Off the wire

  • 2001-09-06
LOAN GUARANTEES FOR A SMALL PORT: Skulte port in northern Latvia has received a state guarantee for a loan which will enable it to deepen the seabed and upgrade hydro technical installations - measures it expects will enable it to increase cargo turnover. Latvian Finance Minister Gundars Berzins signed the guarantee for a loan of 600,000 lats ($968,000) which Skulte port will obtain from Pirma Bank. A total of 1 million lats is expected to be invested in the port by 2003. Latvia has a total of 10 ports, three large and seven small ones, serving mostly fishermen and local businesses. Skulte is the largest of the small ports. It handled 261,100 tons of cargo in the first seven months of 2001 or nearly half of the aggregate turnover in all of Latvia's small ports for the period.

BRITISH SERVICE: Latvia's Balta insurance group will become part of the British insurance group Royal and Sun Alliance as of Sept. 1, Balta reported to the Riga Stock Exchange. Although Balta will offer the British insurers services as its representative in Latvia, the arrangement will not bring about any changes in Balta's visual image, a Balta spokeswoman said. Royal and Sun Alliance is the largest shareholder in Denmark's Codan company which holds a controlling stake in Balta non-life insurance, a member of the Balta group. The British group is one of the world's largest, with representatives in more than 55 countries and operations in nearly 130 countries.

RIGA BALSAM COUNTERFEITED IN RUSSIA: The Latvian distillery Latvijas Balzams is set to sue a Russian company for counterfeiting the Latvian distillery's most famous brand, Riga Black Balsam, the Latvian daily Diena reported. Latvijas Balzams will file this fall a claim with the court of arbitration in St. Petersburg, Russia against the Opytniy Zavod Niva company, which produces an alcoholic drink similar to Riga Black Balsam in the ceramic bottles associated with Riga Black Balsam and bearing labels almost identical to the Latvian-made product. The Latvian distillery will ask the court to order the Russian company to stop production of the counterfeit drink and cease all use of ceramic bottles recognized as Riga Black Balsam containers. Diena reported that Latvijas Balzams has registered its trade mark in Russia but, unlike in Latvia, this registration does not extend to packaging. Latvijas Balzams is the largest producer of alcoholic drinks in Latvia. Its largest shareholder is SPI, which represents the Russian company Soyuzplodimport.

RAILWAY REOPENS: The Estonian passenger railway operator Edelaraudtee on Sept. 1 reopened several passenger train services in the south of Estonia which were discontinued in the spring owing to a shortage of money. Starting from September, the firm will open a second service on the Tallinn-Tartu route, as well as start traffic between Tartu and Orava, near the border with Russia. Two trains a day will run between Tartu and Valga on the border with Latvia and four trains between Tartu and Elva. One train will operate on the Tallinn-Johvi route on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The firm was running one train daily between Tallinn and Tartu and a weekend service between Tartu and Valga. The state will pay Edelaraudtee for the added passenger services after the confirmation of next year's state budget. The rail company is to get 13.2 million kroons (770,000) for the new services this year. Edelaraudtee is hiring around 15 new staff due to the opening of new lines.

SEEK YOUR PARTNER: Representatives of the world's second largest defense contractor BAE Systems based in Great Britain are seeking business partners and clients in Lithuania. During a visit to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry on Aug. 20 the company's vice president, David White, said he was "seriously interested in developing relations with Lithuania,"the press center for the Defense Ministry said. Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius asked White about the company's experience in cooperating with NATO, which the Baltic state seeks to join. White in turn presented his firm's flexible purchase policy, but no specific projects were discussed. According to the ministry's press release, Lithuanian industrialists have yet to established active relations with NATO's advisers from the defense industry on industrial matters, among them representatives from BAE Systems.

LITHUANIAN GOODS GO MOSCOW: Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas will open an exhibition of Lithuanian products, Lithuanian Export, in the town of Mytishchi in Moscow's region on Sept. 20. This will be Brazauskas' first trip to the Russian capital since he became prime minister in July. His adviser for international relations, Darius Semaska, said Brazauskas would spend one day in Moscow and meet Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov during his visit. Semaska said there were no plans to sign any treaties during the meeting, but the conversation would address several important and urgent matters, including transport tariffs and energy. The Lithuanian Export exhibition, scheduled for Sept. 20-22, is organized by Pramexpo, a wing of the Lithuanian Industrialists' Confederation. Lithuanian industries and services will be represented at the three-day event, where the main focus will be commodities and services intended for the Russian market.

FACTORY OPENS: The Estonian firm TKE wood will open a new woodworking facility costing more than 150 million kroon ($8.6 million) in Paldiski on Sept. 6. TKE reported that the new facility, which will employ 250 people, will be the biggest of its kind in the Baltic countries and one of the biggest in the whole of northern Europe. According to Krediidiinfo Web site of company information, TKE Group, which registered in 1999, was headed until July 13 by Russian businessman Nikolai Yugantsev. But since July its board members have been Valeri Chernyshev and Alexander Zaporoztsev. A third person, Georgi Moskaltsuk, has been a board member since last October. According to Krediidiinfo, the firm's shareholders are Amdour Incorporated and Nadir Mansur Hafiz. According to last year's report, TKE had a stock capital of 62,724 thousand kroons and employed 251 people.