Elta likely to be fully private by year's end

  • 2004-05-20
  • Baltic News Service
VILNIUS - The ELTA news agency, which is now majority owned by the multibusiness group MG Baltic, may turn private by the end of 2004 after a recent decision that will allow the government to transfer 39.5 percent in ELTA, currently in control by the Ministry of Interior, to the State Property Fund for an eventual sale.

Should the property fund take over the ELTA stake in the first half of 2004, the privatization process might follow shortly, Antanas Malikenas, privatization director at the fund said.
He added, however, that the assessment of the shares and the building of the agency would precede the sale.
The Lithuanian Parliament gave the green light for the government to sell the state's remaining 39.5 percent shareholding in the news agency ELTA in March, voting in favor of nullifying a law on the sale of ELTA' shares and premises and opening the gates for full privatization of the agency.
The law, which was passed in 1996, obligated the state to maintain at least 35 percent of shares in the news agency.
As of late April 2003, MG Baltic Investment, a subsidiary of MG Baltic, owned 50.86 percent of ELTA, and the Achema Group held another 6.75 percent of shares.
ELTA, which reported operating losses for 2003, has completed a major management and editorial staff-reshuffle as of late, dismissing its long-term chief executive Kestutis Jankauskas. He was replaced by Raimondas Kurlianskis, MG Baltic's vice president.
Moreover, the agency appointed former business editor Valdemaras Katkus as its new editor in chief.
Beginning May 17 the business desk is headed by Vytautas Plunksnis, former BNS business journalist, while the political desk is led by Virgis Valentinavicius, former broadcast editor of the Lithuanian service of Radio Free Europe.