Observer "Lietuva"
WEEK 43rd

Saturday 25th of October, 2003

SoDra has already registered over 100,000 pension accumulation agreements
Interest in the new pension saving system is growing at a rapid pace – more than 100,000 agreements between Lithuanian residents and pension saving companies have been already registered in the State Social Insurance fund (Sodra).
According to Mindaugas Mikaila, director of Sodra, residents are interested in the pension reform and eager to sign agreements; however, there is still a shortage of perception and responsibility while signing the agreements.
At this point, most of the agreements in Sodra, 32,000, are registered by Hansa Investicij? Valdymas that has overtaken the previous leader, namely Commercial Union Gyvyb?s Draudimas.
Commercial Union Lietuva Gyvyb?s Draudimas and Vilniaus Bankas' VB Investicij? Valdymas have registered almost 31,000 and over 25,000 private pension saving agreements respectively. Other companies that run pension accumulation business are far behind the mentioned ones.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios)

Scandalous privatisation of Anyksciu Vynas
Privatisation of the Lithuania's leading wine producer Anyksciu Vynas turned into scandalous one. Parliament chairman Arturas Paulauskas says he has information that Artrio-2, the company that won a privatisation tender and later pulled out of a deal, had used the property of Anyksciu Vynas before the privatisation tender results were announced.
According to Paulauskas, representatives of Artrio-2 used vehicles belonging to Anyksciu Vynas, had access to the company's commercial and technological secrets. Small shareholders of Anyksciu Vynas fear that this information can be passed to the company's competitors.
Arturas Paulauskas contacted head of the State Property Fund Povilas Milasauskas for an explanation of the situation in Anyksciu Vynas.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios)

Hansabank nets LTL 48 million profit in Lithuania
Lithuania-based companies within the Baltic's largest financial group Hansabank racked up LTL 48 million in combined nine-month profit this year, a rise of 39 percent over the respective figure in 2002.
Hansabankas has bettered its nine-month pre-audit net gain by 57.2 percent to LTL 57.7 million year-on-year.
Among other companies belonging to the group are Hanza Lizingas, Hansa Investicij? Valdymas, Baltijos Autolizingas, Baltijos Realizacijos Centras, Investicij? Draudimo Brokeris.
(Lietuvos Aidas)

Friday 24th of October, 2003

Privatisation of the largest wine producers stalls
The Vilnius-based alcoholic beverages wholesaler Artrio-2, which won a privatization tender for Anyksciu Vynas, has pulled out of a deal to buy 72.93 percent of shares in Lithuania's leading wine producer.
Ramunas Algimantas Granskas, chairman of the management board of Artrio-2, confirmed that the company had informed the Lithuanian State Property Fund (SPF) that it was withdrawing from the deal to purchase the state-owned shares in Anyksciu Vynas because it had failed to obtain financing from a bank. Artrio-2 expected to borrow money from a foreign bank to finance the acquisition.
Artrio-2, which was expected to pay LTL 20 million, pledged to invest another LTL 6.5 million in the beverage company.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Respublika)

Bank Snoras falls into the hands of the Russians
The board of the Lithuanian central bank on Thursday issued permission to a group that includes the Russian joint-stock company Konversbank and Luxembourg's Incorion Investment Holding Company to hold a qualified share of authorised capital and voting rights in the commercial bank Snoras and give the investor control over the bank.
The central bank board has ruled that the permission will take effect as soon as Konversbank secures permission from the Russian central bank to invest funds in the share capital of Snoras.
Even though no preference will be given to any company in selling a new LTL 25 million share issue of Snoras, it is widely believed that it will be Konversbank that will purchase the shares. (Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Respublika)

