Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 19th

Saturday 10th of May, 2003

Purchasers of alcohol companies are not niggards
The process of privatisation of Lithuanian alcohol companies is coming to an end. Purchasers of the four to-be-privatised alcohol producers are ready to pay more than the State Property Fund (SPF) is asking. SPF had evaluated Stumbras, Alita, Anyksciu Vynas and Vilniaus Degtine at LTL 172 million. Meanwhile, according to the data of Lietuvos Rytas daily, investors are ready to pay nearly LTL 300 million. However, Antanas Malikenas, the head of SPF, emphasizes that price will not be the major factor; the tender commission will consider other criteria set by the governmental privatisation program, too.
Latvijas Balzams offers LTL 158 million for the 92-percent share package in Stumbras. The initial price of the package was set at LTL 107 million. Mineraliniai Vandenys and Bennet Distributors offered LTL 152 million and LTL 149 million respectively.
The price of the 83.77-percent share package in Alita had been set at LTL 50 million while the Italian Luigiterza Bosca has offered almost twice as much (more than LTL 90 million). Six investors expressed a wish to buy the 82.27 percent of shares at Vilniaus Degtine offering from LTL 7 to LTL 24 million while the initial price was set at LTL 5 million only.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika)

Lithuania's export rose by one-fourth
Lithuanian exports rose by 25.9 percent in the first quarter of 2003, compared to the same period last year, while imports grew at a 9.5 percent rate.
The preliminary data for the first quarter, based on customs declarations, showed that Lithuania's exports reached LTL 5.464 billion, while imports made LTL 6.698 billion.
The country's foreign trade deficit narrowed by 30.5 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 1.234 billion in the first quarter.
In the first quarter compared to the same period last year, Lithuania's exports to the EU markets fell by 0.2 percent, while imports dropped by 1.2 percent. The country's exports to the CIS markets decreased by 10.7 percent, while imports were up by 32.9 percent.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Zero inflation was registered in April
Lithuania's consumer price index (CPI) held steady in April compared to March as a rise in food and clothing prices was offset by a fall in transport costs.
Over the year from April 2002 to April 2003, consumer prices in Lithuania fell by 1 percent. In April 2003 compared to December 2002, the CPI remained stable.
The Statistics Department said a 0.2 percent rise in prices for food products and non-alcoholic drinks and a 1.8 percent increase in clothing and footwear prices, as well as a 0.7 drop in transport costs had the biggest impact on April's CPI.
In transport sector, gasoline prices were down by 2.6 percent, while liquefied petroleum gas prices increased by 2 percent and prices for used cars jumped by 2.1 percent.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Kauno Diena)

Friday 9th of May, 2003

Achema has posted higher profit
The Lithuanian nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer Achema, controlled by the Achema Group, reported an unaudited pre-tax profit of LTL 2.8 million for the first quarter of 2003, a 64 percent increase over the same period last year.
"A rise in sales of more profitable products at the start of this year helped Achema boost its profit. Currency exchange rate fluctuations had an effect on our results, too," Jonas Sirvydis, CEO of Achema, says.
Achema is projecting a profit of LTL 7.4 million for the full year 2003 after reporting an audited pre-tax profit of LTL 3.89 million for 2002.
Achema's first quarter turnover reached LTL 136.6 million, almost unchanged from the LTL 136.4 million turnover posted for the first three months of 2002. The company expects to boost its annual turnover by 16.6 percent up to LTL 567 million this year.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

The National Stock Exchange to be privatised
Lithuania's Finance Ministry is set to propose Lithuanian government to include the National Stock Exchange of Lithuania (NSEL) into the list of companies for privatisation. The strategic investor will be offered 44.3 percent of the NSEL's shares and 32 percent stake of depository's shares that are presently held by the Finance Ministry. The Ministry says that privatization of the state-owned shares at bourse will allow to speed up installation of modern technologies in the market and also enable integration into Europe's stock exchange market.
"The proposal to privatise the state-owned shares at bourse is based on the analysis of activity of the national stock exchange market as well as on the experience of foreign countries",
Lina Adakauskiene, the secretary at the Finance Ministry said.
The Warsaw Governmental Securities Exchange and Helsinki Exchange Group (HEX) are interested in the possibilities to invest into Lithuanian NSEL the most.
(Respublika, Verslo Zinios)

