Observer "Lietuva"
Lithuania Business News: Archive 2003-

WEEK 20.2008

Saturday, 17th of May

Lithuanians spent less on insurance
The Lithuanians spent LTL 231 on life insurance per capita on average last year, twice as less compared with the Estonians but more than the Latvians, the SEB Group reported. In Estonia and Latvia spendings on life insurance total LTL 315 and LTL 209 per capita, respectively. "Three Baltic countries are similar in that the focus and spending on property insurance is more significant compared with health and life insurance. In this regard we are well behind the countries with a longer history of insurance services, where life insurance accounts for the largest chunk of total spending on insurance", Baiginat Kamuntaviciene, CEO of SEB Gyvybes Draudimas (SEB Life Insurance), said in a statement. Economic growth naturally encouraged stronger demand in financial services, yet in case of life insurance the main focus should be on customer education, she said. The statistics compiled by SEB Group showed a significant increase in the number of customers with income per household member of less than LTL 1,000 who opted for life insurance in Lithuania in 2006-2007.

Lithuanian Powel Plant post figures
Lithuania's state-controlled Lietuvos Elektrine (Lithuanian Power Plant) posted on Friday a pre-tax loss of LTL 3.72 million for the first quarter of this year, compared with a pre-tax profit of LTL 28.8 million a year ago. First-quarter revenue fell by 10.2 percent year-on-year to LTL 81.74 million, the company reported to the Vilnius Stock Exchange (VSE). The multi-fuel power plant in Elektrenai, halfway between Vilnius and Kaunas, last year posted a 35.6 percent increase in annual net profit to LTL 33.917 million, with revenue up 15.5 percent to LTL 305.058 million. The Economy Ministry holds a 96.4 percent stake in Lietuvos Elektrine, which is listed on the VSE.

Mazeikiai Oil reports losses
Lithuania's oil refinery Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil), which is controlled by Poland's PKN Orlen, reported on Friday LTL 6.6 million in consolidated net losses for the first quarter of this year, down from LTL 135 million in the same period last year. Consolidated revenue for the first quarter more than doubled to LTL 3.619 billion, up from LTL 1.579 billion a year ago, it said in a press release. The company attributed the improved results to the restarting of its vacuum distillation unit, which had been destroyed by a major fire in October 2006, in late January. That enabled the plant to restore its pre-fire capacity and increase its refining output and sales. The refinery processed 2.157 million tons of crude oil and other feedstock in the three months, a rise of around 60 percent from 1.324 million tons a year ago. Wholesale fuel sales jumped by 22 percent.
Lietuvos Rytas

Friday, 16th of May

New bank in Lithuania
New Lithuania's investment bank Finasta, the tenth commercial bank to obtain a Bank of Lithuania license, aims to launch business in September. The board of the central bank ruled to issue a bank license to Finasta on Thursday, the Bank of Lithuania said in a statement. "We hope to complete all scheduled tasks in due time and expect Finasta bank to launch the services in September. We will seek to stand out among commercial banks with personal approach towards the needs of each customer, wide range of investment services, which would meet the ever growing interest of Lithuania's people in investments and assets management," Dalius Kaziunas, Finasta director, said in a statement. The bank will be headed by Sarunas Nedzinskas, former board member of Lietuvos Draudimas (Lithuanian Insurance) and currently the deputy of Kaziunas.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas

Lithuania drops in terms of its competitiveness
Lithuania has dropped five places, year-on-year, to rank 36th, on the 2008 global competitiveness scoreboard. Lithuania has been included in the 55-country list compiled by Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD) for the second consecutive year. On the list, Lithuania lags behind Estonia, which ranks 23rd this year, one place below its 2007 position. Yet Lithuania scores better than EU fellows Portugal (37th), Hungary (38th), Bulgaria (39th), Greece (42nd), Poland (44th), Romania (45th) or Italy (46th), Lithuania ranks the second in terms of women executives number and mobile subscribers number per 1,000 population, the third in terms of corporate profit taxation level, the fourth in terms of real GDP growth and short-term interest rates announced by the central bank, and the fifth in terms of patents issued to residents.
Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Predictions of Standard & Poor
The international rating agency Standard & Poor`s, which upgraded Lithuania's rating outlook to stable from negative in the spring of 2007, sees Lithuania's economy growing up to 4 percent per year in coming three years although believes that the soft landing is the most likely scenario for the country's economy. Lithuania's economic development would slow down considerably in coming years, though there was a 50-70 percent probability that the slowdown would not be drastic, Standard and Poor's credit analyst Eileen Zhang said while on a visit to Vilnius on Thursday.

