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 Observer "Lietuva"
Lithuania Business News: Archive 2003-

WEEK 4.2008

Saturday, 26th of January

Ukio Bank presents figures
Ukio Bankas, the fast-growing Lithuanian commercial bank that is part of Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG) controlled by entrepreneur Vladimir Romanov, posted LTL 82.5 million in unaudited net profit for full 2007, a surge of 74 percent versus the year-earlier figure. In 2008 the net earnings are seen growing to LTL 91.5 million, the bank said in a statement. The assets of the bank should increase by 36 percent, to LTL 5.47 billion this year after growing 33 percent, to LTL 4.02 billion in 2007. The growth would result on several factors, including the envisaged 25 percent increase in the number of customers and 12 percent rise in the number of operations, the bank said.
Respublika

Real gross domestic products rises in Lithuania
Lithuania's real gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 10 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 95.4 billion at current prices in 2007, Economy Minister Vytas Navickas has said citing preliminary estimations of the Economy Ministry. Industrial output grew by 2.6 percent versus 2006, he said adding that the growth should accelerate in 2008 as a result of larger support of the European Union (EU). The ministry believes that December twelve-month inflation average will be below the 6.5 percent level projected by the Finance Ministry. In December 2007 the rate was 5.7 percent. "The shortage of labor force, which will make the employers raise the wages will have a considerable effect on inflation," Navickas said during Friday's discussion Lithuania's Economy Review and Outlook.
Respublika

A fine for Philip Moris Lietuva
Lithuania's State Tobacco and Alcohol Control Authority (VTAKT) has slammed local tobacco producer Philip Morris Lietuva with a LTL 4,000 fine for the distribution of tobacco products free of charge. The regulators brushed aside the argument that three boxes or 750 packages of tobacco products had been handed over to TNS Gallup pollster for survey purposes, VTAKT said in a statement.
Respublika

Friday, 25th of January

Spirits' value in Lithuania
The value of Lithuania's spirits market grew by more than 17 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 4.8 billion in 2007. Volume sales, meanwhile, increased by slightly more than 7 percent, to 419 million liters, the survey by Euromonitor International, the provider of business intelligence, has shown. The trends imply that Lithuania's spirits market is getting saturated, while the spirits consumption habits in Lithuania are getting closer to those in the West, the analysts of the company have said. According to the survey data, the expenditures on spirits per capita (for residents aged at least 21) rose by 30 percent in Lithuania in a five-year period - to LTL 2,000 in 2007, from LTL 1,300 in 2002.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Vilnius Furniture reports preliminary net profit
Vilniaus Baldai (Vilnius Furniture), one of Lithuania's leading furniture manufacturers, on Thursday reported a preliminary net profit of LTL 2.082 million for the full year 2007, returning to profit after a loss in 2006. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) almost trebled last year to LTL 17.69 million, the company said. "Positive changes are obvious, despite several factors which had an adverse impact on the annual result," Vilniaus Baldai CEO Nerijus Pacevicius said in a statement.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

AirBaltic might launch new flights
Latvian national airline Airbaltic said on Thursday that it plans to launch direct services from Vilnius to the French capital of Paris and to the Ukrainian cities of Simferopol and Odessa during its summer season starting in late March. There will be four weekly flights to Odessa and five weekly flights to Paris and Simferopol each. The airline is also increasing the number of flights from Vilnius to Milan and to Berlin to five flights per week on each route. It is adding a number of new routes from Riga to its summer schedule as well, including flights to Venice (Italy), Nice (France), Alesund (Norway), Billund (Denmark), Sochi (Russia), Yerevan (Armenia), Kishinev (Moldova), Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Kuopio (Finland).
Lietuvos Rytas

Thursday, 24th of January

Sarkinas calms Lithuanians
Stock market crunch will not affect Lithuania's monetary policy for the time being, the Bank of Lithuania governor Reinoldijus Sarkinas believes. He warned, however, that some risks might be faced by banks with quite a few customers who had borrowed funds for investments. "We have to get used to turbulences. There will be more in future. It may have effects if there are any shares purchased with borrowed funds. It may also affect banks, the share of bad loans may increase," Sarkinas told the reporters on Wednesday. The plunge on the stock market would not have any significant effects either on monetary policy or the banks in the meantime. Sarkinas also expressed his belief that the inflation would move down after the end of the heating season. "I think that the inflation will grow at least till the end of the heating season and might reverse the direction from May," the Bank of Lithuania governor said. The growing prices of energy and heating, as well as higher excise duties would be the main drivers of inflation this year, he added.
Respublika, Kauno Diena, Verslo Zinios

