EBRD BUYS IT: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Baltic Post-Privatization Fund has signed an agreement to acquire a 10 percent stake in the Lithuanian information technologies company Alna, the Baltic financial brokerage firm Suprema reported Aug. 1. The $1.4-million deal shows international investors' growing interest in investing in advanced businesses in the Baltic region, said Aidas Galubickas, chairman of the board of Suprema which handled the sale of Alna's existing shares. Set up in 1989, Alna today is a leading IT company in Lithuania, posting a profit of 1.4 million litas ($350,000) on 58 million litas income for 1999. EBRD is the key investor in BPPF, a risk capital fund investing in Baltic companies with good prospects. The size of the fund is more than $35 million.
BOXTERS: Porsche AG, the exclusive Porsche sports car maker, signed an agreement Aug. 7 with SIA Motors Latvia, the distributor of Volkswagen cars in Latvia, providing for establishing a company importing cars into the Baltic states, SIA Motors Latvia reported to the Baltic News Service. The Porsche importer's name will be SIA Baltijas Sporta Auto.
SMELLS THE COFFEE: On the night of Aug. 2, Latvia's state Revenues Service finance police detained a junior customs supervisor of the Adazi customs control post on the Estonian border for taking a bribe of coffee and alcohol to let an undocumented cargo of alcohol into Latvia, said Dita Klavina, State Revenues Service spokeswoman. The customs official was detained as he received the payoff for letting the shipment through free of excise tax.
HEAT'S OFF: The Council of Kaunas on Aug. 3 voted not to begin negotiations with the French company Dalkia on a contract to operate the heating sector in Lithuania's second-largest city. Some 31 members of the City Council backed the decision, while two voted against. It has not been decided yet whether a new tender will be announced. A member of the Council said Dalkia was unwilling to seek a compromise and was trying to dictate the terms, pointing to the grim situation at Kauno Energija.
CRADLE OF INVESTMENT: In the framework of a European Union aid project, Estonia's second-largest city of Tartu is to build a 20-hectare industrial park expected to attract foreign investment and create new jobs. Raul Takker, head of the city planning department, told the Tartu Postimees daily that the industrial park is an area where the local government has built roads and communications and laid water and sewage pipes to entice foreign investors. In the framework of the EU's science park project and with a 15-million kroon grant, the city plans to erect some production buildings and build an access road to the currently vacant land.
BEER OUTPUT DOWN: According to state statistics department data, Estonian breweries produced 10.9 million liters of beer in June. The figure is smaller than in May and in June 1999. Compared with June 1999, the beer output this June declined by 2.9 percent and with May, by 13.7 percent. The six-month output came to a total of 47.9 million liters, an increase of 2.7 percent year on year.
ANYBODY HAVE A KROON: The Bank of Estonia has not put any more one-kroon bank notes into circulation for about a year, as the stock has run out. The central bank intends to replace the notes with coins over time. Kaja Kell, deputy head of the central bank's public relations department, said the Bank of Estonia has not had any more notes printed. In Kell's estimation, withdrawal of the notes from circulation may take several years. According to Bank of Estonia data, there are at present 6.5 million notes and 19.3 million one-kroon coins in circulation. The notes were printed in 1990 by the United States Banknote Company. The coins were minted by the Finnish Mint.