Observer "Lietuva"
WEEK 44th

Friday 24th of October, 2003

International exhibitions – springboard to the international market
Kedainiai-based producer of ice-cream Vikeda is looking for partners abroad. The company recently participated in the Anuga 2003 exhibition in Germany, where contacts with potential partners in Great Britain, Germany, Portugal and other countries had been made.
During summer months, when the demand for ice-cream is especially high, Vikeda exports 10 percent of its production, while in autumn and winter the number increases to 30 percent. Most of the exported production goes to Germany and the United States. The company also exports to Latvia, Ireland and even Australia.
Vikeda does not fear Lithuania's membership in the European Union., as the production of Vikeda meets the highest standards of the European Union.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Lithuania lacks competitiveness
Lithuania lags behind the Baltic neighbors of Latvia and Estonia, according to the Global Competitiveness Report released on Thursday.
Lithuania ranked 40th in the growth competitiveness rating of 2003. Estonia was 22nd, while Latvia ranked 37th, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) said in a survey of 102 countries.
In the growth competitiveness rating of 2002 Lithuania ranked 38th, however, under the methodology of this year, the country would have slipped to 39th position.
Estonia, which ranked 20th in 2002, also moved several notches down in terms of growth competitiveness. However, under the methodology of this year, last year Estonia would have ranked 27th.
Finland was the world's most competitive economy followed by the United States and Sweden.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Over 120 companies to be sold in December
Over 120 items of state and municipal assets will be offered for privatization in Lithuania in December, the country's State Property Fund (SPF) announced on Thursday.
Blocks of shares in seven public limited companies will be put up for sale on the National Stock Exchange of Lithuania (NSEL) in the period between Novemebr 26 and January 9.
These include the glass manufacturer Aleksotas, the bakeries Siauliu Duona and Panevezio Duona, the grain processor Taurages Grudai, and the car assembly plant in Rokiskis, in eastern Lithuania.
Blocks of shares in 32 private limited companies are planned to be sold by public auction, including 21.85 percent of the construction company Forumas, with the initial selling price set at LTL 508,000.
(Respublika)

Thursday 23rd of October, 2003

Vilniaus Degtine already sold
Poland's Sobieski Dystrybucja, a member of the French group Belvedere, has pledged to pay LTL 20.7 million for a majority stake in Vilniaus Degtine, one of Lithuania's leading vodka producers.
The Lithuanian State Property Fund (SPF) and Sobieski Dystrybucja signed an agreement on the sale and purchase of 82.27 percent of shares in Vilniaus Degtine on Wednesday.
The SPF said the buyer is to pay the money within five workdays after the signing of the agreement, next Wednesday at the latest.
Vilniaus Degtine posted a net profit of LTL 199,600 for the first nine months of 2003, versus a loss of LTL 169,424 in the same period a year ago. The company's nine-month revenues rose by 1.7 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 17.781 million.
(Verslo Zinios)

Power grid posts LTL 15.5 million
Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai (RST), one of Lithuania's two power distribution companies that are currently in the process of privatization, posted a pretax profit of LTL 15.5 million the first nine months of 2003, a 0.9 percent rise year-on-year.
RST's nine-month revenues grew by 6.8 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 505.1 million thanks to rising electricity sales.
The company said its total electricity sales for the nine months went up by 6.1 percent, year-on-year, to 2.394 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), driven up by a 12.5 percent increase in power consumption in the services sector.
The RST power grid covers the regions of Vilnius, Panevezys, Utena and Alytus
The company said earlier this year it targeted a full-year net profit of LTL 24 million with revenues of LTL 682 million.
(Respublika)

Snoras gives up insurance company
Bank Snoras sold its non-life insurance company Snoro Garantas, as Konversbank, the new shareholder of the bank, does not want to take additional risks. The new owner of Snoras Garantas is the Russian insurance company Reso-Garantia. It plans to increase the market share of Snoro Garantas from 2.6 to 10-15 percent over the next 3 or 4 years. Reso-Garantia has plans to expand into Latvia, Estonia and later into the countries of the European Union.
Market analysts say that most Lithuanian banks are attempting to sell their non-life insurance companies. Nord/LB Lietuva has not been able to do that so far.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Wednesday 22nd of October, 2003

Lithuanian GDP grew by 8.1 percent
Lithuania's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 8.1 percent in the first nine months of 2003, compared to the same period last year, according to preliminary estimates.
The Lithuanian Statistics Department released on Tuesday preliminary data showing that the country's GDP totalled LTL 40.028 billion at current prices in the January-through-September period.
Lithuania's GDP expanded by 8.4 percent in the third quarter, year-on-year, to reach LTL 14.306 billion amid strong growth in the manufacturing, construction and trade sectors.
The country's GDP per capita stood at LTL 4,142 in the third quarter, an 8.9 percent rise in year-on-year terms. In the nine-month period, GDP per capita was 11,671 litas.
Lithuania's economy rose by 9.3 percent in the first quarter of this year. The GDP growth figure for the second quarter has been revised up to 6.7 percent from the earlier 6.1 percent.
The Finance Ministry has recently raised its GDP growth forecast for the full year 2003 to 6.8 percent from the previous 6.1 percent.
Lithuania's economy grew by 6.7 percent in 2002.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Profit of Lifosa almost reached LTL 1 million
Lithuania's Lifosa, the largest phosphate fertilizer manufacturer in the Baltic countries, announced a pre-audit net profit of LTL 0.993 million for the first nine months of 2003, versus a loss of LTL 8.614 million in the same period last year.
Lifosa, which is controlled by Russia's mineral fertilizer group Eurochem, posted a net profit of LTL 2.975 million for the first half of this year, based on the international accounting standards.
Lifosa's revenues for the nine months of 2003 reached LTL 324.9 million, an 26.1 percent rise from revenues of LTL 257.707 million for the respective period in 2002.
The company attributed the revenue growth to increased sales of diammonium phosphate fertilizers and a rise in the price of its main product. The US dollar's depreciation against the litas, however, had a negative impact on the plant's revenues.
(Verslo Zinios)

