Observer "Lietuva"
WEEK 32nd

Saturday 9th of August, 2003

VP Market boosted its turnover
Sales of VP Market, operator of the biggest Baltic retail chain, accounted for LTL 1.967 billion for the first seven months of 2003, a rise of 17.2 percent if compared to LTL 1.678 billion for the same period last year. VP Market controls 241 trade centres in the Baltic States – 177 in Lithuania, 63 - in Latvia and 1 in Estonia.
On Friday, VP Market opened a new trade centre Maxima, the 17th Maxima centre in Lithuania, in Vilkaviskis, South-Eastern Lithuania. The new trade centre with the area of 1,650 square metres employs 63 people.
In is planned that the annual turnover of VP Market in the Baltic States will make EUR 1 billion in 2003.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Meat export
Over the seven months of this year, if compared to the same period in 2002, export of meat and its products increased by 21 percent while import grew by 37.3 percent.
In January-July, 5.205 thousand tons of meat and its products were exported from Lithuania. Presently, Lithuanian companies have a right to export not only fresh beef but also pork and pork products. Permission for pork export came to force beginning July 30 this year.
13 Lithuanian meat processors are allowed to export their production to the EU countries.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Prices declined in July
Since prices of foodstuff and other goods have declined, a 0.8-percent deflation was registered in July in Lithuania. This has been the biggest drop of monthly prices since July 2001 when prices declined by 0.8 percent, too.
The Statistics Department predicted a 0.3 percent deflation for July. So far this year, inflation was reported only for Mach and June with consumer price index (CPI) rising by 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively versus previous month.
The CPI was weighed down by a 1.7 percent drop in prices of foodstuffs and soft drinks, as well as a 2.8 percent decline in prices of clothing and footwear and a 2.4 percent decrease in communications tariffs in July.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika)

Friday 8th of August, 2003

Export rose by 6.7 percent
Lithuanian export volume rose by 6.7 percent in the first half of 2003, if compared to same period in 2002, while import increased by 2.3 percent. According to preliminary data based on customs declarations, Lithuania's six-month exports reached LTL 10.354 billion, while import made LTL 13.852 billion.
The country's foreign trade deficit shrank by 8.8 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 3.499 billion in January-June. Exports to the European Union declined by 7.5 percent over the period, while exports to CIS countries shrank by 9.7 percent. Imports from the EU, grew by 1.6 percent, and from CIS countries increased by 2.8 percent. The European Union was Lithuania's main export destination, accounting for 43.2 percent of the total exports in the first six months of 2003. Imports from the EU states represented 45.5 percent of the total volume.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Real estate prices will come closer to the European level
Specialists of the real estate company Ober Haus and Sampo bank forecast that real estate prices would be growing by 5-10 percent every year. Deividas Raipa, the head of Retail Banking Department at Sampo bank, says that the interest rate of housing loans has already reached level of the European Union, yet real estate prices are much lower than they are in the EU countries. Therefore, according to specialists, now is the best time to acquire real estate.
Over the last two years, housing loan interest rate considerably declined due to lower interest margin and base interest. Moreover, borrowing procedure is much simpler: banks do not require life insurance and ask for a lower initial payment.
Housing loan portfolio in Lithuanian banks rose by 26.2 percent over the first half of this year and reached LTL 1.289 billion.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Juridical procedures will be following privatisation of Stumbras
Privatisation epopee of the most expensive Lithuanian alcohol producer Stumbras continues: yesterday, Latvijas Balzams addressed Vilnius District Court. Management of the company expects that the process of Stumbras privatisation will be suspended, as it happened with the privatisation of the Lithuanian shipping company Lietuvos Juru Laivininkyste.
Bennet Distributos may also address the court.
The State Property Fund (SPF) erased the Latvian company from the list of tenderers in the public tender on Stumbras privatization upon receipt of reports of competent Lithuania's public institutions, allegedly evidencing unreliability of this bidder. Finally the Lithuania's alcohol wholesaler Mineraliniai Vandenys was declared the winner of the tender.
Vytautas Makauskas, the press representative of the State Security Department, says that S.P.I. controls 90 percent of shares in Latvijas Balzams. "The group is registered abroad; it has a confusing system of privileges. The Security Department asked Latvijas Balsams to provide information about the real owner of the company; we did not know who in fact controlled the shares. Yet, we did not get the answer. This was the major thing that raised doubts about the company's reliability", Makausksas explained.
Meanwhile, Juris Gulbis, the CEO and the board chairman at Latvijas Balzams, says that all requested information about the company's shareholders has been presented.
(Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Kauno Diena)

Thursday 7th of August, 2003

Gas import has grown
Imports of natural gas to Lithuania made 1.721 billion cubic meters in the January-July this year, an increase 17.8 percent if compared to the respective period last year when the figure accounted for 1.461 billion cubic meters. In July sales to Lithuania's consumers made 139.2 million cubic meters of natural gas, an increase of 8.8 percent from July 2002; sales of Dujotekana accounted for 58.8 million cubic meters with further 65.4 million cubic meters being acquired by the fertilizer producer Achema for its own needs and 15 million cubic meters being sold by Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas).
(Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika)

