Postimees to stop publishing Russian-language papers

Estonian publisher Postimees Grupp announced on Thursday that it will give up the print version of the Russian-language edition of Postimees as well as the Russian-language weekly Den za Dnyom. Instead, it will focus on developing Russian-language news portals.

“The number of subscriptions and readers of all Russian-language newspapers published in Estonia has been in decline in recent years. At the same time the number of readers of Russian-language online publications has increased substantially,” CEO of Postimees Grupp, Peep Kala, said.

The group will focus on developing Russian-language news portals rus.postimees.ee, limon.ee, and krasotka.ee.

“The trend where readers as well as advertisers are moving online is developing quickly in Estonia’s Russian-language media, and therefore we will contribute more to developing Russian-language news portals,” Kala said.

“We want to thank everybody who ever contributed to publishing the print edition of Estonia’s oldest Russian-language newspaper, and all those who have been its faithful readers. We would like to invite everyone to read news in Russian on our Russian-language portals,” he added.

AS Postimees Grupp is part of Eesti Meedia, the Baltic’s biggest media group. It publishes Postimees, regional newspapers Tartu Postimees, Pärnu Postimees, Sakala, Virumaa Teataja, Järva Teataja, and Valgamaalane, as well as Maa Elu, the magazine “60+” and the digital magazine “30+”.

The Baltic News Service (BNS) also belongs to Eesti Meedia.

Source: ERR News

Head of Estonian tax authority to begin working in Nortal

Marek Helm, current director general of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA), will be joining the software and business consultancy company Nortal as director of the company’s public finance and change management team in mid-January 2017.

According to Nortal founder and CEO Priit Alamäe, Helm has carried out extensive reforms and necessary transformations in one of the most important public authorities in Estonia for which there is strong demand globally. “Effective tax collection and transparent public finance management is becoming more relevant globally,” said Alamäe in a press release. “By uniting Helm’s experience with our knowledge and references, we are creating an international center of competence and export capability while preserving a recognized leader for Estonia.”

Helm said that he has worked in the public sector for over 20 years and feels that the time has come to put himself to the test in the private sector. “Nortal is a company with growing ambition and international scope that exports Estonian e-government success stories,” said Helm. 2I’m glad that with my expertise and experience I can contribute to the company’s continuous expansion to export markets that are of great importance to Estonia.”

The MTA’s current director general noted that he would be handing over the management of the state authority to his successor with peace of mind. “This is a fantastic organization and a professional close-knit team that serves the Estonian society and is a great partner for taxpayers,” Helm said.

“During the past few years, Nortal has made significant investments to develop internationally recognized competence in the field of complex e-government reforms,” explained Nortal’s CEO. “Our aim is to address a client’s needs as a whole by offering holistic service concepts that include everything from legislative drafting, organization and process re-design to the implementation of new technologies and change management. Marek Helm’s long-term experience in public sector reforms and creating more effective processes, where knowledge-based and well thought through change management plays an important role, fits perfectly with Nortal’s plans and strategy.”

Helm has led the MTA as director general from December 2011. Prior to that position, he was deputy secretary general for public governance policy at the Ministry of Finance from 2009-2011, led the founding of the joint internal security office under the Ministry of the Interior from 2007-2009, deputy secretary general for internal security of the Ministry of the Interior from 2006-2007 and director of the Ministry of the Interior’s Internal Security Department in 2006. From 2004-2006, Helm held the position of deputy director general of the MTA and in 2003-2004, deputy director general of the Customs Board in the customs enforcement and pre-trial investigation fields.

Nortal is an international strategy consultancy and software solutions company focusing on e-governance, health care, telecommunications, production and logistics. It operates in nearly 20 countries and employs 530 specialists. Nortal posted sales revenue of 45 million euros in 2015.

Source: ERR News

Software developer Nortal merges with Swedish company

Swedish company Element, a B2B marketing and sales strategy and technology firm located in Northern Europe, is slated to merge with Estonian software developer Nortal via share swap. The merger will also mark a brand new service offering in the Estonian company’s portfolio — revenue science.

While the merger will mark Nortal’s expansion to Sweden, it will simultaneously mean the expansion of Element’s service offering to the Baltics, Finland, Germany and the Middle East, where Nortal already maintains a growing presence. Nortal CEO Priit Alamäe said in a press release.

