent went online at least on a weekly basis, up from 31.9 percent.
Lietuvos Rytas

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