• 2002-08-15
Helsinki completes sale

The Helsinki Stock Exchange on Aug. 12 completed its purchase of a 92.98 percent stake in its counterpart in Riga, in its latest move to embrace the Baltic states.

"This means we are part of an international group. In the near future we will introduce the HEX trading system, all Latvian issuers will be seen on monitors in Helsinki," Krista Grintale, the spokeswoman of the Riga Stock Exchange said, adding the move should boost the exchange's liquidity.

The purchase, for an undisclosed sum, follows the Helsinki stock market operator's takeover last year of the neighboring Estonian exchange in Tallinn.

The sale of 81.08 percent of Latvia's Central Depositry to HEX was also completed, Grintale told AFP.

She said it was not yet clear whether the Riga exchange would convert to trading in euros rather than in the national currency, as has happened in Tallinn. (Agence France-Presse)

Lithuania upgrades Russia

Lithuania's government officially included Russia for the first time on a list of market economies, a move that should bolster economic ties between the two nations.

"The decision is taken having in mind the recent legal and economic reforms in Russia, which substantially changed Russia's economy," the Lithuanian Economy Ministry said in a statement.

The European Union announced earlier this year that it intended to grant Russia market economy status, following a move already taken by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Lithuania's list of non-market economy countries includes all Commonwealth of Independent States, China, Albania, Vietnam, Mongolia and North Korea, among others. (AFP)

Save, don't spend

IMF representatives said that the outlook for the Estonian economy remained favorable but added they were concerned about the continued weakness of external demand, which has left the economy too reliant on domestic demand to support growth. The recent deterioration in the current account balance is significant and requires close attention, said the fund.

"While strong performance of tax revenues over the first half of the year was welcome, it is best to save the bulk of revenues rather than inject them back into the economy in the form of higher public spending," the IMF said in a statement. (Baltic Business News)

Lithuania, Latvia inflation

Lithuania's 12-month inflation rose to 0.1 percent in July following a contraction of 0.5 percent in June, the national statistics department said.

Consumer prices nonetheless dropped by 0.3 percentage points in July compared to the previous month.

In the first seven months of 2002, prices in Lithuania have decreased by 0.9 percent.

In Latvia, inflation rose by 1 percent in July from 0.9 percent in June, the statistics bureau said. Consumer prices nonetheless fell by 0.4 percent in July. (AFP)

Shopping spree

UAB Merko Statyba, a subsidiary of Estonia's Merko Ehitus construction group, and AB Baltic Shopping Centers have signed an agreement to build a 76,000-square-meter shopping and leisure center in Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas.

The cost of the project has not yet been settled, according to Merko officials.The center will include a 22,000-square-meter supermarket along with a gardening center and a building materials shop.

A bowling alley, nightclub and health spa are also planned.

Construction will begin by the end of August and should end in November 2003. (BNS)

Loans up

Personal loans to Latvian residents for housing repairs grew by 17.9 percent, or 22.13 million lats (37.3 million euros), in the first half of the year, according to Latvia's Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Housing loans to individuals totaled 145.9 million lats by the end of June, up from 123.8 million lats at the halfway point of 2001.

Personal loans to residents for consumer needs increased by 19.1 percent, or 12.6 million lats over the same period.

Loans to private companies in Latvia grew by 10.6 percent to 88.47 million lats by June 2002. (BNS)


Viciunai, Lithuania's leading fish processing company, opened a state-of-the-art processing plant in Russia's Kaliningrad region, increasing the already large presence of Lithuanian capital in the exclave.

Viciunai launched a crab stick production line in the Kaliningrad city of Sovyetsk with a capacity of 12 tons per day. Plans are afoot to start three additional production lines later this year, boosting capacity to 45 tons per day, said Gerimantas Stonkus, managing director of Viciunai's subsidiary Viciunai-Rus.

Production will be oriented toward Lithuania, Russia and the C.I.S. (BNS)