Observer "Lietuva"
WEEK 49th

Saturday 6th of December, 2003

Vichy Classique – the most popular table water in the Baltics
The data of the research carried out by the market research company AC Nielsen shows that Vichy Classique is the favourite table water in the Baltics.
The sales of Vichy Classique in the Baltic countries totalled 14.3 million litres over the first ten months of the year. The water held a 10 percent market share.
The closest competitor of Vichy Classique is Bonaqua, which controls an 8 percent share of the Baltic table water market.
Representatives of Svyturys-Utenos Alus, the producer of Vichy Classique, say the water is second or third in the market in each of the three countries but the water is the leader of the market taking into account the sales in all three countries.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios)

VP Markets exceeds its 2002 turnover
Lithuania's VP Market, the operator of the largest retail chain in the Baltic countries, reported total sales of EUR 926.4 million for the first 11 months of 2003, achieving an 18.2 percent growth in year-on-year terms.
VP Market announced early this year that it expected its full-year revenues to cross the billion-euro threshold in 2003.
Ignas Staskevicius, CEO of VP Market, said the group was well on its way to meet the revenue target thanks to rapid expansion of the chain in Latvia and Lithuania, as well as the growing purchasing power of consumers.
VP Market opened a new Saulute store in Sakiai, in central Lithuania, on Friday, with plans to open more than 10 new stores in Lithuania and Latvia by the end of this month.
At present, VP Market operates a chain of 252 stores under the brand names of Minima, Media, Maxima and Saulute (T-Market) in the three Baltic countries, of which 182 stores are in Lithuania, 69 in Latvia and one in Estonia.
(Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas)

Unemployment rate edges up to 9.7 percent in Lithuania
Lithuania's unemployment rate edged up by 0.5 percentage points in November, compared with October, to 9.7 percent as of December 1, amid a seasonal decline in labour demand and temporary employment, the country's Labor Exchange has reported.
The jobless rate in Lithuania plunged to four-year lows of 9.2 percent in November. The jobless rate stood at 10.7 percent in December of 2002.
The number of officially registered unemployed people was 157,200 as of early December this year, some 15.8 percent or 29,400 unemployed less than a year ago, and 4.6 percent or nearly 7,000 jobless less from early November.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika)

Friday 5th of December, 2003

Dvarcioniu Keramika had a successful November
Lithuania's Dvarcioniu Keramika, the leading manufacturer of ceramic tiles in the Baltic countries, reported sales of LTL 44.154 million for the first 11 months of 2003, a 6.8 percent rise in year-on-year terms.
Dvarcioniu Keramika's sales for November increased by 19.8 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 4.567 million. Sales on the domestic market grew by 18.8 percent over this period.
The company's total exports for the 11 months rose by 8.54 percent, year-on-year, as its sales to the Nordic countries surged by 32.4 percent, sales to Latvia and Estonia by 27 percent, and sales to Russia by 10.6 percent.
(Verslo Zinios)

Five-star rating for Stikliai
Commission on Accommodation Services has classified 11 Lithuanian hotels and two guest houses. The highest rating of five stars has been awarded to Stikliai hotel in Vilnius. It is the only hotel in Lithuania to be awarded the five-star rating in Lithuania.
Vilnius-based hotel Holiday Inn Vilnius and Druskininkai-based Violeta have been awarded the four-star rating, while three stars have been given to Vilnius hotel Reval Hotel Lietuva, Palanga hotels Alanga and Meduza, as well as Anyksciai hotel Mindaugo Karuna.
There are over 200 hotels in Lithuania but the Commission on Accommodation Services has classified only 34 of them. The hotels that fail to apply for the star rating will have to pay the full 18 percent VAT tax instead of the preferential 5 percent tax. Besides, a fine can be imposed for such hotels as well.
(Verslo Zinios)

Sales of Klaipedos Baldai rise
Klaipedos Baldai, Lithuania's number one furniture manufacturer in terms of sales, reported a 38 percent growth in sales for the first 11 months of 2003, to LTL 94.026 million from LTL 68.138 million a year ago.
The furniture manufacturer, which is controlled by the SBA multi-business group, said its 11-month exports soared by 38 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 80.906 million.
In November 2003 versus November 2002, the company's total sales rose by 25.1 percent to LTL 9.632 million. Exports increased by 2.9 percent to LTL 6.869 million, while domestic sales nearly doubled to LTL 2.763 million.
(Verslo Zinios)