Anyksciu Vynas reports loss of LTL 1.006 million
Anyksciu Vynas, Lithuania's largest wine producer, announced a pre-audit loss of LTL 1.006 million for the first nine months of 2003, down by 67.3 percent from a loss of LTL 3.073 million in the same period last year.
Anyksciu Vynas posted a net profit of LTL 267,400 for the third quarter of this year.
Anyksciu Vynas posted a 4.1 percent rise in sales for the first nine months of 2003 up to LTL 30.7 million from LTL 29.5 million a year ago.
The government's first attempt to sell a 72.93 percent equity stake in Anyksciu Vynas fell through last week after Artrio-2, a Vilnius-based company, pulled out of the privatization deal, saying that it was not in a position to fulfil its commitment to pay LTL 20 million for the block of shares, or LTL 0.56 a share.
A new privatization program is expected to be submitted to the government for approval in November. A new privatization deal could be reached no earlier than in the first quarter of 2004.
(Verslo Zinios)

Tuesday 21st of October, 2003

Turnover of GNT Lietuva increased
Producer of computer equipment and software UAB GNT Lietuva reported a turnover of LTL 161.3 million for the first three quarters of the year. It is an increase of 7.3 percent compared to the same period last year. The company expects its turnover to reach LTL 300 this year, which would be a 16 percent increase in year-on-year terms.
Evaldas Rekus, manager of product marketing at GNT Lietuva, says the main competition in the computer wholesale market is the field of additional value. Companies try to offer a technical service system, effective logistics and other services. Prices have become not the most important factor of the competition.
(Verslo Zinios)

Modern Klaipedos Mediena cuts employees
Klaipedos Mediena (Klaipeda Wood) is undergoing reorganization and has cut more than 200 employees already. Executives of Klaipedos Mediena say that after the modernization of its equipment, it does not need as many employees as before. Vakaru Medienos Grupe (Western Wood Group), owner of Klaipedos Mediena, plans to create new jobs by opening several new factories.
AB Klaipedos Mediena currently produces furniture for IKEA, chipboards and plywood. The department of plywood has undergone renovation recently. Arvydas Zygis, chief executive of the company, says the department can now produce water resistant plywood that can compete in the European market.
The forecasted turnover of Klaipedos Mediena was LTL 138 with the profit reaching LTL 4.5 million. However, the reorganization of the company and compensations for the cut employees might result in a lower profit. The company plans to open a new furniture factory in Kazlu Ruda next year and reach a turnover of LTL 150 million.
(Verslo Zinios)

Holidaymakers rediscover Druskininkai
It is fashionable to rest and undergo treatment in Druskininkai. Tourists from Israel and Germany flock into Druskininkai during summer months, while recent weekends belong to Lithuanians in the resort town near the Polish boarder.
Managers of Druskininkai sanatoriums guess that the flow of tourists increased due to the benefits for health and low prices. A night at some of the sanatoriums costs just LTL 50 including all treatment procedures.
According to the data provided by Druskininkai tourism and business department, more than 50,000 people visited Druskininkai this year. This was one of the most successful seasons for the resort over the last years.
Druskininkai can also boast the largest sanatorium in the Eastern Europe Egle. It can accommodate approximately 1,000 people at the same time. Despite this, the sanatorium was always full during the summer season.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Monday 20th of October, 2003

Lithuania considered safe for investments
Edward Ewing, chief executive of Carlyle, one of the largest investment companies in the world, said he sees investment possibilities in Lithuania. Ewing, speaking with the Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas, said he values Lithuania as a safe country for investments and sees business perspectives in the country as well.
Meanwhile, Rolandas Paksas invited American businessmen to invest in Lithuania. He urged them to use Lithuania as a bridge between the European Union's and Eastern markets.
Carlyle was established in 1987, it controls capital worth more than USD 16 billion.
(Respublika)

More than 2 million cards in the payment card market
Despite the slowest growth rate in recent years, the Lithuanian payment card market revived slightly in the third quarter, with the total number of payment cards climbing over the ceiling of 2 million units.
Earlier this year Lithuania's payment card market was shaken by introduction of microchip cards, which aimed to replace less safe magnetic cards.
According to data provided by ten banks operating in Lithuania, they had issued 2.091million different payment cards as of Oct. 1, up by 30.7 percent since the start of the year. The nine-month turnover of cards reached LTL 7.687 billion, a 53 percent rise over the same period in 2002.
(Respublika)

Turnover of Birstono Mineraliniai Vandenys up by 40 percent
UAB Birstono Mineraliniai Vandenys, one of the largest producers of mineral water in Lithuania, reported a turnover of LTL 6 million for the first nine months of the year. It is an increase of 40 percent compared to the same period last year.
Valentinas Lukosevicius, chief executive of the company, says the newly introduced product – mineral water Aqville – was the key to the success. The company was also able to boost its turnover by active promotion events for its flagship products – Vytautas and Birut? mineral water.
The company plans to reach a turnover of LTL 8 million in 2004. It is controlled by MG Baltic concern.
(Verslo Zinios)

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