In Brief - 2003-05-15

  • 2003-05-15
Iraqi contracts could be elusive

Although some 130 Lithuanian companies intend to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq, only a few are likely to see any work, according to Lithuanian experts.

Lauras Gaisrys, vice director of the International Chamber of Commerce - Lithuania, reported that at most 30 percent of the Lithuanian companies that have applied to work in Iraq actually qualify, but even their chances to help rebuild Iraqi buildings, roads, bridges and energy infrastructure are small.

He said that poor knowledge of English and the companies' reluctance to incorporate would hamper their ability to win any lucrative contracts. Still, he lauded their efforts.

"This is a free promotion of the companies at the international market," Lauras Gaisrys said. (Baltic News Service)

Next target: deboned meat

ELA, the association of meatpackers that unites six meat processing firms in Estonia, has proposed a ban on importing mechanically deboned meat as an alternative to pork import duties and keeping the industry competitive.

In its appeal to the parliamentary Rural Life Committee, ELA proposed to ban beginning July 1 the import of machine-deboned meat, which would significantly improve the competitiveness of Estonian pork and cattle breeders. Imposing customs duties on all pork imports would send a negative signal to other countries and likely cause similar duties to be imposed on Estonia, the association observed in its letter to Agriculture Minister Tiit Tammsaar. (BNS)

Ventspils Nafta shareholders consolidating

Latvijas Naftas Tranzits, the largest private shareholder of Ventspils Nafta oil terminal, applied to the Latvian Privatization Agency to buy a 5 percent stake in the terminal reserved for LNT, said an agency spokesman.

Janis Bunte said LNT had paid the security deposit of 454,500 lats (692,800 euros) and that the privatization agency would consider the application in two weeks.

The price which LNT has to pay for the 5 percent stake will be determined based on the stock's average monthly price on the Riga Stock Exchange. During the past month Ventspils Nafta's average share price on the exchange was 0.9 lats, which means LNT will have to pay some 4.7 million lats for the 5 percent stake.

LNT was entitled to apply for the 5 percent stake in the oil terminal until July 1, 2003. In April the company announced it had decided to buy the stake, and to raise financing it sold 9.2 percent of VN's shares with the right to buy them back at a favorable time.

Before selling the 9.2 percent in April LNT held some 47 percent of Ventspils Nafta shares. The Latvian state has 43.6 percent, of which 5 percent are reserved for LNT. (BNS)

Overhaul complete at Mazeikiu

Mazeikiu Nafta said on May 9 it had completed repair and modernization works and had started to operate at full capacity.

The modernization will help to improve the quality of the Lithuanian refinery's oil products, as well as to optimize production of oil products and promptly react to changing demands on the market, according to refinery officials. Mazeikiu Nafta plans to invest $61 million into modernization this year.

The Russian oil company Yukos holds a 53.7 percent stake in the refinery, while the Lithuanian government holds 40.66 percent. (BNS)

Klementi to unveil trademark, new collection

The Tallinn-based garment maker Klementi intends to unveil its new trademark along with its new fall collection.

CEO Toomas Leis said the Klementi trademark would be remade immediately ahead of the fall season, the liveliest sales period in the garment industry. The company has begun to freshen up its image by opening stores with a new interior design in Tallinn and Riga.

On May 8 the company opened a 300-square-meter store in the new shopping center Origa in the heart of Riga, and this week Klementi's 400 square-meter store in Tallinn's Kristiine shopping center will open.

Klementi, which has 15 shops throughout the Baltics, plans to renovate its remaining stores gradually in 2003 and 2004. The cost of the project is almost 1.5 million kroons (95,850 euros). (BNS)

Tariff rise taken to courts

A settlement between Latvia's Free Trade Unions Association and Latvijas Gaze over a dispute on a rise in gas tariffs approved by the public services regulatory commission might be reached.

Association Deputy Chairman Egils Baldzens told reporters the trade unions would be ready for the settlement provided that the economic basis for the tariff increase are given and the tariff increase is not a rapid one.

Baldzens said the government failed to keep its earlier promises to Latvijas Gaze shareholders to liberate natural gas tariffs for industrial consumers, an issue which led Latvijas Gaze and the Latvian state to the Stockholm International Court of Arbitration, where a ruling is expected in late May or early June.

Latvijas Gaze Chairman Adrians Davis predicted that if the Latvian court strikes down the tariff increase approved by the regulator, Russia's Gazprom - a Latvijas Gaze shareholder and supplier - will raise the price of natural gas supplies to Latvia. (BNS)