Summed up

  • 1999-10-21
WTO TAKES ESTONIA INTO THE FOLD: Estonia will become the 135th member of the World Trade Organization on Nov. 13 following four years of talks. Estonia's president, Lennart Meri, signed the law on Estonia's entry Oct. 11. and sent confirmation to Geneva headquarters on Oct. 14. Estonia's membership will automatically occur 30 days from that date. The country will be the third former Soviet republic to join, following Latvia and Kyrgyzstan.

SINGAPORE GROUP INVESTS IN PULP MILL: The Tolaram Group will invest $28.2 million to continue modernization and increase capacity of the Horizon pulp and paper mill in the north-central Estonia town of Kehra. Tolaram will sign a $7.2 million loan agreement with the International Finance Corporation, a unit of the World Bank, and a $9 million loan with Finland's Leonia Bank. First-stage modernization cost Toleram $12 million. The new money will buy paper-making machines and upgrade a tissue plant and bring the plant's output to 200 tons a day. Horizon plans a turnover of 333 million kroons ($22.73 million) in 1999.

UHISPANK TO UNBUCKLE SUBSIDIARIES: Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, the holder of majority shares in the Estonian bank Eesti Uhispank has ordered Uhispank to boost its performance through the sale of real estate and subsidiaries by the end of this year, according to the Tallinn business daily Aripaev. SEB increased its share in the bank to 50.14 percent recently. Uhispank's President Ain Hanschmidt said the first to be sold are Uhispank's subsidiaries in Lithuania but would not reveal the possible buyer or price. The bank will retain its leasing arm and life insurance company. Uhispank is also selling five buildings in Tallinn.

SUGAR FACTORY GOES SOUR: Shareholders holding 61.5 percent of sugar mill Jekabpils Cukurfabrika have found the enterprise broke and will turn to the court to get an administrator to decide the company's future. The decision is based on a certified audit finding signs of insolvency with an inability to meet liabilities of 1.2 million lats ($2.07 million.). Sugar-beet farmers in Jekabpils and Bauska counties with contracts will get state money to cover losses.

PAREX BANK TO FORECLOSE FISH PROCESSOR: News reports are that Parex will take a controlling stake in Brivais Vilnis fish cannery because Talinvest, holding 52 percent, cannot meet its obligations on loans, Parex legal manager Guntars Grinbergs told the Latvian daily Diena. A court ruled that Parex may use the pledged shares to enforce the debt. The bank would decide by Oct. 22 whether to keep the shares or auction them, Grinbergs said.Grinbergs said the bank had to decide to keep the shares or auction them off. Bad weather conditions kept Brivais Vilnis from catching enough fish to process, said Guntis Bergs, Vilnis Brivais finance director.

OFFER TO STIMULATE TRADE, NOT PRICE: Lithuanian bank Vilniaus Bankas said it would make an offer to buy shares in Hermis at 128.5 litas ($32.12) per ordinary registered share and 1,285 litas per preference share. Capital markets analysts said the move will not have a big impact. "Rumors about that price had been circulating in the market for a long time," said Kestutis Kvainauskas, broker with VB Vilfima. Kvainauskas said both blue-chip banks were likely to trade more actively following the official announcement of the price, but it would hardly push up their prices. Arvydas Jacikevicius of Suprema said that Hermis' share turnover was likely to drop with no major pick-up in Vilnius Bank trading .

BEER STAYS IN THE LEAD: Utenos Alus nearly doubled its beer sales over the first three-quarters of this year and remained the leader of the Lithuanian market. The Utena-based company sold over 3.23 million dekaliters of beer over the first nine months of 1999, up from 1.82 million dal. reported a year ago and holds 27 percent of the market. The Lithuanian Brewers' Association said Svyturys beer came in second with a 19 percent share.

LITHUANIA TO SELL FUEL RETAILER CHEAP: The Lithuanian government will sell Lietuvos Kuras, a fuel retailer teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, for a symbolic price of one litas ($0.25), the daily Lietuvos Rytas reported. The chairman of the privatization commission, Eduardas Vilkas, confirmed that the Dutch investors Koepke International Holdings and D.C. Berkel would acquire a 67 percent stake in the Lithuanian fuel retalier for that price. If approved, the buyers must replenish the Lithuanian company's working capital by 10 million litas.