VILNIUS - Vilniaus Bankas, Lithuania's largest commercial bank, announ-ced record earnings for fiscal 2003, while bank leaders said they intended to retain the lead on the domestic market and pursue a policy of eastward expansion this year.
The bank, supported by the Swedish financial group SEB, will introduce a number of promising large-scale projects of the group in the middle or by the end of 2004, bank President Julius Niedvaras said last week, including the placement of several bond issues.
"This year, we are planning to strengthen our positions in the retail banking segment and to enter new markets successfully. We hope to offer our customers more services inside our group," Niedvaras said at the Feb. 27 news conference.
He told journalists that the bank expanded its operations in Russia and Ukraine in 2003, prompting the bank "to pay much more attention to these markets this year." Customers of Vilniaus Bankas can already use leasing services in Russia through a SEB subsidiary in that country, while businessmen active on the Ukrainian market may apply for export and import financing.
The bank, which focuses on retail, announced a profit of 132.3 million litas (38.3 million euros) for 2003, the largest ever in Lithuania's banking history.
This year the bank wants to boost assets to 10 billion litas and pretax earnings to nearly 140 million litas, Niedvaras noted.
The bank held a 45.1 percent share on domestic corporate deposit market and a 29.3 percent share on private customer deposit market as of late 2003.