New automobiles are likely to get more expensive next year
New car dealers think that new automobiles might get more expensive after Lithuania's accession to the European Union. Presently, a 10-percent tax is applied on Japanese automobiles that are imported to the EU countries. It is likely that Japanese automobiles will get by 10 percent more expensive in Lithuania, too.
"We import only three Nissan models from Japan – Maxima, Patrol and X-Trail; other models are manufactured in Europe", Arvydas Greska, the head of UAB Raitas, is delighted with industry integration.
"I believe that Mitsubishi will reduce manufacturer's prices in order to keep in step with their competitors as it is done presently when importing automobiles to Europe", Audrius Sinkeviius, the head of UAB Vytaras that imports Mitsubishi automobiles, says.
The European Commission has ascertained that after the introduction of euro, prices of automobiles sold in the EU countries differ by up to 20 percent.
(Verslo Zinios)

Omnitel's turnover has increased by 10 percent
Omnitel reported sales of LTL 166.9 million for the first quarter of 2003, a 10 percent rise since the same period last year. Omnitel's first quarter sales grew by 16 percent in year-on-year terms, according to the first quarter performance report released by the Nordic telecommunications company TeliaSonera.
Omnitel had 855,000 subscribers in late March 2003, some 0.6 percent more than at the start of the year.
Omnitel's operating profit more than doubled in the first quarter and reached SEK 80 million (LTL 30.4 million).
The company had around 850,000 subscribers at the start of 2003, up by 46.8 percent compared to 579,000 subscribers in early 2002. It reported a turnover of LTL 702 million for the full year 2002, a 42.1 percent increase from the 2001 turnover of LTL 494 million.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Thursday 8th of May, 2003

New Logistics Centre to be established in Vilnius
A new logistics centre is to be established in Vilnius to integrate both motor road and railway transportations. The initiative group for building of the logistics centre in Vilnius also called "a freight village" includes representatives of local carrier organisations and Vilnius Engineering University. The project is expected to boost the competitiveness of Lithuanian haulage companies and the entire Lithuania's economy after the country's accession to the European Union.
"Vilnius is situated in the area along the eastern EU border, which is especially convenient for building the logistics centre here to attract transit freight flows from the EU and CIS countries. It will also help to create new business service centres," president of Lithuanian Carriers Association, Algimantas Kondrusevicius, says. He added that "a freight village" in Vilnius would be built considering the European experience and become an integral part of the Europe's network of logistic centres.
Vilnius logistics centre will be administered and operated by a specially founded public company, which is to include the project initiators, Vilnius city municipality, and Vilnius county administration. The centre will provide the following services: cargo reloading, customs and long-term storage, cargo distribution, parking, customs mediators, insurance and other services.

Lietuvos Dujos has reported preliminary Q1 results
Lithuania's natural gas company Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), set to privatization, reported an unaudited net profit of LTL 49.3 million for the first quarter of 2003, a 55 percent rise on the same time last year when the profit made LTL 31.8 million. The company earned LTL 45.5 million from gas distribution and gas transportation (LTL 23.8 million in 2002).
Rimas Masalskas, the head of Public Relations Department at Lietuvos Dujos, has reported that the company earned LTL 3.8 million from financial and investment activities (LTL 8.5 million in 2002) and incurred losses of LTL 0.06 million from other activities (LTL 0.5 million in 2002).
The company's Q1 sales and services reached LTL 160.4 million this year, a 26-percent rise from January-March of last year.
It has been reported that the pre-conditions for the good results in January-March 2003 were the unusually cold weather, the growing number of gas consumers and the larger market sharing.

