LITHUANIA ISSUES COMMEMORATIVE COINS: A commemorative 10-litas coin, dedicated to the Lithuanian capital, will be issued into circulation Sept. 30. The coins will be sold for 20 litas ($5) each. The board of the Bank of Lithuania (LB) decided to prepare production of a new 100-litas bill with more security features. According to LB's Cashier Department Director Arunas Dulkys, at the beginning of September, 100-litas bills comprised more than half of the total value of litas in circulation. "At present, the bank has enough 100-litas bills of the old model, but we decided to prepare the issuing of more reliable bills," Dulkys said. According to Dulkys, the new 100-litas bills could be in circulation in a year.
RIGA TO HOST INSURANCE CONFERENCE: The second international conference Insurance in The Baltics '98 will take place in Riga on Oct. 1 - 2. Peteris Sliede, president of the Association of Insurers, said the conference has two basic goals — to inform Baltic and foreign partners about the insurance market development and to present investment opportunities in the Latvian insurance industry. Sliede said Baltic insurance companies could use foreign insurers' experience on such issues like compulsory insurance of vehicle owner's civil liability. Sliede said the event will be organized in Riga every year as its coorganizers, the Estonian and Lithuanian insurers' associations, regard Riga as a more favorable location for the conference.
ESTONIAN MOBILE OPERATOR GOES TO LITHUANIA: The Estonian mobile operator Levicom subsidiary, Levi & Kuto Lithuania, received a license for construction and operation of a cellular phone network. According to the terms of the license, Levi & Kuto have to launch a GSM 1800 network in 1999. Levicom Board Deputy Chairman Toomas Peek said it is possible to launch a profit-earning net operator company in one year on the Lithuanian market. Levicom Council Chairman Tonis Palts said that considering Lithuania's population figure is 2.5 times as high as in Estonia and the percentage of mobile phone users is only half the number in Estonia, it is possible to become successful as a third mobile phone operator in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Transport Ministry declared all three participants in a tender for cellular phone operator licenses winners of the tender. The three companies are Levi & Kuto, Lithuania's biggest cellular phone operator Omnitel and its main rival, Bite GSM.
LITHUANIAN CONES FOR FINNISH ICE CREAM: The Lithuanian-Finnish joint venture Ingman Vega, based in the northern Lithuanian town of Mazeikiai, has prepared its first export to Finland - a shipment of ice-cream waffle cones for Ingman Foods. At the beginning, Ingman Vega will export only waffle cones as it has no equipment to fill them with ice cream. Ingman Vega was not seriously hurt by the crisis in Russia, to which it exports only 4 percent of its products. The company also sells about 8 percent of its output in neighboring Latvia. This summer, Ingman Vega's ice-cream sales dropped by 7 percent as compared with last summer. The company's directors say the decline was caused by a cool summer and increasing competition.
RIGA HAS A STABLE CREDIT RATING: The international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's did not change the city of Riga's credit rating. According to the financial department at the Riga City Council, Riga has been assigned the BBB rating for long term debts denominated in lats and foreign currency, while for short term debts both in lats and foreign currency the city got the A-3 rating. The agency noted that the credit rating was favorably influenced by the small volume of debts and Riga's favorable growth outlook. The agency pointed out however, that Riga had made insufficient improvement in its infrastructure. The ratings BBB and A-3 mean that presently the debtor is fully able to meet its financial liabilities, but unfavorable economic situations or changes may reduce this ability to meet liabilities.