Markets watch Ventspils

  • 2003-04-03
  • Thomas Foulquier

The Baltic Index of 15 Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian blue chip stocks - all priced in euros - was down a scant 0.3 percent to 183 points last week.

The central focus in Latvia continued to be the situation surrounding Ventspils Nafta, the beleaguered oil terminal. Last week Latvian Vice Prime Minister Ainars Slesers submitted to Prime Minister Einars Repse documents related to alleged illegalities in the first stage of the oil terminal's privatization.

Slesers himself described the possible illegalities in Ventspils Nafta privatization as "the loudest ever scandal in Latvia and outside its borders."

Janis Neimanis, financial analyst for Transit Bank in Riga, said, "I suppose there are Russian companies that want to buy Ventspils Nafta, but the government is unable to sell all the shares they want. They are just trying to find a solution to this problem."

Investors put a positive spin on the development, and the stock finished the week up 2.2 percent.

"Investors were more interested in Latvijas Balzams," said Neimanis.

LASCO, the Latvian shipping company, was flat over the week at 0.4 euro, as investors were apparently unimpressed by EU talks about a likely ban of single-hull vessels in maritime zones controlled by EU countries.

In Tallinn, Hansapank recovered from last week's fall, gaining a total of 2.3 percent to 15.80 euros on almost half of the Estonian stock exchange turnover.

"Buying interest in Hansapank stock was generated and the turnover was considerable," LHV investment bank broker Alo Vallikivi told the Baltic News Service. "There are no sellers worth mentioning."

Eesti Telekom, the stock likely to be impacted by the international situation, was up 1.7 percent to 5.50 euros.

In Vilnius, large investors' interest in Snaige lead the refrigerator producer share price up almost 4 percent, to 34.7 euros, as investors greeted news about the company's expansion plans in Russia.