Wave of bankruptcies has swept trade companies off
A huge bankruptcy wave has swept the Lithuanian trade sector out - the number of bankrupt wholesalers and retailers accounted for 32 percent of total bankruptcy cases in the country over the first three months of this year.
In January-March, the number of initiated bankruptcy cases made up 164, a rise of 24.4 percent year-on-year. In January, 82 local companies were announced bankrupt; in February and March, the figure made 33 and 46 respectively.
SoDra, the Social Insurance Fund, was the most active institution in bringing bankruptcy cases to the court.
(Kauno Diena)

Telekomas will try to stop fleeing clients
The new general manager of Lietuvos Telekomas (LT) Kjell-Ove Blom said he planned to reduce the number of disconnected fixed-line customers but did not disclose the means that the company will undertake in order to achieve this goal. The new general manager said that first of all he would try to find out what has been done so far and clarify the reasons why customers renounce fixed-line services.
The number of LT clients amounted to 893,000 as of March 2003, 4.6 percent less than in the beginning of the year and 20 percent less if compared to the relevant period last year. LT revenues declined by 17 percent, down to LTL 203.956 million over the first quarter of 2003 year-on-year. Company's net profit shrank 10.5 times, down to LTL 2.033 million.
Last year, the consolidated revenues of LT group amounted to LTL 968.212 million, 8.5 percent less than in 2001.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios, Respublika)

Wednesday 7th of May, 2003

Lithuanian beer market shrunk over the four months of the year
The Lithuanian beer market shrank by 7 percent over the first four months of this year, compared to the same period in 2002, and reached 65.44 million litres.
According to the data provided by the Lithuanian Brewers' Association, the domestic beer sales of 11 Lithuanian beverages, members of the association, made 20.34 million litres in April, a 6.9 percent decline in year-on-year terms.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus, Lithuania's leading beer producer, recorded a year-on-year drop of 11.4 percent in beer sales for the January-April period. The company, controlled by the Nordic group Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), sold 30.78 million litres of beer during the four months of 2003, compared to sales of 34.73 million litres in the respective period in 2002.
Kalnapilis and Vilniaus Tauras, both majority owned by The Danish Brewery Group, came in second with combined beer sales of 16.04 million litres for the four months of 2003, down by 4.2 percent on the same time last year.
Gubernija, based in the northern Lithuanian town of Siauliai, reported sales of 7.01 million litres for the four-month period, a 2.4 percent decline year-on-year.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus had a 47 percent share of the domestic beer market in the first four months of this year, followed by Kalnapilis and Vilniaus Tauras with a combined market share of 24.5 percent, Gubernija with 10.5 percent, and Ragutis, controlled by Finland's Olvi, with 9.1 percent.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Lithuanian credit insurers will control half of the Baltic market
The Lithuanian credit insurance company UAB Lietuvos Draudimo Kreditu Draudimas (LDKD) is planning to thrust actively into Latvian and Estonian markets. The Lithuanian company will be operating directly and will actively collaborate with insurance broker companies.
Eventually, LDKD is likely to occupy 50 percent of the Baltic credit insurance market; presently, the company controls 65 percent of the market in Lithuania.
In 2002, Lithuanian credit insurance market grew by 18 percent; LTL 15.8 million were written in premiums. Experts say that the market has enough space to expand as the overall possibilities of the trade credit market accounts for some LTL 30 million. Verslo Zinios

The largest Lithuanian producers ignored AgroBalt exhibition
The traditional exhibition of agriculture, food and packages, AgroBalt, that was organised for the 12th time this year is losing its authority among Lithuanian businesspeople. This year, only 182 participants were registered while the number accounted for 310 in 1999.
"The exhibition brings no profit; one can see our production in every shop anyway. We would better save the money and take part in some international exhibition abroad", the CEO of the Lithuanian dairy Rokiskio Suris, claimed.
All largest Lithuanian dairies refused participating in the exhibition; they were replaced by Latvian milk processors.
One will not find Lithuanian beer producers in AgroBalt either; the fourth hall in Litexpo exhibition centre that was intended for 'beer culture days' was closed, as the state clerks refused issuing permissions for beer tasting during the exhibition.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Tuesday 6th of May, 2003

