Observer "Lietuva"
WEEK 50th

Saturday 13th of December, 2003

Lithuania demonstrates the fastest growth in Europe
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas expects Lithuanian GDP to grow 8 percent this year. Brazauskas predicts that no other country in Europe will post such kind of growth. Latvia and Estonia will not able to boast such a significant GDP growth too.
Lithuanian Department of Statistics has already announced that the Lithuanian GDP grew 8.4 percent over the third quarter of the year compared to the same period last year. The GDP growth over the first three quarters of the year was 8.1 percent in Lithuania. Meanwhile, Latvian economy grew 7.4 percent over nine months of 2003. The Estonian central bank predicts that the Estonian GDP will grow 4.4 percent this year.
Lithuanian economy grew by 6.7 percent last year.

Hyper Maxima shopping centre opened in Kaunas
The largest retail chain in the Baltic states VP Market opened Hyper Maxima supermarket in Kaunas on Friday. It is the third supermarket under such a name in Lithuania. The shopping centre was has been built in less than six months.
Ignas Stakeviius, CEO of VP Market, thinks Kaunas has enough of trade space now. VP Market will now direct all its efforts for the construction of the shopping and entertainment centre Akropolis. The unique centre should be opened in Kaunas in 2005.
VP Market has invested LTL 73 million into the construction of Hyper Maxima. The total trade space of the new supermarket is 19,000 square metres.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Kauno Diena)

International hotel chains look for partners in Lithuania
Well-known international hotel chains are exploring the situation in Lithuania and possibilities to establish themselves in the growing Lithuanian hotel market.
Park Plaza Hotels Europe has already expressed its wish to sign franchise contracts with the Lithuanian hotels, while Corinthia hotel chain is looking for partners in Vilnius as well.
Evalda i_kauskien, president of the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants, says these are not the only hotel chains looking for partners in Lithuania, as at least four other offers are already on the table.
Park Plaza Hotels Europe usually owns four-star hotels. It has franchise agreements with 23 hotels in Europe. The company owns such well-known names as Radisson Hotels&Resorts, Carlsson Wagonlit Travel, Fridaysir and others.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika)

Friday 12th of December, 2003

Ryterna opens new factory in Russia
Manufacturer of garage gates UAB Ryterna has opened a new factory in the Russian city Tver. Ryterna opened new factory in Kaunas in November.
Ryterna has invested LTL 180,000 into the Russian factory, while the investments into the Kaunas factory totalled LTL 3.2 million. Ryterna sells 25 percent of its production in Russia. The main market for the company is Western Europe.
Ugnius Motiej_nas, assistant manager of UAB Ryterna, says the volume of orders from Russia reached such a level this year that the company thought it would be profitable to open a factory there. The garage gate made in Russia will also be sold in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Ryterna currently exports to 16 countries. The company expects export volumes to increase after Lithuania become the official member of the European Union.
(Verslo Zinios)

Vilniaus Degtine expects to consolidate its trademarks
Recently privatised Lithuanian distillery Vilniaus Degtin_ has already started Christmas sales and plans to use the period for the advertising and consolidations of its popular vodka trademarks.
Laurynas Mi_kinis, director of finance and marketing at Vilniaus Degtin_, says the most popular vodka brands of the company are Bajor_ and Karved_io. The newly presented Parlamento Premium is proving to be a successful product as well, ads Mi_kinis.
Vilniaus Degtin_ is controlled by the Polish company Sobieski Distrybucja. The French company Belvedere owns the Polish enterprise.
Sobieski Distrybucja has paid LTL 20.7 million for the 82.27 percent stake in Vilniaus Degtin_. Verslo (Zinios)

Exports on the rise in Lithuania
Lithuanian exports rose by 8.5 percent in the first ten months of 2003 compared with the same period in 2002, while imports grew at a 4 percent rate.
The preliminary data, based on customs declarations, showed that Lithuania's ten-month exports reached LTL 16.294 billion, while ten-month imports totalled LTL 24.331 billion.
The country's foreign trade deficit narrowed by 7.7 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 6.036 billion over this period.
Over the year from October 2002 to October 2003, Lithuania's exports grew by 11.4 percent, while imports were up 1.4 percent. The country's export and import volumes increased by 15.1 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively, in October versus September of this year.
(Verslo Zinios)