Sweden swishes to be partners
Swedish government backs Swedlit power cable project between Lithuania and Sweden, said Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas. "During a meeting with prime minister I asked for this to be done as soon as possible, because there is a sort of a bureaucracy there as well. I guess arranging the seaside areas where the cable should pass - perhaps the envisioned windmills on Lithuania's side - will take the longest", Kirkilas told the press Wednesday. The prime minister remarked that the Swedish government is yet to present the project to the parliament, which, in turn, will have to confirm it. "The most important result is that Sweden showed considerable interest in having such a link and currently discussions are taking place about the entire Baltic Sea region's strategy, one of the main domains of which is to join the entire region with as many infrastructure and energy links as possible. I think, in that respect, Sweden is a very important partner to us at the moment", the prime minister said.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Shock in the bourse
The most liquid stocks moved slightly higher on Wednesday on the Vilnius Stock Exchange (VSE), which took a major hit a day earlier. The OMX Vilnius index slid 0.12 percent, to 452.76 points, while the OMX Baltic Benchmark firmed 0.94 percent, to 589.97 points, and the OMX Baltic 10 index of ten most liquid Baltic stocks rose 1.13 percent, to 258.73 points. The experts stated that the situation got more stable on the Vilnius market on Wednesday. However, the situation, which resulted on exaggerated fears of economic slowdown in the Baltic countries, might prevail for quite a long time the analysts said. The fundamentals of stocks looked quite solid, yet the panic prevailing among the market players and negative outlook might prevent the situation from getting any better in the nearest time.
Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 23rd of January

DnB Nord Bankas shows figures
DnB Nord Bankas, the third-largest Lithuanian bank by assets, said on Tuesday that its full-year net profit soared by 87.2 percent to LTL 105.22 million from LTL 56.22 million in 2006. According to preliminary data, the bank's assets increased by 41.6 percent last year to LTL 10.63 billion. Its total loan portfolio grew by 43.8 percent to LTL 8.87 billion, with loans to individual customers up by 66.1 percent to LTL 4.18 billion and loans to business customers up by 28.4 percent to LTL 4.69 billion. Total deposits rose by 36.4 percent over the year to LTL 4.23 billion, the bank said. Respublika

President vetoes lower VAT for fruits and vegetables
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on Tuesday vetoed the parliament's decision to lower the value-added tax (VAT) on fruits and vegetables to 5 percent from 18 percent. Adamkus sent the amendment to the Law on VAT providing for the reduced tax rate back to the parliament for reconsideration. The president believes that the VAT reduction would distort competition by favoring fruit and vegetable producers over other producers and suppliers of services, it said. In Adamkus' opinion, the measure would also violate the constitutional principle of equality of all persons. "Such a legal regulation that creates exceptional business conditions for a certain business area also breaches the principle of free competition, which is set down in Article 46 of the Constitution," the president said in a statement.
Respublika, Kauno Diena, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios

FlyLAL invest into new its main aim
Fly-LAL-Lithuanian Airlines said on Tuesday that it plans to invest almost LTL 0.5 billion in expansion this year and next year in a bid to win back its position as the number-one air carrier in Lithuania and to become the fastest-growing airline in the Baltics. FlyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines expects to carry a million passengers this year, twice as many as it carried last year, the company's CEO, Tadas Puksta, said in a news conference. This year the airline intends to expand its fleet to 16 aircraft, including 12 Boeings and four Saab 2000 planes. It plans to purchase several new planes, including two Boeing 757 aircraft, to supplement its current fleet of three Boeings 737-300, five Boeings 737-500 aircraft and four Saab aircraft. FlyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines intends to add more flights to Milan, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Kiev and Moscow to its flights schedule for the next summer season starting in March. It will also offer a morning flight to London.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 22nd of January

