‰ The Eesti Telekom group earned a net profit of 245.6 million kroons ($14.36 million) in the first quarter of 2000. Because of restructuring carried out in the first half of 1999, the first-quarter net profit is not comparable with the respective figure from the first quarter of 1999.
Eesti Telekom's subsidiaries Eesti Telefon (Estonian Telephone) and Eesti Mobiiltelefon (Estonian Mobile Telephone) netted respectively 129 million and 134 million kroons in the first quarter. The group's net sales in the first quarter amounted to 929 million kroons.
Operating income totaled 939.1 million kroons, up 15 percent from 812 million kroons in the same three months last year. Income from the fixed-line telephone service rose 15 percent year-on-year to 667 million kroons. The fastest rise occurred in income from local calls — up 34 percent from the first quarter of 1999. The main factor behind the rise was the Internet service.
Earned income from the mobile telephone service was up 14 percent to 421 million kroons. Operating costs of the Eesti Telekom group in the first quarter amounted to 436 million kroons, up a modest six percent. The ratio of operating costs to operating income dropped to 46 percent from 50 percent a year ago. The increase in operating costs was curbed by a 70 percent reduction of the costs of the parent company AS Eesti Telekom.
‰ Shareholders of Optiva Bank at a general meeting on Friday approved all motions put forward by the bank's management board. The meeting approved the bank's financial report and decided to cover the loss of 1999 with profit from the next periods. Optiva Bank posted a loss of 20.4 million kroons ($1.19 million) in 1999. The shareholders appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit the company's financial reports in year 2000, Market Communications Director Ruth Laidvee said.
In its report to the general meeting, the management of Optiva Bank said that negotiations between the Bank of Estonia and Sampo on the sale of the stake in Optiva Bank were going on as planned, Uhispank analyst Sven Kunsing said. The management of the bank said that a takeover bid for the bank's shares would be made to all shareholders.
Sampo Finance in late April made a bid to the Estonian central bank to buy the central bank's 57.9 percent holding in Optiva. The parties have said they expect to finish the talks by the end of June.
‰ Latvijas Gaze (LG, Latvian Gas) gas company sold 613.310 million cubic meters of natural gas and 8,260 tons of liquefied gas during the first four months of the year, the company's public relations office said. During the first four months of 2000 the company sold significantly higher amounts of natural gas than in the same period in 1999 when the company sold 490 million cubic meters of natural gas. The liquefied gas sales grew more slowly as in the first four months of 1999 the company sold 8,190 tons of liquefied gas.
"It should be remembered that LG operations has seasonal nature thus the company is selling most of the planned natural and liquefied gas amounts exactly during the first and fourth quarters of the year," the company stressed in the statement. According to data of LG, Latvenergo electricity utility was the biggest natural gas consumer during the first four months of the year, consuming 222.359 million cubic meters of natural gas.
The second biggest natural gas consumer in the first four months of the year was Rigas Siltums (Riga Heat) centralized heat supply company that consumed 69.129 million cubic meters of natural gas during the period. The third was Liepajas Metalurgs (Liepaja Metallurgy) company with 39.350 million cubic meters.
Shares in LG are quoted on the official list of the Riga Stock Exchange (RSE.) The company's net audited profit in 1999 was 7.701 million lats ($12.7 million.)
‰ Latvian Privatization Agency (LPA) director general Janis Naglis feels skeptical about the possibility to reach an agreement with Ventspils Nafta (VN, Ventspils Oil) oil terminal and its co-owner Latvijas Naftas Tranzits (LNT, Latvian Oil Transit) about payment of larger dividends. In the interview to BNS Naglis reiterated his earlier opinion that VN should pay at least 4 to 6 santims per share in dividends from the profit in 1999. Previously the company paid 3 santims ($0.05) per share in dividends and Naglis doubted whether an agreement could be reached with LNT about larger dividend distribution this year.
Nevertheless, the discussion may stimulate the dividend raise next year, the LPA head suggested. So far both LNT and VN management have supported the payment of dividends in the amount of 3 santims per share. Under VN budget for this year it is also planned to pay 3 santims per share in dividends for 2000 as well.
Naglis said the LPA and LNT have not begun negotiations about the amount of dividends yet but the talks will start as soon as the date for VN shareholder meeting and its agenda is established. According to the LPA head, the "conservative and unattractive" position by VN and LNT as regards the amount of dividends is one of the reasons why the VN share price remained low on the Riga Stock Exchange.
On May 29 the average weighted price per VN share was 0.65 lats. The par value of the oil terminal's shares is set as 1 lat per share. VN shares are quoted on the official list of the Riga Stock Exchange. The company has a registered capital of 104 million lats. LNT holds about 37 percent of shares in the oil terminal.
‰ Ventspils Nafta (VN, Ventspils Oil) oil terminal this May reloaded 1.7 million tons of oil and oil products, a little below the cargo turnover in May 1999 when this figure was 1.9 million tons, VN spokeswoman Gundega Varpa said Thursday. In five months of 2000 VN has reloaded a total of 8.7 million tons of oil and oil products.
The cargo turnover in May included 1.2 million tons of crude oil, 0.4 million tons of diesel fuel and 0.07 million tons of other oil products.
"Results of VN performance in May meet the level of stable monthly reloading amount. In May 1999 VN handled 1.5 million tons of oil and oil products, in May 1999 1.9 million tons of oil and oil products," Varpa said. Shares in Ventspils Nafta are quoted on the official list of the Riga Stock Exchange.
‰ Lietuvos Telekomas [Lithuanian Telecom] began June 1 the payment of dividends for the year 1999.
Lithuanian Telecom will pay a dividend of 8.7 Lithuanian centas (2.175 US cents) per share with a nominal value of one litas. The company's shareholders approved the dividend payment in late April. A total of 71.209 million litas has been allotted for dividend payments, up from 28.5 million litas paid out last year. Lithuanian Telecom and its subsidiaries posted an audited net profit of 104.4 million litas and a pre-tax profit of 142.3 million litas for the year 1999, according to international accounting standards. Lithuania's monopoly fixed-line telephone operator made a profit of 66.5 million litas in 1998. Sweden's Telia and Finland's Sonera own 60 percent of shares in the largest telecommunications company in the Baltics. The Lithuanian State Property Fund holds another 35.03 percent of shares, with the rest owned by Lithuanian Telecom's employees.
‰ Utenos Trikotazas, Lithuania's leading knitwear producer, reported a 19 percent increase in sales in the first five months of 2000 versus the respective period last year.
Nerijus Datkunas, Utenos Trikotazas' director for finance, said the company's export growth exceeded projections despite the depreciation of the euro. Utenos Trikotazas' January-May sales totaled 51.8 million litas ($12.95 million) this year. In May alone, its sales reached 10.3 million litas, up from eight million litas posted a year ago.
The company's five-month exports rose by 22 percent against the respective figure for the previous year. The January-May exports amounted to 45.1 million litas this year, up from 31.1 million litas a year earlier.
Utenos Trikotazas has insured its exports with the Swiss credit insurer NCM and has entered into futures contracts to hedge against a further fall in the euro rate, Datkunas said in a statement.