Thursday 4th of December, 2003

Panevezio Aurida will expand in CIS by opening new warehouses
UAB Panevezio Aurida started the production of compressors for cargo vehicles manufactured in the CIS countries. Panevezio Aurida will open four warehouses in Russia and one in Ukraine in an attempt to take the product closer to the final customer.
Redas Klupsas, CEO of Panevezio Aurida, says the company has used the services of intermediaries to sell their production for the final customer so far. This year, after the company started the production of compressors for the Russian industry giants KaMAZ, MAZ, PAZ, ZIL, KRAZ and LAZ, the need to change the sales strategy appeared.
Panevezio Aurida expects the compressor sales to rise by 17.5 percent this year compared to 2002. The company managed to increase its turnover by 9.5 percent, although the profit plunged by 50 percent. Klupsas says the reason for the plunge was the slumping dollar rate. Panevezio Aurida predicts its profit to increase five-fold next year and reach LTL 2 million.
Panevezio Aurida is currently designing a new compressor, which will be intended for Czech and Polish vehicles. The company is also creating a device for trolleybuses and trams in cooperation with the scientists from Kaunas University of Technology.
(Verslo Zinios)

Pension reform exceeded the boldest expectations
Ministry of Social Security Labour is expected to announce on Thursday that almost 440,000 Lithuanians have signed pension accumulation agreements with private pension funds. The number has exceeded the boldest forecasts and surprised pension fund managers, as well as state officials.
It is worth noting that the first participants of the pension reform are willing to risk – most of them have chosen the riskier, although possibly more profitable funds. VB Investicij? Valdymas reports that 25 percent of clients have chosen VB Pensija 1 fund, while the remaining 75 percent signed agreements with the more progressive VB Pensija 2. Clients of Hansabankas have also preferred Pensija 2 (51 percent) and Pensija 3 (39 percent) funds that are more risky.
(Respublika, Kauno Diena)

Three Lithuanian Banks in the list of The Banker
Three Lithuania's banks - Vilniaus Bankas, Snoras and Nord/LB Lietuva showed up in the ranking of top one hundred Central and Eastern European (CEE) banks, compiled by the prominent banking edition The Banker.
Hansabankas, the second-largest Lithuania's bank by assets, failed to enter the rating. However, the pan-Baltic financial group Hansabank, the owner of Hansabankas, ranked the 16th in the top 100 CEE listing, boasting of the highest ranking among the Baltic banks.
Vilniaus Bankas, the SEB-operated top Lithuania's bank, ranked 43rd. Estonia's Uhispank and Latvia's Unibanka, both owned by Swedish SEB group, ranked 45th and 58th respectively.
Snoras, the fourth largest Lithuania's bank by assets, was 78th, while Nord/LB Lietuva ranked 95th.
Heading this year's Top 100 Central and Eastern European listing is Bank Handlowy, followed by Bank Pekao and Bank Przemyslowo-Handlowy, all Polish banks.
(Respublika, Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas)

Wednesday 3rd of December, 2003

Carriers will freeze more money for deposits and guarantees
The participation of a carrier in the system of TIR documents is defined by a number of rules and requirements. Lithuanian carriers are concerned about the new requirement of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which comes into force next year. The requirement says that the TIR system entrance guarantee is raised from USD 5,000 to USD 8,000, while the additional guarantee for high-value cargo is set at USD 50,000. The guarantees must be delivered in a form of money deposit or a guarantee from a bank.
Lithuanian association of carriers Linava says it has negotiated a sample of the guarantee with the Lithuanian banks. Every carrier must now negotiate individual guarantee conditions with a bank. Linava cannot influence negotiations between a carrier and a bank. Algimantas Kondrusevicius, president of Linava, says a one-year USD 8,000 guarantee might cost LTL 300-600 at the Lithuanian banks.
Experts say that small carriers may find it hard to pay the deposits or guarantees. They think that the same requirements should not be applied for large and small enterprises.
(Verslo Zinios, Respublika)

Privatisation of Alita declared illegal
The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office has said that the country's privatization agency broke the law when it invited a consortium of Alita's senior executives to negotiate a deal for the sale of a majority stake in the state-run alcoholic beverage company. The prosecutors made this conclusion in a report to the parliament's Anti-Corruption Committee.
Povilas Milasauskas, head of the State Property Fund (SPF), would not comment on the prosecutors' conclusions on Tuesday, saying that he had not yet seen them.
The consortium, which has been named by the SPF the winning bidder for an 83.77 percent stake in Alita, is comprised of Vytautas Junevicius, chief executive of Alita, and three other senior executives of the company.
The Prosecutor General's Office has established that the privatization body's decision to negotiate a deal with the consortium, which submitted the fourth-highest bid, went against the Law on the Privatization of State-Owned and Municipal Property, as well as public tender regulations.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Kausta contracted for construction of major Lithuanian arena
The Kaunas-based construction company Kausta has been contracted to carry out concreting work at the new Ozo Arena in Vilnius.
The value of the contract is more than LTL 6 million. In September this year, Kausta laid the foundation of the new leisure complex.
The 20,000 square metres arena for 10,000 spectators is to be finished by October 2004. There are plans to hold the 2007 European men's basketball championship here.
The aggregated investments into the construction of the arena will reach LTL 65 million. The main coordinator of the project is UAB Ogmios Astra Pramogu Centras, while Vilnius municipality is its initiator.
(Verslo Zinios)