More cruise ships are coming to Klaipeda port
More cruise ships are entering Klaipeda port this year. According to the data provided by the Sea Port Directorate (SPD), the flow of cruise ships into the port increased by 17 percent this year. However, the numbers are still low compared to Riga and Tallinn ports.
The SPD registered 28 cruise ships this year and 8,798 passengers. This is an increase of 16.6 and 14.4 percent respectively in year-on-year terms.
Estonian port registered 190 ships and 198,000 passengers, which is an increase of 15 and 49 percent respectively. Meanwhile, 111 cruise ships and 79,194 passengers came to Riga port this year.
Representatives of SPD say the state cut the taxes for cruise ships in 2002 to attract more tourists to the Lithuanian port.
(Verslo Zinios)

Thursday 23rd of October, 2003

Naujoji Ringuva will produce soap for the English
AB Naujoji Ringuva is to sign a contract with the English-based international company to produce antibacterial soap. The contract should boost the turnover of the company by LTL 1.5 million.
Vytautas Meistas, chief executive of Naujoji Ringuva, says the English company will sell their soap in the Central and Eastern European markets.
Naujoji Ringuva is looking for other markets to sell their production. The company started a successful partnership with the Finnish company Henkel Norden this year. Naujoji Ringuva has already produced 130 tons of laundry soap with the Finnish trademark this year.
The Lithuanian soap manufacturer is looking for opportunities in the United States market as well. The Americans have already ordered 3 tons of soap with shea tree butter. This kind of soap is very popular in the US market.
(Verslo Zinios)

Mobile communication surpasses fixed line
Combined revenues of three Lithuania's mobile operators totalled LTL 474.7 million in the first six months of 2003, surpassing the revenues of the fixed-line market 1.8-fold.
Fixed-line operators, meanwhile, reported revenues of LTL 262.4 million for the January-to-June period of this year.
Aggregate revenues of the domestic telecommunications market came in at LTL 947 million in the first half of the year, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has revealed in its latest research report. In the report CRA forecasts that the value of the telecommunications market will exceed LTL 2 billion this year.
Pursuant to the data of the study, Omnitel controlled 57.9 percent of domestic mobile market in terms of revenues. Bite GSM held 27.2 percent of the market, while Tele2 had a 14.9 percent slice.
However, Tele2 has already overtaken Bite in terms of subscribers. As of the end of June, Omnitel serviced 48.4 percent of some 1.868 million active mobile subscribers in Lithuania. Tele2 offered its services to 27.7 percent, while Bite had 24 percent of the total army of subscribers. However, an average income per a subscriber of Bite (LTL 45) exceeded the average income per a subscriber of Tele2 (LTL 21) more than twofold. The average income of Omnitel per a subscriber is LTL 51.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Infobalt exhibition has started
The largest ITT exhibition in the Baltic countries Infobalt started in Vilnius on October 22 and will last to October 25. 215 companies participate in the exhibition this year, a 7.5 percent rise year-on-year.
Lithuania's President Rolandas Paksas visited the exhibition and said afterwards that he felt as Alice in the wonderland. According to him, if at least 300,000 Lithuanians began working with computers and learned to use Internet, the margin would be reached, beyond which unrestrained IT development would begin.
The telecommunications companies Omnitel, Lietuvos Telekomas and Bite GSM have the biggest stands in the exhibition this year. Some of the biggest IT companies of Lithuania, such as Sonex Grupe, Alna, Baltic Amadeus and others decided not to participate in the exhibition and advertise themselves in some other ways.
The exhibition expects to receive no less than 64,000 visitors this year.
(Respublika)

KLASCO operates more profitably
Klaipeda stevedoring company Klasco, owned by the Achema Group, reported net earnings of LTL 5,992 for the first nine months of 2003. The stevedorer posted net losses of LTL 2.96 million for the January-through-September period of 2002. Last year losses reached LTL 15.29 million.
The company escaped losses by trimming the cost price of works by LTL 2 million, to LTL 50.7 million, Klasco has reported.
Klasco handled 5.8 million tons of cargo in January to September period, a growth of 16 percent in year-on-year terms.
The stevedoring company aims to boosts revenues by 18 percent to LTL 129 million and earn profit of approximately LTL 5 million this year.
Achema Group owns a 77.47 percent stake in Klasco. The company Vialogas holds a 7.32 percent stake and the state - a 7.91 percent holding in the stevedoring company as of April 1.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Wednesday 22nd of October, 2003

