EIB LETS HANSAPANK HOLD 30 MILLION EUROS: The European Investment Bank has lent Estonian Hansapank Group money for lending to small and medium sized businesses. The funds are expected to be divided equally among banks of the Hansapank Group operating in the three Baltic states. Thus Hansabank in Latvia will be able to extend to the small and medium businesses credits for10 million euros for up to five years.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED: Two U.S. companies which participated in a failed project to link Lithuania's electricity grid to western Europe last year are seeking to build a cellulose plant in Lithuania to cost 2 billion to 4 billion litas ($1 billion). Managers of the Stanton Group and Duke Engineering & Services made the proposal during talks with Lithuanian Economy Minister Valentinas Milaknis last week, according to the daily Lietuvos Rytas. Linas Kojelis, the U.S. companies' representative in Lithuania, said they were representing large American and Canadian enterprises with experience in the cellulose production business. They could co-finance the cellulose plant construction project.Cellulose factories consume a lot of electricity, therefore it is planned that the new plant should be built close to the Elektrenai thermal power station.
IN BUSINESS FOR THEMSELVES: Four Latvians and two Lithuanians were detained in the Latvia on Feb. 6 on charges of running alcohol through the Latvian-Lithuanian border. The Lithuanian police department said one of those arrested is a former officer of Latvian criminal police, while several others are close relatives of Latvian border guards. Two tons of smuggled alcohol were found during the operation. The arrested men are held custody in Latvia. According to police, the suspected bootleggers took the alcohol to a farmstead in Latvia close to the Lithuanian border and stored it there. The farmstead is owned by a Latvian border guard. The alcohol then went by car, foot or cart to a farm across the border owned by a Lithuanian police officer now a pensioner.
BIG DIP IN SOFTWARE PIRACY: During the software legalization campaign by Microsoft, the company's revenues in Latvia increased by 300 percent, Microsoft's executive director in the Baltic states said. Before the legalization campaign, Microsoft's products in Latvia were sold by 95 companies. Now the number has increased to 240 firms. During the legalization campaign, 26 raids found14 firms using unlicenced software and 10 companies selling computers with unlicenced software. As a result of the action the computer piracy in Latvia has declined from 90 percent to 85 percent, said Microsoft.
LOAN WOULD PUMP DEBT BY 20 PERCENT: A $200 million EBRD loan contemplated by Riga City Council to build a tunnel across the Daugava river may result in a significant increase in the Latvian national debt. According to the state treasury, at the end of 1999 the national debt reached 505.5 million lats ($856.754 million), including foreign debt of 358.365 million lats. If the Riga City Council is permitted to take the above loan, the Latvian national debt may increase by more than 100 million lats. The municipality is working on a project about constructing a tunnel or a bridge across Daugava to reduce the traffic overload on existing bridges in the Latvian capital.
IFC TO FINANCE LITHUANIAN PLYWOOD: The International Finance Corporation signed agreements FEB. 7 with Klaipedos Mediena to provide $2.75 million in loans to modernize the Lithuanian particleboard and plywood mill.The IFC investment comprises a 1.25-million-dollar senior loan and a 1.5-million-dollar convertible loan. Klaipedos Mediena is the only manufacturer of plywood and one of two producers of particleboard in Lithuania. The Industry and Finance Corporation of Western Lithuania owns 67 percent of shares in Klaipedos Mediena, privatized in 1992. "The purpose of this project is to upgrade the existing particleboard and plywood facilities to improve product quality and increase efficiency of the production process," said Mary Lystad, IFC spokeswoman, who saidKlaipedos Mediena had re-oriented its operation from the former Soviet markets to the international market.