Tuesday 2nd of December, 2003

Assets of the Lithuanian banks grew by 17 percent
The aggregate assets of ten Lithuanian commercial banks grew by LTL 2.673 billion, or 16.8 percent, to LTL 18.613 billion during the first ten months of 2003, the Bank of Lithuania has announced. The report does not cover foreign bank branches operating in Lithuania.
The combined loan portfolio of ten banks reached LTL 9.615 billion as of late October, rising by 34.6 percent, or LTL 2.471 billion since the start of this year. The aggregate volume of bank deposits increased by 11.9 percent, or LTL 1.354 billion, to LTL 12.736 billion during the ten-month period, of which private individuals' deposits grew by 7 percent, or LTL 480.4 million, to LTL 7.295 billion.
The ten commercial banks had a total of LTL 1.967 billion in own capital as of late October, an increase of 13.4 percent, or LTL 231.8 million, since the start of the year. Vilniaus Bankas had the largest own capital, at LTL 913.2 million.
(Respublika, Verslo Zinios)

Audimas steps into Estonia
Audimas, Lithuania's largest manufacturer of sports and leisure wear, opened its first retail outlet in Tallinn last weekend, with plans to expand its retail network in Estonia to four stores in the next three years.
"Our business expansion strategies are aimed at building Audimas' brand presence in all Baltic countries," Arvydas Povilaitis, the company's sales director, said in a statement. Audimas expects to open its second retail outlet in Estonia next spring.
At present, Audimas runs a chain of 15 retail outlets in the Baltic countries, including 12 in Lithuania and 2 in Latvia.
The sportswear producer exports around two-thirds of its output, with export destinations including Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

New stores allow Apranga to grow
Apranga, Lithuania's top retail clothing chain, has said its total sales for the first 11 months of 2003, including sales in Latvia, surged by 27.5 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 85.229 million.
Andrius Jovaisa, CFO of the company, says there are two reasons for the rapid growth. The first is the expansion of the company's outlet network in Lithuania and Latvia. The company has opened three new stores and renovated one in Lithuania this year, while five new stores have been open in Riga. The second reason for the successful operations is the growing purchasing power of the population.
Andrius Jovaisa says the Lithuanians and Latvians no longer buy cloths in a market and return to the stores.
(Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios)

Monday 1st of December, 2003

Stumbras has disagreements with retailers
UAB Mineraliniai Vandenys, new owners of Stumbras, Lithuania's largest alcoholic beverage producer, proposed different distribution conditions for retailers and have not been met with open hands. While the negotiations with the retail chains are in progress, the production of Stumbras disappears from the shelves and allows other producers to take advantage.
VP Market, the largest retail chain in the Baltics, is yet to sign the agreement with Stumbras. Ignas Staskevicius, CEO of VP Market, says new Stumbras owners terminated the agreement between the two companies saying the agreement was not beneficial for their company. Stumbras has similar problems with Norfos Ma?mena retail chain as well.
Other Lithuanian alcoholic beverage producers say the dispute between Stumbras and retailers gives them the opportunity to boost their sales. However they admit that the disagreements are temporary.
Representatives of Rimi Lietuva and Iki retail chain say they have no disagreements with Stumbras. Inga Skisaker, director of finances at Rimi Lietuva, expects the partnership with Stumbras to be even smoother after the company has been purchased by Mineraliniai Vandenys.

Volume of issued payment cards grows
Lithuanian banks rejoice about the demand for payment cards. Some of the banks have been able to double the amount of issued payment cards since the beginning of the year.
The amount of payment cards issued by Hansabankas has increased by 34 percent this year. Vitalijus Rancevas, head of Hansabankas Payment card department, says the demand for payment cards has exceeded the expectations of the bank. According to Rancevas, one of the main reasons for the growing demand may be a chip Visa card that has been launched by the bank in September.
Vilniaus Bankas has increased its payment card portfolio by 17 percent, while Snoras bank managed to double the number of issued payment cards from 206,800 to 407,900 cards.
Nord/LB Lietuva, Parex Bankas, Nordea Bank Lietuva also report a sharp rise in the number of the issued payment cards.
Lithuanian banks plan to replace the now popular magnetic cards with the modern and safer chip cards. Vilniaus Bankas will launch its chip card in April of 2004, while Nord/LB plans to do the same in the second half of 2004.
(Verslo Zinios)

Vilnius and Klaipeda are the leading regions
The regions of Vilnius and Klaipeda led the ranking of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Lithuania last year, the country's Statistics Department has reported.
In Vilnius GDP per capita surged by 12.3 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 21,000 in 2002. In Klaipeda the figure rose by 6 percent, to LTL 15,900, and in Kaunas, the second largest Lithuania's city, the index climbed 4.5 percent, to LTL 13,900.
The Statistics Department has attributed swift growth of GDP in the region of Vilnius to a 16.2 percent rise in the construction sector, and a 37.3 percent surge in transport and communications sector of the region. Meanwhile, Klaipeda's growth has been associated with a nearly twofold rise in added value created by the fishery sector.
GDP per capita averaged at LTL 14,600 in Lithuania last year.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

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