Agreement on Stumbras sale finally signed
Mineraliniai Vandenys, Lithuania's alcohol wholesaler controlled by the MG Baltic concern, has pledged to pay LTL 152.001 million for Stumbras, the largest vodka producer, and make investments of LTL 40 million into the equity of the distillery within three years.
On Tuesday State Property Fund (SPF) and Mineraliniai Vandenys signed an agreement on purchase and sale of a 91.95 percent stake in Stumbras. The agreement was signed by Povilas Milasauskas, SPF CEO, and Arturas Listavicius, Mineraliniai Vandenys chairman.
Priorities of for development of Stumbras' operations include production of biofuel, marketing and exports. Investments into manufacturing of biofuel at the Silute spirit plant, owned by Stumbras, may reach LTL 15 million in two or three years. Production of biofuel, which, pursuant to the requirements of the EU, should account for 2 percent of fuel consumption, is expected to start in 2004.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas, Kauno Diena)

Turnover of Narbutas Ir Ko grows
UAB Narbutas Ir Ko, one of the largest manufacturers of office furniture in Lithuania, reported 9-month turnover of LTL 34.38 million, an increase of 12 percent in year-on-year terms. The consolidated sales of the company in Lithuania grew by 7 percent and reached LTL 16.39 million.
Meanwhile, the export of the company increased by 16 percent this year and was LTL 17.99 million. Arvydas Paunksnis, chief executive of Narbutas Ir Ko, says the export to Great Britain and Ukraine grew most – by 44 and 37 percent respectively.
Paunksnis is happy to note that Lithuanian banks choose Narbutas Ir Ko as their furniture provider. Hansabankas and Sampo bank have already purchased furniture from the company, while the negotiations with Nord/LB Lietuva will be completed in the nearest future.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas)

Aggregate profits of Lithuanian banks up by 28 pct
Commercial banks operating in Lithuania posted LTL 182.6 million in aggregate profits for the first nine months of 2003, a 28.3 percent increase over the same period in 2002, the central Bank of Lithuania announced on Tuesday.
Vilniaus Bankas reported the highest profit at LTL 85.3 million. It was followed by Hansabankas with a profit of LTL 57.7 million and Nord/LB Lietuva with a profit of LTL 15.3 million.
The following banks reported profits as well: Snoras (LTL 6.2 mln), Parex (LTL 5.7 mln), Ukio Bankas (LTL 3.4 mln), Sampo (LTL 3.3 mln), Siauliu Bankas (LTL 3.1 mln), Medicinos Bankas (LTL 1.3 mln), VB Busto Kreditu ir Obligaciju Bankas (LTL 1 mln), Nord/LB's Vilnius branch (LTL 0.9 million) and the Vilnius branch of Vereins-und Westbank turned a profit of LTL 0.7 million.
The Vilnius branch of Kredyt Bank reported a loss of LTL 0.02 million for the first nine months, while the Lithuanian branch of Nordea Bank Finland posted a loss of LTL 1.1 million for this period.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Tuesday 21st of October, 2003

