Drinks producer stays on the stock exchange

  • 2001-03-22
  • TBT staff
RIGA - Shareholders of the Gutta beverage company decided to postpone the transformation of the publicly traded company to a closed one in an extraordinary meeting on March 20, stating they wanted to collect additional information on the costs of a potential stock-buyout offer to the minority shareholders.

Shares of Gutta, one of the largest beverage producers in Latvia, are traded on the second list of the Riga Stock Exchange.

Gutta suffered a loss of 7.42 million lats ($11.96 million) in 1999 on a net turnover of 8.38 million lats. In the first nine months of 2000 the company's profit was 455,000 lats on a net turnover 5.15 million lats, down 26.9 percent year-on-year.

The company has not yet released its full annual results for 2000. Analysts have noted earlier that the delisting of Gutta's shares will not affect the trading activity on the stock exchange, as trade in the stock has been slow because the company has few shareholders.

The three largest shareholders of Gutta jointly own 79.8 percent of shares. The company Sefico Holding B.V. owns 41.4 percent, Latvian Hansabanka owns 20.3 percent and Estonian Hansapank holds 18.1 percent. Estonian and Latvian banks increased their share in Gutta by capitalizing its debts.

The company's management has sold its juice production facility in Moscow, the company's financial director, Olga Petersone, told the shareholders. An agreement on selling the facility has been signed but ownership rights still have not been transferred to the new owners as the full price agreed on under the agreement has not bee paid yet. Gutta's juice production facility in Moscow was opened in December 1999 with a planned capacity of 7 million to 8 million liters of juice and soft drinks per month.

Former Gutta president and minority shareholder Nikolai Lovtsov asked the company's council to provide him with precise information about the sale of the facility.

He said that Gutta's Moscow facility was sold last summer for 100 Russian rubles to one offshore company owned by Gutta Board Chairman Robert Elensky, according to BNS reports. According to Lovtsov, the offshore company further sold the facility to another company for $2 million.

Lovtsov was ousted from his post in Gutta in December 1999 as the company's creditors found it impossible to work with him, according to reports.