Mazeikiu Nafta switches on the vacuum distillation tower
Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil), the sole Baltic oil refinery controlled by Poland's oil concern PKN Orlen, switched on the vacuum distillation tower after more than a year of repairs on Sunday. With the installation launched, the refining capacity of the plant would reach 10.3 million tons per year, i.e. the level before the fire, which broke out at the refinery in October 2006, Mazeikiu Nafta said in a statement. Previously the refinery aimed to launch the unit late in 2007. For the tower to be launched, another installation needs to be stopped temporarily, which affects the refining capacities of the plant.
Respublika

SEB Vilniaus bank changes name
SEB Vilniaus Bankas, Lithuania's largest bank by assets, starts operating under the name of SEB Bankas on Monday. The names of the bank's life insurance, investment management and leasing subsidiaries have been changed to SEB Gyvybes Draudimas, SEB Investiciju Valdymas and SEB Lizingas, respectively, the bank's spokesman, Arvydas Zilinskas, said. He added that the venture capital management and investment banking arms had been earlier renamed as SEB Venture Capital and SEB Enskilda, respectively. The bank expects to complete the rebranding process by April 1. SEB's Latvian and Estonian subsidiaries, SEB Latvijas Unibanka and Estonia's SEB Eesti Uhisbank, are also expected to change their names this year.
Verslo Zinios

Oil production declines
With oil wells in Western Lithuania getting drier, the country's total crude oil production declined by 14.5 percent in 2007, to 155,400 tons, from 181,800 tons a year earlier, the Geological Service reported on Monday. The decline was envisaged and was expected to be less pronounced than in 2004-2005, when the output plunged by 25-30 percent. Minijos Nafta, a Lithuanian-Danish joint venture, produced 62,800 tons of oil last year, down 27.8 percent, year-on-year. The output of Geonafta shrank by 5.8 percent, to 49,100 tons, while Genciu Nafta, a Lithuanian-Swedish joint venture, produced 25,900 tons of crude last year, down 14.5 percent versus 2006. Manifoldas was the only among the four companies to boost the output - by 42 percent, to 17,600 tons.
Lietuvos Zinios

Monday, 21st of January

SEB shows figures
Full-year net profits of SEB Vilniaus Bankas, Lithuania's largest bank by assets, and its subsidiaries soared by 76.9 percent last year to LTL 509.7 million preliminary data showed on Friday. The bank alone posted a net profit of LTL 496.1 million, up 73.8 percent year-on-year. SEB Vilniaus Bankas said the net result for 2007 included a profit of LTL 86.6 million from the sale of real property and the bank's real estate subsidiary, SEB VB Nekilnojamasis Turtas. The group expects to publish more detailed financial results for 2007 on Feb. 7. SEB Vilniaus Bankas posted LTL 285.533 million in audited net profits for 2006. The group's consolidated net profits reached LTL 288.2 million. The Scandinavian bank SEB owns 99.7 percent of SEB Vilniaus Bankas.
Verslo Zinios

Lithuania ranks 28th in terms of e-government readiness index
Lithuania ranks 28th among 182 countries in the 2008 e-government readiness index, moving up 12 notches from 40th position in 2005, according to the latest survey released by the United Nations. Lithuania lags behind Estonia, which rose to 13th position in the latest rankings from 19th in 2005, but is well ahead of Latvia, which fell to 36th place from 32nd. Sweden tops the UN's 2008 e-government readiness index, followed by Denmark in second place and Norway in third. At the bottom of the list are Guinea, Niger and Chad. Coming close to Lithuania in the e-government rankings are Slovenia at No 26, Italy at No 27, Malta at No 29 and Hungary in 30th position. The United States ranks only 10th in the latest index. Poland is in 33rd position and Russia is in 66th place.
Verslo Zinios

Complaining about insurance companies
The clients of insurance companies are mostly complaining about the small compensations, agreements' conditions and many other things. The Insurance Control Committee received 360 complaints about insurers last year. Mindaugas Salcius, chairman of the Insurance Control Committee, said that there were 4.2 million of contracts made with insurance companies, while the number of complaints was not that large. However, the member of the Committee, Darius Andriukaitis, states that the increasing number of complaints shows that the consumers are protecting their interests more often.
Lietuvos Zinios

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