Largest Lithuanian brewery accused of abusing its market position
Three Lithuanian breweries have accused Svyturys-Utenos Alus, the country's number-one beer producer by sales, of abusing its dominant market position.
The three companies -- Kalnapilis-Tauras Group, Gubernija and Ragutis -- have asked the Lithuanian Competition Council to launch an investigation into possible violation of the country's Competition Law by Svyturys-Utenos Alus.
Svyturys-Utenos Alus has a 48.7 percent share of the domestic beer market this year, followed by Kalnapilis-Tauras with a market share of 23.2 percent, Gubernija with 10.5 percent, and Ragutis with 9.3 percent.
The three companies said this "perverse" situation had arisen from the Competition Council's decision of 2000 to allow Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH) to sell one of the local breweries the Nordic group then controlled. BBH chose to sell its shareholding in Kalnapilis, retaining control of Utenos Alus, which later merged with Svyturys.
Before the competition watchdog's decision, Svyturys had been Lithuania's number-one brewery in terms of sales with a 28.02 percent market share, followed by Utenos Alus with 22.23 percent and Kalnapilis with 19.19 percent.
(Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Sales of Alita up by 23.4 pct
Alita, one of Lithuania's four state-run alcoholic beverage companies slated for privatization, announced net earnings of LTL 5.437 million for the first nine months of 2003, a 23.4 percent rise versus the January-through-September period of 2002.
Nine-month sales climbed by 4.3 percent, i.e., from LTL 63.975 million to LTL 66.741 million.
Vilmantas Peciura, director of finances at Alita, says the successful results were mainly due to rising sales of alcoholic cocktails and vodka. A 1.8-fold surge in prices of concentrated apple juice had a positive influence as well, says Peciura.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios)

Expensive bicycles not popular this year
AB Baltik Vairas, the largest manufacturer of bicycles in Lithuania, does not expect to reach last year's turnover. The company was hurt by the failure to receive a large order for expensive bicycles.
Last year, Baltik Vairas received a large order for expensive bicycles that were sold in the Western European market. This year, the order did not come and despite the rise of 3 percent in sales, the company's turnover is down by 9.3 percent. Baltik Vairas plans to post a turnover of LTL 130 million.
Over the first nine months of the year, the company sold 275,195 bicycles with 89.4 percent of them sold in Western Europe.
(Verslo Zinios)

Monday 20th of October, 2003

Gambling business in wild freedom
Gambling business was legalized only a couple of years ago. Despite the relatively short period, there were numerous amendments to the Gambling Law. However, the situation in the gambling market was and remains poor.
The investigation of daily Lietuvos Rytas revealed that owners of gambling saloons often violate the law. Moreover, lawmakers admit that not a single gambling saloon in Lithuania meets the requirements of the law. They say that the decision was made not to close everything down in order to receive budget revenues.
New routine amendments to the law should come into effect from March of 2004. One can only hope that they will bring at least some order into the gambling market.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Sonex Group grows
Sonex Group, Lithuania's leading information technologies group, reported revenues of LTL 121.2 million for the first nine months of 2003, a 43.1 percent rise in year-on-year terms.
This autumn, Sonex Group acquired Xorex Service, one of the leading computer producers in Belarus with annual sales of around USD 12 million.
Sonex Kompiuteriai, the computer manufacturer owned by the group, expects to boost its annual output to around 25,000 computers this year, up from 21,700 computers in 2002, according to the statement.
Sonex Group, which owns 12 companies in the Baltic countries and Belarus, has said it aims to increase its revenues by more than 40 percent to over LTL 200 million this year, which would make it the largest IT group in the Baltics.
The group posted a pretax profit of LTL 5.2 million for the full year 2002 as its revenues grew by 42.2 percent to LTL 145 million.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Tire recycling plant to open in Kaunas
Kaunas-based company Transausa plans to build a tire recycling plant in Kaunas and start its exploitation next year. This year Transausa won the state tender to store and recycle used tires.
According to the official estimates, there are over 12,000 tons of tires lying around in dumps, roadsides and garages. Unofficially, the number would be much higher. Transausa plans to process approximately 7,000 tons of tires per year.
Algirdas Bargelis, professor at Kaunas University of Technology, says the process of tire recycling is not hazardous for environment. Moreover, the three materials obtained after the tire processing can be used in other industries. Transausa is already looking for possible purchasers of the recycled materials.
(Respublika)

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