Lithuania's GDP will grow by 6.8 percent
The Ministry of Finance has improved prognosis of Lithuania's growth of economy from 6.1 percent up to 6.8 percent.
The forecasted growth of GDP for 2004 remained set at 6.2 percent while in 2005 and 2006 GDP growth is expected to make 6.5 percent and 6 respectively. According to the Ministry of Finance, economy development will be stimulated by changes related to the country's accession to the European Union.
In August, the confirmed program of Lithuania's economy will be presented to the general directorate of economy and finance at the European Commission.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios)

Computer wholesalers keeps boosting their turnovers
Elko Kaunas, wholesaler of hardware and software, posted turnover of LTL 29.6 million for the first half of the year, an increase of 28.1 percent if compared to the respective period last year when the figure made LTL 23.1 million.
"Usually, second half of the year is more active than the first one", Giedrius Armanavicius, the head of Elko Kaunas, says. He expects that this year the company will boost its sales volume by 36-45 percent up to LTL 75-80 million.
Another Lithuanian computer wholesaler GNT Lietuva reported H1 turnover of LTL 101.1 million, a rise of 9.3 percent from last year while Acme Kompiuteriu Komponentai reached turnover of LTL 21 million and showed the growth of 43.8 percent from 2002.
(Verslo Zinios)

Lithuania's residents left LTL 16 million in casinos this year
Lithuania's residents lost LTL 16.053 million in domestic casinos and gambling halls in the first half of 2003, with the biggest lump of LTL 7.19 million going to the pockets of Olympic Casino Group Baltija. Last year, Lithuania's residents left nearly LTL 12 million at gambling houses.
Gambling operators reported revenues of LTL 64.421 million for January-June 2003. Winnings paid out during the period made LTL 48.368 million.
Revenues of Olympic Casino Group Baltija accounted for LTL 24.651 million while winnings stood at LTL 17.461 million for the first six months of 2003.
Casino Planet, the operator of two gambling houses, reached LTL 16.054 million in revenues and paid out LTL 12.301 million in winnings.
Lithuania lures gamblers with 8 casinos and 18 slot machine centres, 434 slot machines of unlimited jackpot (A category), 229 slot machines of limited jackpot (B category) and 71 gambling tables. Moreover, 34 betting centres have been opened.
(Kauno Diena)

Wednesday 6th of August, 2003

Beer market has shrunk
Sales volume of beer declined by 6.3 percent in Lithuania in January-July this year if compared to the respective period last year; the figure shrank from 151.91 million litres down to 142.94 million litres.
According to the data provided by the Lithuanian Brewers' Association that unites ten largest Lithuanian breweries, sales of beer in July when weather was hot made 30.49 million litres, similar to 30.48 million in July 2002.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus remained the leader of the market with 48.8 percent; the company sold 69.7 million litres of beer over the seven months of this year, a drop of 7.2 percent if compared to January-July 2002.
Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe controls 23.2 percent of the market while Gubernija and Ragutis have a share of 10.8 and 9 percent in the beer market respectively.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Sugar sales have dropped
Consumption of sugar produced by Lithuanian sugar factories shrank by 8.4 percent in January-July this year if compared to 2002. This year, sugar factories sold 45,600 tons of sugar.
According to the data provided by Cukrus association, 11,800 tons of sugar were sold in Lithuania in July, an increase of 53.2 percent if compared to July last year.
Over the seven months of this year, Lithuanian sugar factories exported 10,500 tons of over-quota sugar while last year the figure made only 83 tons.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios)

Unemployment rate has grown
Lithuania's unemployment rate edged up by 0.1 percentage points in July over the previous month and reached 9.5 percent as of August 1. The unemployment made 10.7 percent as of August 1, 2002. However, since the beginning of this year the Labour Exchange has been applying a new methodology, which employs lower indicator of the labour force.
In August 1, the number of officially registered jobless people made 153,900, some 17.4 percent less over the same period last year. The growth in unemployment rate was propelled by registration of school graduates at the labour exchange.
The highest unemployment level was registered in Druskininkai (20.2 percent), Mazeikiai (19.8 percent) and Pasvalys (19.9 percent), while the lowest rate was recorded in Elektrenai (3.9 percent), Kretinga (3.9 percent) and the district of Trakai (4 percent).
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Sruggle in the mobile communications market continues
The Lithuanian mobile operator Bite GSM has reported that there is no mobile operator in Lithuania, which would control more than half of the overall market. According to the data provided by Bite, Omnitel controlled 49.88 percent of mobile communications clients' market while Bite and Tele2 had a share of 27.1 and 23.02 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, representatives of Omnitel stated last week that Omnitel has 50 percent, Bite – 24.25 percent and Tele2 – 25.75 percent of the market.
Darius Masionis, the CEO of Bite, says that the company is planning to reach turnover of LTL 400 million this year. H1 turnover of Bite GSM grew by 24.5 percent up to LTL 192.6 million this year if compared to 2002. As of the end of June, Bite had 479 thousand clients of mobile communications.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Tuesday 5th of August, 2003

