SEB offer threatens trading volume

  • 2000-09-07
The cash offer by Sweden's Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken for the purchase of remaining outstanding shares in Eesti Uhispank, Latvijas Unibanka and Vilniaus Bankas last week revived Baltic states' stock markets, but may turn out to have negative consequences for the bourses in the longer run. If SEB completes their share purchases, a substantial number of shares would no longer be traded publicly through the Baltic exchanges, affecting the livelihood of brokerage houses. The Estonian stock market would survive if Eesti Uhispank stock were pulled out, but for the Vilnius bourse, which is already marked by rather low liquidity, and especially for the Riga bourse, the exclusion of Vilniaus Bankas and Latvijas Unibanka from bourse trading could have a much broader impact.

Nonetheless, last week all Baltic bourse indexes rallied. The Baltic Index of the 15 blue- chip stocks listed on the Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius bourses rocketed up 12.36 percent over the week to 118.98, slightly down from the index's highest peak of 120.09, hit on March 15 of this year.

The Baltic Index was pushed up not only by gains posted by the three Baltic states' banks stocks (by 34-39 percent on average) but also by a sharp 30 percent surge in Ventspils Nafta. Moreover, Lietuvos Telekomas, Hansapank and Eesti Telekom shot up by 8-16 percent. Gainers outpaced losers 12 to three on the Baltic List of blue chips.

Vilniaus Bankas did not see a big turnover, which may indicate that the bank's shareholders may not agree with SEB's proposal of 40 litas ($10.00) per share and are holding out for a higher price.

Turnover of the Baltic List stocks surged by 5.5 times during the week, to 18.96 million euros ($16.86 million), and of this total Estonian stocks accounted for 81.5 percent. Latvian stocks changed hands for 1.86 million euros, or 9.8 percent of the total, and Lithuanian stocks 1.64 million euros, or 8.7 percent.

On all the three Baltic states' bourses the Baltic List stocks accounted for more than 75 percent of their turnovers. The Baltic List's capitalization also grew significantly over the week to 3.19 billion euros, up 12.7 percent.

The Estonian stocks capitalization was 1.89 billion euros (+10.5 percent), Latvian 491 million euros (+14.1 percent) and Lithuanian 812 million euros (+18.2 percent).