Thursday, 15th of May

Prices of spirits might rise
An association brin
Color ging together more than 90 percent of Lithuania's strong alcoholic drink manufacturers and distributors forecasts that spirits prices will increase by more than 30 percent this year. Prices will be pushed by increasing production, logistics and labor costs, the Association of Alcoholic Beverage Trading Companies said in a press release. Algimantas Ciburys, the marketing director at Stumbras, a member of the association, blamed the increase in beverage prices on rising prices for key raw materials. "Some natural raw materials, such as berries and juices, have doubled in price. Prices for packaging -- bottles, corks and labels -- have risen by around 30 percent," he said. Laurynas Miskinis, the commercial and marketing director at Vilniaus Degtine, another major beverage manufacturer, said that ethyl alcohol production costs had already increased by 60 percent due to rising prices for grain and energy resources and would rise further.
Lietuvos Rytas

Personal computer software piracy falls in Lithuania
Personal computer software piracy in Lithuania fell to 56 percent last year, down from 57 percent in 2006, according to a study published by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). However, the software industry's losses from piracy in Lithuania rose to LTL 83 million from LTL 69 million, the study conducted by IDC showed. "Obviously, our progress has been too slow, and in the future, we face a long and relentless fight against illegal software users and distributors," Edita Ivanauskiene, a lawyer representing the BSA in Lithuania, said in a press release. Latvia's piracy rate was also 56 percent last year, unchanged from 2006. In Estonia, software piracy declined by 1 percentage point to 51 percent. Software manufactures' losses in the other two Baltic countries were lower than in Lithuania: LTL 65 million in Latvia and LTL 45 million in Estonia.
Lietuvos Rytas

Penki Kontinentai intends to expand
Lithuanian banking technology firm Penkiu Kontinentu Bankines Technologijos, part of Penki Kontinentai IT group, aims to expand business in Central Asia and the Caucasus in 2008. The company will soon establish a subsidiary in Uzbekhistan and expand its office in Kazakhstan, which was set up almost a decade ago. Moreover, the company has already concluded new contracts on the provision of additional services in Azerbaijan, Georgia, other countries of the region. "More and more large US, British, Italian and French banks are investing in these regions. Accordingly, the demand in advanced banking equipment, software solutions, ATM chain maintenance services is growing," Idrakas Dadasovas, Penki Kontinentai chairman, said in a statement.
Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 14th of May

Vital Life aims to become leader in Lithuania
Vital Life, the largest Norway's privately owned life and pension insurance company, aims to become one of the leaders on Lithuania's market in the long term. The Lithuanian branch of Vital Life cooperates with Lithuania's DnB Nord bank, which is also a member of the financial services group DnB NOR. "In the short term we will seek to gain a footing on the competitive Lithuania's life insurance market and offer the best life insurance options to the customers. In the long term we hope to become one of the leading companies," Jonas Albrechtas, head of Vital Life's Lithuanian branch, said during a news conference on Tuesday. Several years ago Vital Life opened a branch in Sweden and last year - a branch in Latvia. The insurer mulls possibilities to expand to Estonia, Poland and Denmark.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Zemaitijos Pienas reports losses
Zemaitijos Pienas, one of Lithuania's largest dairy groups, reported LTL 5.7 million in losses for the first three months of this Color year reversing the year-earlier profit of LTL 1.21 million. Unaudited consolidated revenues, meanwhile, increased by 13.04 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 113.4 million, the company said in a statement. In 2007 the audited sales of the dairy group rose by 21.1 percent, to LTL 464.2 million, while the net profit soared 90 percent, to LTL 24.51 million. The principal company alone raised the net profit by 92.7 percent, to LTL 24.248 million, as the sales grew by 21.1 percent, to LTL 464.287 million.
Verslo Zinios

