Company briefs - 2004-03-25

  • 2004-03-25
Sweden's furniture group IKEA has decided not to participate in a major investment project with Vilniaus Baldu Kombinatas (soon to be renamed Vilniaus Baldai), though the Lithuanian furniture manufacturer said it might proceed with the project on its own.

VBK CEO Viktoras Majauskas told company shareholders last week that there had been plans to begin production of floor panels for IKEA, but the latter reneged after its current supplier lowered its prices. Majauskas said VBK had conducted test production and was not ruling out implementing this project on its own. Last year the company's sales rose 7.9 percent to 88.6 million litas (25.7 million euros). IKEA's purchases accounted for 91 percent of total sales.

Copterline, the company that shuttles passengers between Tallinn and Helsinki by helicopter, has frozen plans to buy a large helicopter while the fate of its Estonian landing pad - the roof of the Linnahall arena - is under question. Investors who have placed a bid for the large Soviet-era sports and entertainment complex between Tallinn's Old Town and the Gulf of Finland said they would buy the property only if they could raze the present structure. For its part Copterline, which has been shopping around for a new helicopter that would accommodate more passengers, cannot finalize its purchase until it is certain of the location of the Copterline terminal. "The fates of Linnahall and Copterline are closely linked," company manager Tonis Lepp told the Baltic News Service.

Grindex, Latvia's largest pharmaceutical producer, has been looking into the possibility of manufacturing its products in Belarus, Board Chairman Valdis Jakobsons said. He explained that the company wanted to cut down on production costs, and one of the options available would be through the Borisov Plant of Medical Preparations. A representative of the Belarus plant told the Interfax news agency that Grindex was willing to invest $8 million in the plant on condition that it would be able to buy part - 40 percent-45 percent reportedly - of the plant later.

Russia's largest oil company Yukos, which owns and runs Lithuania's Mazeikiu Nafta complex, has no intentions of dismissing Mikhail Brudno (photo), head of Yukos' Lithuanian operations who is currently under investigation in Russia. "As far as I know no one in the company considered the possibility to replace Brudno at the board of Mazeikiu Nafta," Vladislovas Paulius, vice president of Yukos-RM, the refining and marketing unit of Russia's oil giant, told the Lietuvos Zinios daily. Brudno was forced to step down as president of Yukos-RM in February, and he reportedly moved to Israel in late 2003 to avoid persecution. Paulius also confirmed that Yukos was not considering a divestment in its Mazeikiu Nafta holdings. Yukos currently owns 53.7 percent of the company, which includes a refinery, pipeline and the Butinge oil terminal.

Nemunas, Lithuania's metal product manufacturer that is owned by Russia's Mechel Steel Group, has secured an additional Russian steel import quota of 42,000 tons as a result of negotiations between the EU and Russia, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry announced last week. The additional quota ensures that Nemunas will be able to import the raw material it needs. The EU currently sets quotas to Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstan steel, and Lithuanian Economy Ministry officials said that the economic bloc was likely to increase quotas after enlargement this May on the basis of steel demand in the enlarged union.

The Estonian media company Ekspress Grupp recently purchased Lithuania's Moteris, publisher of the magazines Moteris and Panele. Officials from Ekspress Grupp, which is 100 percent owned by Hans H. Luik, confirmed the acquisition. Ekspress Grupp floated a 15 million kroon (958,000 euro) three-year bond on March 17 to finance its investments in Lithuania. A national survey ranked Panele as the most widely read magazine in Lithuania.