In Brief - 2003-05-29

  • 2003-05-29
Fidelity bullish on Eesti Telekom

The international investment services provider Fidelity has become the third largest shareholder in Eesti Telekom with a 9.6 percent stake.

Eesti Telekom's largest shareholders are TeliaSonera and the Estonian state, which own 49 percent and 27.3 percent of the shares, respectively, followed by Fidelity, then J.P. Morgan (1.1 percent) and Danske Capital (1 percent).

CEO Jaan Mannik said that Fidelity had been increasing its stake in Eesti Telekom gradually. He added that, in his opinion, Fidelity has no strategic interest in the Baltic telecommunication company but rather sees the potential of Estonia's stock market. He said Fidelity has invested in other companies of the region as well, including Hansapank.

Eesti Telekom had more than 3,500 shareholders in all. Less than one-fourth of the shares are in free circulation. (Baltic News Service)

Lithuania to Latvia: hands off pork prices

Lithuania on May 23 called upon Latvia once again to refrain from taking unilateral measures that would cut the amount of Lithuanian pork entering the country.

Lithuania's proposal was set forth in a note sent to Latvia by the Foreign Ministry, the ministry's press service reported. Vilnius urged Riga to consider this issue at the meeting of the Joint Committee of the Free Trade Agreement between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which plans to consider the resolution by the Latvian market protection committee to apply additional duties on pig and pork imports as a means to protect the local market. (BNS)

Price for gas to fall in Lithuania

Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) has offered to lower natural gas prices for households and small commercial consumers by 8 percent on average starting July 1.

Lietuvos Dujos, which buys Russian gas for U.S. dollars and sells it for litas, said the decision was motivated by the weakness of the U.S. currency. The company has also proposed not to increase prices for transmission, distribution and supply services to large industrial consumers, which are free to choose their supplier, the company said in a statement.

The Lithuanian national currency has been pegged to the euro at a fixed rate and has increased tremendously against the U.S. dollar in recent months.

Lietuvos Dujos submitted its proposals regarding the natural gas prices to the National Control Commission for Prices and Energy on May 23. The commission is expected to analyze the prices and take a decision on May 29, and Lietuvos Dujos must announce the new prices to consumers by June 1 at the latest. (BNS)

New place to spend night on border

A new hotel and conference center opened in the Taagepera manor palace in southern Estonia close to the Estonian-Latvian border on May 23.

The new hotel has 32 rooms for 60 guests, manager Teresa Lehtsaar said. Investment in the hotel totaled 12 million kroons (770,000 euros), and the project brought 20 new jobs to the Valga county.

The early 20th century manor house situated some 250 kilometers from the capital Tallinn is unique in that it derives architecturally from the Finnish national romantic style rather than the Baltic tradition. (BNS)

Alcohol production soaring in Latvia

Latvia's alcohol producers made 718,100 deciliters of alcoholic beverages in the first quarter of the year, up 36 percent on the same period last year, according to the State Revenue Service.

In terms of absolute alcohol content, production was up 60 percent, which is largely due to a great boost in spirits drink exports made by market leader Latvijas Balzams. By contrast, sales in terms of absolute alcohol content were down 3.6 percent, meaning that Latvians are drinking weaker drinks, such as beer, wine and cider.

Imports to Latvia in the first quarter reached 365,000 deciliters, up 3 percent, while alcohol exports over the three months reached 455,900 deciliters, up nine times in comparison to the same period last year. Ninety-two percent of exports was comprised of spirits made by Russia's SPI group, which lost its trademarks in Russia and has begun exporting under the Latvijas Balzams, also part of the group.

Latvia has 19 companies licensed for alcohol production, though only nine did so in the first quarter. Meanwhile, 60 companies have alcohol importing licenses.

Over 40 percent of all the alcohol sold in Latvia is made by Latvijas Balzams.

The Latvian State Revenue Service has collected 8.9 million lats (14.8 million euros) in alcohol excise taxes during the first quarter, up 1.7 percent year-on-year. (BNS)

Interconnection fees to be reduced

Lietuvos Telekomas (Lithuanian Telecom) and Omnitel, both of which are controlled by the Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera, have agreed on lower interconnection fees that will lead to considerable cuts in rates for calls from fixed lines to mobile telephones.

Currently, the rate for calls from Lietuvos Telekomas' fixed-line network to Omnitel's mobile network is 1.15 litas (0.365 euro) per minute during peak hours.

Starting Jun. 1, the rate for end-users will go down by nearly 35 percent, Lietuvos Telekomas said in a statement. The new approximate rate calculated will amount to 0.75 litas per minute during peak hours.

TeliaSonera owns 60 percent of Lietuvos Telekomas, the former fixed-line telephone monopolist, and Omnitel, the country's largest mobile operator. (BNS)