Kazakh companies offer help to Lithuanians
Kazakh companies are ready to supply fuel to a new nuclear power plant that Lithuania and its partners plan to build by 2015-2018, the Lithuanian government's press office said. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarba Color yev said this to Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas during their meeting on Tuesday, it said. Kirkilas invited Kazakh companies to take part in Lithuania's project to build a liquefied gas terminal, as well as to invest in logistics centers and the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone. The prime minister said that Lithuania saw much potential for partnership with Kazakhstan in the area of energy security and diversification of energy resources and that it attached great significance to joint transport projects with the Central Asian and South Caucasus regions.
Verslo Zinios

Tuesday, 13th of May

Sanitas reports consolidated net profit
Sanitas, the owner of pharmaceutical plants in Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, reported LTL 10.3 million in consolidated net profit for the first three months of this year, up 65.7 percent year-on-year. However, the net profit of the head company alone plunged 5.4 times, to LTL 798,000. The group's EBITDA rose by 22.4 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 30 million, while the revenues increased by 25.6 percent, to LTL 96.7 million, Sanitas said in a quarterly statement. The sales of the head company alone inched up by 0.78 percent, to LTL 10.542 million.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Achema’s revenues rose
Lithuania's nitrogen fertilizer and chemical product manufacturer Achema said on Monday its first-quarter revenue rose by 43 percent year-on-year to LTL 504.7 million. Achema attributed the growth in revenue to increased production output and favorable market conditions. However, increased prices for natural gas and raw materials pushed up the company's operating costs, which had an impact on its first-quarter performance results. "The price of natural gas in US dollars rose by 63 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year," Achema CEO Jonas Sirvydis said.

Lithuania central government collected LTL 6155.7 million
The Lithuanian central government collected LTL 6155.7 million in budget revenues in the first four months of this year, LTL 54.8 million above the monthly target of LTL 6.101 billion, the Finance Ministry reported on Monday. In April alone, the revenues made up LTL 1548.5 million exceeding the target by LTL 57.1 million. The revenues came in larger-than-expected as in April the Bank of Lithuania transferred to the budget the residual profit, which exceeded the targetted figure by LTL 41.9 million. Total four-month revenues, including the support of the EU and other foreign countries, made up LTL 8217 million, while in April alone the total figure was LTL 1926.1 million, including LTL 377.6 million in EU funds.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Monday, 12th of May

Vakaru Medienos Grupe presents figures
Vakaru Medienos Grupe (VMG), one of Lithuania's largest wood processing and furniture groups, said on Saturday its consolidated first-quarter sales rose by 38.6 percent year-on-year to LTL 105.62 million. Giriu Bizonas, the group's biggest company, posted first-quarter sales of LTL 59.63 million and Klaipedos Mediena's sales reached LTL 35.47 million. Sakuona achieved a 15.8 percent increase in first-quarter sales to LTL 10.53 million, VMG said in a press release.

Ukio Bank reports profit
Ukio Bankas, the fast-growing Lithuanian commercial bank, reported LTL 21.5 million in unaudited net profit for the first four months of this year, unchanged from the year-earlier figure. Last year the audited net profit of the bank soared to LTL 82.724 million, from LTL 47.383 million in 2006, while the net profit of the whole group grew to LTL 77.351 million, from LTL 43.485 million a year earlier.

Slowdown in Lithuania transportation sector
Lithuania's transport sector is going through a slowdown, with road haulers being the most hit by soaring fuel prices and other costs. Members of the national road carriers' association Linava discussed the situation in the industry and the problems it faces at their congress on Friday. Haulers are struggling to keep pace with rising fuel, insurance and labor costs. The average profit rate in the transport industry fell to 5.7 percent last year, down from 6.6 percent in 2006. Linava President Algimantas Kondrusevicius said that some companies would be forced to pull out of the market. He said that the industry had received virtually no support from the state. Road transport accounts for 53 percent of the value-added in the transport sector.

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