Purchaser of Stumbras has not been announced officially as yet
The public tender commission rejected one of five bids filed in a public tender on the sell-off of the key Lithuania's vodka producer Stumbras. The commission rejected a bid filed by the consortium of the biggest Baltic distillery Latvijas Balzams and the CEO of the distillery Juris Gulbis. The consortium has offered LTL 158 million for a holding in Stumbras.
The State Property Fund (SPF) shrugged off a bid filed by the Latvian company on information about unreliability of this potential buyer produced by competent Lithuania's public institutions.
The second highest price for a stake in the distillery – LTL 152 million – has been offered by the Lithuania's alcohol wholesaler Mineraliniai Vandenys, owned by the MG Baltic concern.
The initial price of a 91.95 percent stake in Stumbras has been pegged at LTL 107 million.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Kauno Diena, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Turnover of Varos Group rose by one-third
The group of IT companies, Varos Group, posted turnover of LTL 22.5 million for the first half of this year, an increase of 32 percent if compared to the respective period last year. Managers of the company say that the growth was predetermined by the successful implementation of the expansion strategy in the Baltic States, as 41 percent of the income was received from companies in Latvia and Estonia.
This year, Varos Group is going to reach turnover of LTL 53 million. It is expected to receive some 50 percent of the groups' income in Lithuania by 2005.
(Verslo Zinios)

Milkmen were getting profit from the state, too
One of the largest Lithuanian milk processors Rokiskio Suris posted an unaudited H1 net profit of LTL 4.916 million while the company incurred losses of LTL 6.8 million during the respective period last year.
"The company earned some profit thanks to the LTL 4 million support from the state. Besides, we sold some products at higher prices in the local market and reduced production costs", the head of the company Antanas Trumpa said. According to Trumpa, the company sold more production this year, yet its turnover remained the same in January-June this year (LTL 168 million) because of the lower US dollar rate. Rokiskio Suris exports some 51 percent of its production.
Following the international accounting standards, Rokiskio Suris incurred a loss of LTL 3.894 million in 2002 while the consolidated turnover of the group grew by 6.6 percent up to LTL 374.15 million last year.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Monday 4th of August, 2003

Lindra is going to be a leader without striving for a quick profit
The Lithuanian insurance company Lindra grew the most – 39.3 percent – in terms of non-life insurance premiums over the first half of the year and is going to become a leader of the insurance market over the coming year. Owners of the company say that Lindra will not be striving to reach high profits for the nearest period.
"Our goal is to win share in the market, not to post the highest profit; we will aim to be a leader of the market over the coming years", Wlodimierz Soinski, a board member at the Polish insurance company PZU S.A. that controls Lindra, says.
In the first half-year, Lindra controlled 9.05 percent of the non-life insurance market in Lithuania (6.4 percent in H1 in 2002) and was ranked the third after Lietuvos Draudimas and ERGO Lietuva.
Lindra posted a net profit of LTL 352,000 for H1 while the life insurance company Lindra Gyvybes Draudimas incurred a loss of LTL 25,000.
Over the six months of this year, the non-life insurance market shrank by 1.8 percent in Lithuania.
(Verslo Zinios)

IT wholesalers are ready for the new trade season
IT retailers and wholesalers are going to present new offers for both business and home users for the new September season, as sales of hardware and software usually grow in July-December period. IT wholesalers expect to sell more LCD monitors and laptops over the second half of the year.
According to the data provided by GNT Lietuva, some 14-15 thousand LCD monitors were sold in Lithuania in the first half-year.
GNT Lietuva sold more than 8,000 LCD monitors in January-June this year and is planning to reach sales of 25,000 by the end of the year. The company anticipates that in total, some 40,000 LCD monitors will be sold in Lithuania this year.
Meanwhile, the IT retailer BMS keeps boosting sales of laptops. Moreover, BMS is planning to launch sales of digital video cameras, DVD equipment and high quality video and audio systems in the second half-year.
(Verslo Zinios)

LTL 15-20 are spent on flowers per year
Some 50 million flowers are grown in Lithuania per year; roses make some 8 million. Lithuanian florists say that on the average, a Lithuanian resident spends some LTL 15-20 on flowers per year, yet they claim that prices of flowers are too low in the country and complain about importers of cheap flowers of low quality.
It has been estimated that turnover of the retail flower market makes some LTL 60 million while that of wholesale accounts for LTL 30 million in Lithuania.
In summer, Lithuanian flowers control up to 20 percent of the market while in winter the figure declines down to several percent.
It is suspected that illegal wholesale trade of flowers makes some LTL 2 million in Lithuania.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika)

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