Estonian software company eyes for Middle East

For typical software houses like Webmedia, Nordic and Baltic markets are not at all flattering. They’re boring and congested. “Everything is in place here,” Priit Alamäe, CEO of Webmedia bewails.

Webmedia is one of the biggest software houses in the Baltics and, to large extent the architect of Estonian banking, telecom and public IT services infrastructure as we know it.

Now all the excitement is in the Middle East and Africa for the company. Because over there, according to Alamäe, the IT-services market is in its infancy and surprise-surprise – unlike in Europe the governments there actually have money!

For starters Webmedia has provided services for Palestinian Tax Board. But recently  the company opened a new office in Doha, Qatar, an oil-rich country, that wants to become the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. Wembedia will establish –  based on the knowledge gained from Estonia – visas- and ID-cards-related e-services platform for local Ministry of Interior. The former chief architect of Estonian E-Tax Board, Aare Lapõnin now keeps an eye on the progress of Webmedia in the Middle East. He is the guy thanks to whom about 80 percent of Estonians declare their taxes online in 5 minutes.

Qatar seems to be only the beginning if Webmedia guys keep their heads cool and learn Arabic.  Alamäe is convinced that partly thanks to foreign activities Webmedia will keep up the growth pace 30-50 percent a year despite all worrying trends.

Here’s a link to a video, where Priit Alamäe talks about the goals of Webmedia, Estonia as unfortunately not very good IT-services export reference country and the effects of global economic recession to the relevant market.

Check out video here

Estonian PM ready to control prices to join euro

PM Andrus Ansip’s government is willing to do anything to join euro, even to control energy and water prices, Äripäev reports.

So the two ministries – Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications together with the Ministry of the Environment – will look over the question if broadening supervisory of Competition Authority would help to control the prices of local water companies.

Aare Järvan, Ansip’s economy advisor and coordinator of euro working group said that the Competition Authority should guarantee that monopolistic companies will not use their power and demand higher prices.

“It also means that the consumers must sense lower production prices too,” Järvan said.

Read more: BBN

Latvian businessman: The state has to buy the real estate with EEK 333 bln

The state of Latvia should buy all the real estate Latvians bought during the boom with LVL 15 bln (EEK 333 bln), Edgars Šins, the CEO of real estate company Latio told Dienas Bizness, reports.

He believes if the state bought those homes, then the real estate market starts functioning normally again, quotes. The state could help troubled homeowners by taking over their housing loans.

“Currently the amount of housing loans is three times higher than real estate’s value. It’s not fair to leave people alone with that problem. At the same time it shouldn’t be solved by manipulating with taxes. More radical decisions are needed,” he said.

The radical decision would mean that the state will take over people’s home loans and keeps the real estate until better times come. Šins estimated it would take about LVL 15 bln.

Latio is also operating in Estonia and managed by Šins.

Source: BBN

Stock exhange market dropped by 60 percent in 2008

On the securities markets, last year will be marked by a global financial crisis. Pessimism reached the securities market earlier than in the real economic statistics, resulting in a more than 60% drop in stock exchange indices (OMX Tallinn -62.98%, Baltic Benchmark Cap GI -66.69%). The annual turnover of NASDAQ OMX Tallinn Stock Exchange was MEUR 618 at 77 265 transactions. The average value of a stock transaction was EUR 7997.

The largest stock exchange group in the world, which was formed last year as a result of the merger of NASDAQ and OMX, launched the trading environment NASDAQ OMX Europe in September, which is based on the technology platform of NASDAQ OMX; at the end of the year, the information transfer services of the Nordic and Baltic stock exchanges were joined under the trademark GlobeNewswire. Since January of this year, the price information of the stocks listed on the Baltic stock exchanges of NASDAQ OMX can be observed in real time and as of February, the Baltic stock exchanges will extend their trading period by two hours. As a result of the integration process, the business name of Tallinn Stock Exchange was changed – as of December 2008, it is NASDAQ OMX Tallinn.

At the contest Baltic Market Awards, which took place for the third year in a row, the Baltic stock exchanges of NASDAQ OMX identified the publicly traded company with the best investor relations in the region, which in 2008 was SAF Tehnika; SEB Bankas was nominated as the best member of the stock exchange. Of the companies listed on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, Baltika was recognised as the best. At the end of last year, Tallinn Stock Exchange launched the book “Väärtpaberite teejuht” in order to raise the awareness of people, which was a sequel to the investment textbook “Investeerimise teejuht” published in 2007. Similarly to last time, this book will also be presented to all Estonian upper secondary schools, universities and libraries as a gift, so that investment related materials would be available for all interested people.

As a result of the division of AS Merko Ehitus, the shares of AS Järvevana, a new issuer, were listed in the main list of Tallinn Stock Exchange in 2008. In relation to the takeover bid of AS Carlsberg, AS Saku Õlletehas was removed from the main list of Tallinn Stock Exchange on 20 September 2008. In 2008, Instinet (UK), Finhill (Lithuania), SEB AB (Sweden), Bankas Finasta (Lithuania), and Evli Bank (Finland) became members of the Baltic stock exchanges; Ukio Bankas (Lithuania) became a pan-Baltic member and Nordnet (Rootsi) and Evli Securities (Estonia) ended their membership. As of the end of the year, the Baltic stock exchanges had 42 members.

Trade in the Baltics also showed signs of slowing down; the number of transactions dropped by almost one fifth during the year. A total of 69 470 cross-border securities transactions were made between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In addition, 132 transactions were made between Estonia and Poland. The cooperation agreement between the Estonian Central Securities Depository and the Polish Central Securities Depository was entered into in July 2007.

As a result of the global financial crisis, the volumes of investment funds also decreased. As at the end of 2008, the volume of investment funds registered in the Estonian Central Securities Depository was MEUR 257.6, of which MEUR 47.4 was made up of investments by private persons.The volume of additional pension funds dropped compared to the previous year, but the number of new joiners increased at a constant pace throughout the year. As at the end of 2008, 49 861 people had joined the additional pension funds.

As at the end of the year, 6666 companies were registered in the Estonian Central Securities Depository, of which 4842 were public limited companies. In 2008, the number of private limited liability companies in the Estonian Central Securities Depository increased by 262; there were 1824 private limited liability companies registered in the Central Registry at the end of the year. The value of the securities registered in the Estonian Central Securities Depository is more than BEUR 6.1. 

 Source:  Press release of NASDAQ OMX Tallinn 14.01.2009

Read more about statistics here 

Banks will rent out flats

Banks are planning to establish separate enterprises for keeping up of real estate, which fails to be sold in auctions due to stagnation in the real estate market, Latvian daily Dienas Bizness reports. “Possibly, the flats could be rented out,” admits Dzintars Kalnins, head of Private Banking Department in Swedbank. “If banks will enter this market, prices can be scaled down significantly and nobody will be able to compete,” says Janis Lasmanis, president of holding company Kolonna.

Source: BBN