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Off the wire

  • 2000-11-16
MOBILE, FIXED USERS LEVEL: The number of Eesti Telefon's (Estonian Telephone) fixed lines was 521,901 or 36.3 lines per hundred inhabitants at the end of September, while the number of mobile phone clients was 514,000, 35.7 per hundred inhabitants. Eesti Telefon has earlier forecast that the number of fixed-line telephone users will not exceed 40 percent of the population in Estonia, and will stabilize at 550,000 people next year. According to earlier forecasts, the number of mobile phone users will pass that of fixed-line clients in 2001 and will rapidly increase until at least 2003, when it is expected that more than 700,000 people will be using mobile communication.

LINEN MILL IN KAUNAS: Italy's Linificio e Canapificio Nazionale (Linificio), a leading linen yarn manufacturer in Europe, has decided to set up a new linen spinning mill in Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city, the daily newspaper Lietuvos Rytas reported Nov. 10. Linificio belongs to the Italian Marzotto Group, which acquired the Kaunas-based textile factory Liteksas last spring. Linificio, which has a 25 percent share of the European linen yarn market, is planning to launch production at the new mill at the end of 2001. The Italians intend to invest some 40 million litas ($10 million) in Lithuania within two years.

RUSSIAN COMPANY TO BUY LB: The Russian company Sojuzplodimport wants to acquire the controlling block of shares in Latvijas Balzams (LB) liquor maker company, LB president Alexander Ivanov confirmed Nov. 8. The controlling block of LB shares is held by New Technology and Business Development Corporation (former Ave-Lat Group) and whether it would be sold depends on the shareholders. So far Sojuzplodimport and LB have been involved in legal proceedings over the use of the Moskovskaya Osobaya Vodka trademark. The Latvian Supreme Court declared the Russian company's victory in October, however, LB still continues producing liquor under the contested trademark. LB is the biggest liquor producer company in Latvia.

EBRD TO INVEST IN BALTICS: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will invest up to 10 million euros in the Baltic Investment Fund, a private equity fund investing in Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian medium-size businesses, the EBRD said in a statement. The funds will be invested to foster better expansion of business operations and in companies having development potential.

CUSTOMS TAX FOR FISH LIFTED: The Latvian parliament Nov. 9 adopted amendments to the law on customs tax in the final reading, lifting import duties on frozen cod, pilchard and sprats. Presently the base rate for the tax is 20 percent and for the most favored status regime 15 percent. By lifting the import duty on cod it is hoped to improve supply of raw material to fish processing companies. The export of frozen filleted cod has doubled since 1995. The lifting of import duties is expected to bring the fish processing output and exports back to the level it was before the Russian financial crisis.

LATVIA AMONG TOP TIMBER EXPORTERS: Latvian timber exports have been increasing steadily in recent years and Latvia has become the fourth largest softwood exporter to the European Union. The annual growth of sawn timber exports has been from 12 percent to 15 percent. In recent years Latvia has been exploring Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese markets, which have high timber prices but also high quality demands.

PANGEA COMES TO TOWN: Pangea Networks, which is currently building a high-bandwidth telecommunication network comprising Nordic and Baltic Sea countries, intends to launch the first phase of the network this December. Pangea will lease its network to communication companies and Internet service providers for voice and data transmission, a spokesman for the company said. The network will connect Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Finland. The total cost of the project will be $450 million.