Summed up

  • 1999-12-09
SELLING OFF PUBLIC PROPERTY: Lithuania privatized about 80 pieces of
state and municipal property in November, a record number for 1999,
the State Property Fund reported. The SPF ran 44 public auctions last
month and sold state-owned stakes in four industrial and construction
companies through the stock exchange, raising 11.23 million litas
($2.8 million). A 51.7 percent state-owned stake in Hotel Zaliasis
Tiltas went for 4.96 million litas. Municipal privatization of 30
properties brought in an additional 1.77 million litas. So far, in
1999, proceeds from privatization totaled 462.7 million litas, SPF
spokeswoman Jolanta Varapnickaite said.

GERMANS DEEP IN PEAT: Germany's WTL Weiss-Torf Handels Gesellschaft
MBH has increased its shareholding in the west Lithuanian peat
producer Silutes Durpes to 90.68 percent through a tender offer. WTH
has majority stakes in two other Lithuanian peat producers: 96.32
percent in Gedrimu Durpes and 100 percent in Laukesa-WTL. Silutes
Durpes, with an expected 1999 turnover of 12 million litas ($3
million), exports 97 percent of its peat products abroad, mostly to
Holland and Germany from where they go to 94 countries. The German
firm has pledged to invest some 5 million litas to 6 million litas in
Silutes Durpes over the next five years and maintain current jobs for
three years.

ICE-CREAM MAKER FINED: The listing committee of the Tallinn Stock
Exchange fined ice cream producer Tallinna Kulmhoone 100,000 kroons
($6,500) for not immediately releasing information about its merger
with Kauno Pieno Centras, bourse officials said. In addition, the
company has not made sure that all shareholders are kept equally
posted for equal protection of their interests. Because they do not
know the ratio of exchange of TK shares for shares in Kauno Pieno
Centras, small shareholders cannot appraise the worth of their shares

IT BACK-UP FUND: Trigon Capital with FinnFund is setting up 3 million
euros to 5 million euros for investing in the development of
information technology firms oriented towards export to markets in
the Baltic region and St. Petersburg, Russia. Joakim Helenius,
chairman of the council of Trigon Capital, said FinnFund will finance
the project to 1 million euros and TC's investment has not been
settled yet. Other Scandinavian financial institutions have been
brought into the project as well, he said. The firm is considering
five to eight companies in the Baltics and St. Petersburg as
potential targets. The fund, registered and managed in Finland, plans
to make the investments for a period of five years, Helenius said.

HANSABANK BUYS VENTSPILS BANK: Representatives from Hansabanka and
Ventspils Apvienota Baltijas Banka on Dec. 3 signed a protocol of
intent on sale of 100 percent of VABB shares to Hansabanka with a
purchase agreement inked by Dec. 31. VABB, 12th largest commercial
bank in Latvia, earned a profit of 1.42 million lats (2.45 million)
in 1999, the bank's president Raimonds Kalnins said. In November the
bank's profit was 141,000 lats.

PHARE WATER PROJECTS: The construction company FKSM signed on Dec. 6
a 90 million kroon ($5.83 million) contract to build water supply
systems in the Estonian towns of Paide, Rakvere and Rapla. The main
project is financed by the European Union through its PHARE program's
infrastructure development fund and coordinated by the Environment
Ministry. Juri Ligi, director of investments at Estonian waterworks
AS Eesti Veevark, said work can begin immediately. Rakvere and Rapla
will get new drinking water networks and Paide a new drinking water
purification facility. Most households will be connected with the
water supply system. The construction work is to be completed by the
end of the next year.

LITHUANIA HIKES SOCIAL TAX: The Lithuanian government approved on
Dec. 1 a draft 2000 budget for the national social insurance fund,
Sodra.The next year's budget is based on revenues of 4.58 billion
litas ($1.14 billion) and expenditures at 4.56 billion litas. The
draft, which is yet to pass through the Parliament, provides for an
increase in the state social insurance tax by three percentage points
to 34 percent. The social insurance tariff for employers should
increase by one point to 31 percent, while the tariff for employees
should rise from the current 1 percent to 3 percent. If lawmakers
endorse the draft budget, 22.5 percent of Sodra's premiums will go to
pension insurance, 3 percent to illness and maternity insurance, 1.5
percent to unemployment insurance, 1 percent to workers' compensation
and 3 percent to health insurance. Sodra's budget deficit is
projected to be 470 million litas at the end of 1999.