FOOD EXPORTS TO THE EU WON'T INCREASE: For the representatives of the Latvian Agriculture Ministry, the Sept. 16, visit to Brussels was disappointing. The European Commission (EC) did not increase the export quotas of Latvian foodstuffs to the European Union (EU). After returning to Riga, Aivars Kalvitis, board chairman of the Latvian Central Union of Dairy Companies, said, "We stayed at the same point where we were." According to Kalvitis, the EC positively views Latvia's demand to increase the quotas for dairy and fish products but has no authority to pass such a decision. Kalvitis said the EC said it's possible to increase quotas, but they were singing the same tune last year. Export quotas for butter and fish could be increased as of Jan. 1, 1999, and Latvia should be working on it, said Kalvitis. The next round of talks is scheduled for mid-November.
HOTEL IN CENTRAL VILNIUS ON THE BLOCK: The Lithuanian State Assets Fund is planning to sell the Zaliasis Tiltas hotel in the center of Vilnius to a strategic investor. The fund and the hotel's private shareholders signed a deal earlier in the month according to which two-thirds of the hotel's shares will be privatized. Zaliasis Tiltas has a share capital of 1.59 million litas ($397,500), and the state owns 51.7 percent in the hotel. The rest of the stock is in the hands of some 60 former and current employees of the hotel. "A controlling block of shares has already been formed, and property appraisers have begun evaluating the company," said Nijole Saboniene, director of the equity management department at the State Assets Fund.
MICROLINK OPENS A NEW FACTORY IN RIGA: The leading computer manufacturer in the Baltic states, Microlink, in cooperation with the Latvian firm Fortech will open a new factory in Riga on Sept. 24. Microlink board Chairman Allan Martinson said the firm invested 5 million kroons ($375,000) in the new facility, and Fortech invested another 5 million kroons. Martinson said the investment covers capital, technology, and permanent assets. Microlink Datori, a company formed to operate the new factory, is owned equally by Microlink and Fortech. "Foundation of Microlink Datori is a part of Microlink's long-range program to become a pan-Baltic firm," Martinson said. The new facility will produce computers under the MicroLink and Fortech trademarks. According to Martinson, the factory can look forward to guaranteed monthly sales of 500 computers in the first months of operation.
CENTRAL DEPOSITORY TO ASSUME CAPITAL BANK: The Latvian Central Depository of Securities will take over the securities register of Capital Bank of Latvia on Sept. 29, and will give it over to another bank, Latvijas Hipoteku un Zemes Banka (LHZB). Depository President Martins Riksis said the LHZB is ready to take over the securities register of Capital Bank's clients. Riksis said a three-party agreement will be signed soon. The Stock Market Commission decided Sept. 7, that the Depository must take over the register of securities of Capital Bank's clients after the court ruled the bank insolvent. Capital Bank had 20 percent of its assets invested in Russian short-term domestic T-bills when the Russian crisis began.
SWEDES WANT LITHUANIAN TV STATION: Lithuania's Zemes Ukio Bank (LZUB) and the Swedish Marieberg company might reach an agreement on the sale of a 44 percent stake in the private LNK television station. LNK is the second most popular Lithuanian TV station in terms of average number of viewers. According to the daily Lietuvos Rytas, if the Swedes succeed in acquiring the stock package, they would buy another 10 percent package from one of the owners of LNK, Hubertas Grusnys. Five contenders - Estonians, Latvians, Poles, Russians and Swedes - negotiated with the LZUB over the purchase of the LNK stock package. The LZUB wants to get 20 million litas ($5 million) for its holdings in the station. If the sale goes through, LNK will be the third Lithuanian television station to have a controlling parcel go into foreign hands.