Thursday 11th of December, 2003

Gurda invests into production of ergonomic furniture
Kaunas-based furniture maker Gurda invests into the production of new, ergonomic office furniture. Representatives of the company say the ergonomic furniture is not only comfortable but also improves productivity at work and protects ones health. The office chair Supra and office furniture line Paradigma are candidates to win Product of the Year 2003 award in Lithuania.
Dainoras Palaima, chief executive of Gurda, says the company has used the most modern materials and technologies for the production of the ergonomic furniture. Such technologies have never been used by any Lithuanian furniture maker yet.
Turnover of Gurda grew by 43 percent in 2002 and reached LTL 10 million. The company expects its turnover to increase by another 40 percent and reach LTL 14 million.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Nord/LB to issue LTL 50 million Eurobond
Nord/LB Lietuva, Lithuania's third-biggest commercial bank owned by Germany's Nord/LB, is set to launch a EUR 50 million Eurobond, which will make it the first Lithuanian commercial bank to tap the international bond markets.
Aurelija Gasi_nien_, head of the Registration Department at the Lithuanian Securities Commission, has said that in a preliminary prospectus that was submitted to the supervisory authority, Nord/LB Lietuva planned to issue a three-year Eurobond worth EUR 60 million.
However, the bank's management board decided on Wednesday to issue a EUR 50 million Eurobond via a private placement, said Ruta Blo_yt_, a spokeswoman for Nord/LB Lietuva.
The bank is set to issue 500 variable yield bonds with a face value of EUR 100,000 each to raise additional funds for its activities.
(Verslo Zinios)

Price of Anyksciu Vynas set at LTL 8 million
The starting price for the state's 72.93 percent shareholding in Anyksciu Vynas, Lithuania's leading wine producer, has been fixed at LTL 8 million.
The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday a new program for Anyk__i_ Vynas privatization, which calls for re-launching the sale of the majority stake in the company in the first quarter of 2004.
The government's first attempt to sell the stake in Anyksciu Vynas failed after Artrio-2, a Vilnius-based company, pulled out of the privatization deal, as it could not obtain a loan to finance the acquisition.
Under the new privatization program, potential buyers of Anyk__i_ Vynas will be required to have at least five years of experience of operating in the industry and annual revenues of at least LTL 25 million. (Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios)

Wednesday 10th of December, 2003

Hanner to invest in Ukraine
The Lithuanian-owned real estate developer Hanner has set up a subsidiary in Ukraine, Hanner Invest, with plans to invest about USD 50 million in that country within two years.
Arvydas Avulis, chairman of the management board of Hanner, said the company would invest in the construction of real property: residential buildings, offices and shopping centres.
He said the company expects to sign an investment agreement with its partners by the end of this year.
Hanner's major projects in Lithuania include a 30-storey office building and a 20,000-square-meter shopping centre under construction on the right bank of the river Neris in Vilnius. The project is valued at LTL 130 million and is expected to be completed by next spring.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios)

Privatization panel endorses sale of VST
Lithuania's privatization panel endorsed the draft agreement on purchase and sale of a 77 percent stake in Vakar_ Skirstomieji Tinklai, Western Lithuania's power grid operator, at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday. The government is expected to approve the draft coming week.
Consortium of VP Market owners will pay LTL 700 million for the company. Most of the experts say that VST has been sold for a very good price.
_ilvinas Marcinkevi_ius, representative of the new owners, says VST is a good but a state-controlled company, which reminds grocery stores that were in Lithuania 15 years ago. Marcinkevicius says a number of novelties beneficial for users will be implemented over the coming years. VST will offer payment plans that should better meet the needs of different client groups.
VST works profitably and services 656,000 clients in Kaunas, Klaip_da and _iauliai districts. Lietuvos (Zinios)

Vilniaus Mesa to open a new plan in May
Meat processing company and wholesaler Vilniaus M_sa will open a new plant in Vilnius in May. The company will invest LTL 17 million into the plant.
Arnoldas Vy_niauskas, CEO of Vilniaus M_sa, says the building of the new plant has already been erected, while the equipment should be installed and launched before Lithuania officially joins the European Union.
According to Vy_niauskas, the new plan will allow the company to produce 50 tons of production. The turnover of Vilniaus Mesa is expected to reach LTL 41.4 million next year. Vy_niauskas says that Polish and Scandinavian companies are interested in purchasing the production of Vilniaus M_sa.
The new plant was built in order to receive permission for the export of meat products to the European Union. Vilniaus Mesa took advantage of SAPARD program to secure a LTL 5 million support.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios)

