In Brief - 2002-10-24

  • 2002-10-24
Hansapank ranks 19th in east

Hansapank occupied the 19th place in a table compiled by Standard & Poor's ranking Central and Eastern European banks by adjusted common equity (ACE), with several banks higher up in the list lagging behind Hansa in terms of profit and return on assets.

Compilation of the "Top 100" banks in the region ranked by ACE included banks from 14 countries in the region, but three countries provide the majority of the rankings: three Russian banks, 17 from Poland, and 11 from Hungary.

Estonia's Uhispank also made the list of top 100 banks in the region, ranking 62nd. Parex Bank, the highest Latvian bank, followed in 64th place, while Lithuania's Vilniaus Bankas was 85th.

With an ACE of $392 million at year-end, Hansapank posted a pretax profit of $99 million for 2001, which is better than the result of the 10 banks ranked higher on the table. Also, Hansapank's 2.91 percent ROA was surpassed only by Russia's Sberbank, which took the No. 1 position at 3.85 percent, and Vneshtorgbank, No. 2, at 5.88 percent. (Baltic News Service)

Narvesen Baltija franchising Latvia

The press and kiosk retail company Narvesen Baltija has franchised 28 Narvesen kiosks and three Preses Apvienibas news stands, handing franchise rights to outlet managers, reported the company. The franchise deals will not see any change in name or operations, but only an expected rise in profits for both Narvesen Baltija and the franchising companies, most of which are founded by outlet managers.

The Preses Apvienibas and Narvesen Baltija network currently has 456 retail outlets and kiosks in Latvia, most of which are located in Riga. The most demanded goods at these outlets are newspapers, followed by food, including ice cream and drinks.

Narvesen Baltija posted losses of 1.07 million lats (1.8 million euros) in 2001 on a turnover of 4.56 million lats. The company is 50 percent owned by Norwegian Narvesen ASA and 50 percent by Finnish Rautakirya OY. (BNS)

Mobile penetration rate tops 40 percent

The number of mobile-telephone users in Lithuania continues to rise at a fast rate. The country's mobile penetration rate exceeded 40 percent as of early October, up from 35 percent in June, according to data provided by Infobalt, the Lithuanian association of information technologies.

"The mobile penetration rate is forecast to reach 45 percent by the end of the year," said Dziugas Juknys, executive director of Infobalt. At the start of the year some 27 percent of the Lithuanian population used mobile phones.

According to Omnitel, the company currently has over 700,00 subscribers. Bite GSM announced that it has over 400,000 subscribers at present. Tele2, the country's third-largest operator on the market, refuses to reveal the number of its subscribers, but the estimated figure is 300,000. (BNS)

Estonian-Russian talks canceled

Consultations on economic and trade issus scheduled between Estonia and Russia last week were canceled in order to comply with World Trade Organization's requirements, the Russian ambassador to Estonia said.

"The WTO, whose member Estonia is and whose requirements it knows, asked Russia to make some changes in the text of the Estonian-Russian economic cooperation agreement," Konstantin Provalov said last week. The ambassador told reporters that plans for a plenary session of the Estonian-Russian intergovernmental commission had not changed and the meeting would take place as scheduled on Nov. 4-6 in Tallinn. "Ahead lies the signing of several serious documents that concern bilateral relations," the ambassador said.

A spokesman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry said the cancellation of the talks took the ministry by surprise, but Estonia nevertheless hopes to have a bilateral economic cooperation agreement signed by the end of November. (BNS)


A recent public opinion poll by the Latvian Central Statistics Office showed that 42.8 percent of Latvian households regard themselves as poor or on the verge of poverty. Of these, 9.4 percent of households said they were poor, and 33.4 percent said they were not exactly poor but on the brink of poverty.

Most of Latvian households - 51.2 percent - described themselves as neither rich nor poor. Only 6 percent stated their financial position was good and 0.1 percent saw themselves as well-to-do. The poll showed that 33.8 percent of households in urban areas and 32.3 percent of households in the countryside said they were on the verge of poverty.

Klaipedos Transporto to go on the block

Lithuania's privatization commission said on Oct.18 that it has approved a program for selling the shipping company Klaipedos Transporto Laivynas, setting an initial price of 65 million litas (18.83 million euros). The commission said that 80.89 percent of the company's capital would be offered for tender starting Oct. 23.

The privatization, which is the second attempt to sell the company, is expected to be concluded by the end of 2002. The company owns 15 refrigerated ships mainly used for transportation of food products. (Agence France-Presse)