Leasing market posted 5 percent growth for the first quarter
Over the first quarter of 2003, the members of the Lithuanian Leasing Association boosted their aggregate portfolio by 5.1 percent up to LTL 1.918 billion. In year-on-year terms, the growth rate made 61 percent.
According to the data released by the association, road vehicle leasing represented 30.2 percent of the leasing portfolio in the first quarter of this year. Industrial equipment and machinery leasing accounted for 22.1 percent, motor car leasing for 15.9 percent, and real property leasing for 17.6 percent.
In terms of leasing portfolio, Hanza Lizingas had the biggest share of the Lithuanian leasing market, at 38.6 percent. VB Lizingas came in second with a 35.8 percent market share and Snoro Lizingas was third with 6.1 percent.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Hronas is expanding production in regions
One of the largest manufacturers of plastic, wooden and aluminium constructions in Lithuania, UAB Hronas, is expanding its network of regional departments. In 2002, Hronas' sales volume grew by 82.4 percent in the regions if compared to 2001 and reached LTL 13.1 million.
Hronas has expanded its network up to 30 departments. This year, the company has opened 2 departments and will open another 4 by the end of the year. Hronas is planning to invest some LTL 250,000 into the development of its network in 2003.
Last year, Hronas manufactured some 86,000 square metres of plastic and wooden constructions and 30,000 square metres of aluminium constructions. The company's O1 turnover made LTL 15.7 million this year.
(Verslo Zinios)

Lithuanian IT market has shown one of the most rapid growths
The market research company IDC forecasts that Russia's and Lithuania's IT markets will be growing at the most rapid pace in the Central and Eastern Europe over the coming years. It is forecasted that in 2001-2006, Russia's IT market will grow by 13.6 percent while that of Lithuania will increase by 11.8 percent; the IT sector's growth in Latvia and Estonia is expected to reach 9.6 and 7.9 percent respectively.
According to the data provided by IDC, the IT market accounted for USD 510 million in the Baltic states in 2002, a rise of 13 percent from 2001.
Lithuania controlled some 34 percent of the Baltic IT market while Estonia and Latvia took up 33.5 and 32.5 percent of the market respectively.
In the Baltic states, some 51 percent of the overall IT expenses are allotted for hardware, 30.4 percent for IT services and 18.7 percent for software.

Monday 5th of May, 2003

The European Union has found Lithuania
Lithuanian construction companies are likely to have the best prospects among other companies in the future EU labour market that will be opened for Lithuania in May next year. Good future is also forecasted for the furniture and wood industry as well as tourism and textile companies. Since Lithuania's accession to the EU is approaching, Russia's companies have plans to move their production to Lithuania, too.
"Sweden was one of the first countries that reported that it would open its labour market for Lithuania; we have received a lot of requests from Swedish construction companies and individual businesspeople asking about the possibility to invite Lithuania's constructors", Adas Liachovicius, the attaché of commerce in Sweden, said.
According to Liachovicius, Swedes are also interested in the possibility to establish a factory of wooden houses in Klaipeda and also move production of packing containers to Lithuania.
Lithuania's representatives in Germany and Great Britain claimed they had noticed a rising interest in Lithuania, too.
(Verslo Zinios)

Lithuanian industry grew by one-fifth over the year
Lithuanian industrial sales grew by 19.5 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. In March compared to February, however, a 4.4 percent drop in industrial sales was recorded.
Lithuania's overall industrial sales reached LTL 7.623 billion (VAT and excise excluded) during the first quarter of this year, the Statistics Department has reported.
In year-on-year terms, first quarter sales in the mining and quarrying sector fell by 5.5 percent, while sales in the manufacturing sector increased by 16 percent. In March versus February, sales in the respective sectors fell by 25.5 percent and 2.4 percent. Total sales in these sectors came to LTL 5.859 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Venta to establish a metal processing company
In order to expand assortment of furniture and thus increase sales volume, Siauliai-based furniture manufacturer AB Venta decided to invest LTL 13 million into the establishment of a metal processing company, UAB Venrola.
"Matching wood and metal enables to expand the assortment and sales market", Vytenis Sopis, the head and board chairman at Venta, says.
The new company will employ 100-150 people.
This year, AB Venta posted a Q1 profit of LTL 0.911 million, a rise of 2.7 percent if compared to the respective period in 2001. Over the three months of this year, Venta manufactured wooden chairs and tables for LTL 13.361 million, an increase of 35.5 percent if compared to 2002. The company is anticipating a turnover of LTL 55 million for this year. Venta is one of the largest employers in Siauliai region (it employs 840 people); the company created 134 new working places over the last year.
(Verslo Zinios)

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