Tuesday 9th of December, 2003

Vingis expects a better 2004
Lithuania's Vilniaus Vingis, one of Europe's leading producers of deflection yokes for picture tubes with a one-fourth market share, sees full-year sales reaching at least LTL 136 million in 2004. This year, Vilniaus Vingis expects to reach a turnover of LTL 120 million. It would be a decline of 21.3 percent compared to last year, when the turnover of Vilniaus Vingis stood at LTL 152 million. The profit of the company is expected to decline from LTL 12 million to LTL 9 million this year.
The growth would be propelled up by new products, Cibas noted. Vilniaus Vingis is set to market moulds for plastic parts and a wide range of manufacturing installations for local and foreign customers. Cibas said the company planed to sell more for its traditional partners – Samsung, AB Ekranas and Philips.
(Verslo Zinios)

Audimas ran out of winter sports apparel
Audimas, the largest manufacturer of sports and leisure wear in Lithuania, failed to satisfy the demands of winter sports fans for the second year in a row. Although the winter sports season has not started yet, the stores do not have warm coats, skiing costumes and other products. Shop assistants can only advise customers to come next year, while executives of the company say they have miscalculated the needs of their customers again.
Audimas presented the winter sports collection for the first time last year. The collection proved to be very popular and the company doubled the production volumes this year. However, this proved to be insufficient. Arvydas Povilaitis, sales executive at Audimas, says the production of materials for winter apparel takes up to several months, thus the company has no possibilities to repeat the order during the season.
Executives of the company believe that the mistake will not be repeated next year. They plan to double the production volumes once again and hope to keep their customers satisfied.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Consumer prices grow slightly in November
Consumer prices notched up by 0.5 percent in November versus October in Lithuania. However, as compared with the beginning of the year, consumer prices declined 1.3 percent by the end of November, the country's Statistics Department has reported. Consumer price index (CPI) moved down 1 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Analysts forecast 0.2 percent inflation in Lithuania for November.
Consumer prices in Lithuania rose in four of eleven months of 2003. Apart from November, CPI inched higher in March (0.3 percent), June (0.1 percent) and October (0.1 percent), and stood unchanged for another two months. However, consumer prices slid lower in remaining months of 2003.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Monday 8th of December, 2003

Hansabankas has already issued over 800,000 cards
Hansabankas has sold 804,000 different payment cards to date. Vilniaus Bankas, its closest competitor, had sold around 724,000 bankcards as of early December.
Microchip cards account for approximately 10 percent of all Hansabankas' cards in use, the bank has said.
Vitalijus Rancevas, director of Hansabankas' Payment Card Department, said the bank has upgraded around one-third of its point of sale (POS) terminals (about 800) to handle chip cards. He said it would take a year or a year and a half to complete the replacement of magnetic card technologies with chip card technologies.
Hansabankas surpassed Vilniaus Bankas, its main competitor in the domestic bankcard market, last year. At present, it has a 36.7 percent market share in Lithuania.

Sonex Kompiuteriai expands production of laptop computers
UAB Sonex Kompiuteriai, the largest manufacturer of computers in the Baltic countries, expands the production of mVector laptop computers. These are the first laptop computers made in Lithuania that meet the standards of the quality management system ISO. The first models were made at the end of October and proved to be popular among customers. The company expects Christmas holidays to boost the sales of the new product.
mVector computers meet the needs of various client groups. Clients can choose the computer according to a number of different parameters including price, screen size, battery weight, etc. The price of mVector starts from LTL 3,700.
Sonex Kompiuteriai expects to become the leader of the laptop market in the Baltic countries.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Lithuania seems attractive for the British tour operators
The tour operators from Great Britain came to see Lithuania and find business partners on December 6-8. The journalists from Great Britain, United States and Italy participated in the meeting as well.
The meeting was held at the conference hall of Vilnius hotel Crowne Plaza Vilnius. Lithuania was represented by 58 tour operators and representatives of hotels. Before the meeting, the guests were taken on a tour to Trakai, Druskininkai Gr_tas Park and other interesting places.
Journalist Mark Bradley from the United States says Lithuania is a wonderful place. His colleague and British tour operators agree with such an opinion and say that Lithuania has what to show for tourists. Lina Jones, British businesswoman and representative of Lithuanian Airlines in Great Britain, says the British tour operators have reserved many places for flights to Lithuania for next year. Thus, Lithuania may expect the flow of tourists to further increase next year. This year, the flow of tourists from Great Britain grew by 36.4 percent compared to 2002.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

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