Through the merger, Nortal will acquire all shares of Element AB, while the latter’s shareholders, including the company’s management and employees, will join the ranks of Nortal’s shareholders alongside the existing 34 shareholders who are all Nortal employees. Element CEO Jonas Ander, meanwhile, will join Nortal as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

“Strategy, technology and marketing are converging disciplines, the common denominator being big data,” explained Ander. “Big data is a fundamental consequence of the digital marketing landscape. Nortal, being a thought leader in the field, is the partner we have been looking for to be able to deliver predictive marketing analytics, sustainable change and impact to our clients.”‘

Pursuant to the parties’ agreement, the merger transaction value will be kept confidential, however Element financials will be consolidated into Nortal’s financial results as of October 2016, bringing the group’s total estimated revenue to 50 million euros in 2017.

Tallinn-based Nortal is a multinational full-service strategic change and technology company that provides services to governments and leading businesses around the world. It operates in nearly 20 countries, employing over 500 specialists who carry out high-quality, mission-critical and high-impact projects across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Element offers services within B2B sales and marketing processes, ranging from strategy consulting, process transformation marketing automation, CRM, content marketing as well as other marketing and sales software solutions. The Swedish company delivers a professionalization of their client’s revenue processes, increased conversion of qualified leads to customers and shorter sales cycles. Element currently has operations in all Nordic countries, Germany and the Middle East, with offices in Stockholm and Helsinki.

As a result of the merger, the Swedish company will be bringing 17 marketing science consultants to Nortal.

Source: ERR News

Estonia denies that UK offer to help with experts is influencing attempt

A high-ranking Estonian official responsible for EU affairs has denied claims alleging that the British offer to provide its experts to help Estonia with the EU presidency in the second half of next year represents an attempt to influence Brexit negotiations.

“The claim made in the Politico article to the effect that Brits are influencing us is a pure invention,” Klen Jäärats, director for European Union Affairs at the Government Office, told BNS.

American political-journalism website Politico reported on Thursday that the UK had launched a behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort to influence EU affairs during the Brexit process by offering to lend officials to Malta and Estonia, two small countries that will hold the bloc’s presidency next year.

The fact that Estonia will be borrowing experts for its presidency from other member states and EU institutins was known long before the Brexit referendum was held, said Jäärats.

Read more from ERR News

Kersti Kaljulaid elected next President of Estonia

The Riigikogu has elected Estonian representative to the European Court of Auditors Kersti Kaljulaid as the next President of the Republic of Estonia. Kaljulaid, who will also be Estonia’s first woman president, is scheduled to be sworn into office on Monday, Oct. 10.

Prior to the official roll call which precedes each round of voting, MP Kadri Simson (Center), on behalf of 31 MPs, presented President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor with a draft amendment to the Constitution for the implementation of direct elections for the President of the Republic.

MP Laine Randjärv (Reform) also posed a question to the Riigikogu regarding whether the current elections were following democratic procedure if the media was already reporting about presidential candidate Kersti Kaljulaid and the press scheduling an interview with Kaljulaid for Monday evening, for which Nestor apologized.

Read more from ERR News

Estonia imports garbage for energy plants

When demand for garbage, used to generate heat for homes in Tallinn as well as a plant boiler in Kunda, exceeds domestic supply, Estonia must import garbage from abroad.

Six years ago, two thirds of household waste in Estonia was disposed of in landfills. Waste-to-energy (WtE) plants were launched by Ragn-Sells in Tallinn and at Jõelähtme landfille, and a waste incineration block went online at Iru Power Plant in 2013. Since then, the disposal of waste at landfills has decreased by one-tenth of garbage collected from homes., reported daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian).

Read more from ERR News

Estonia parliament votes for first female president

Kersti Kaljulaid wins unanimous vote after she was put forward as unity candidate following weeks of party wrangling

Estonia’s parliament has selected a new president who will be the country’s first female leader.

Kersti Kaljulaid, a European Union accountant, won Monday’s vote 81-0, with 20 members absent or abstaining. Her selection follows two failed votes and weeks of heated debate.

Kaljulaid, 46, will succeed the current president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is stepping down next week after two five-year terms in the ceremonial post.

Read more from The Guardian

Increased investment indicates that economic growth may accelerate

  • Certain individual sectors were the cause of slower growth in the economy in the second quarter
  • Increased investment activity of companies in the first half of the year indicates that economic growth may pick up
  • The share of labour-intensive sectors in the economy is increasing, and upwards pressure on labour costs remains strong
  • Consumer prices were at the same level in August as at the start of 2013, but inflation will rise in the months ahead

Yearly growth in the Estonian economy remained slow in the second quarter. Growth was weakened by a fall in value added in the energy and mining sectors and in real estate activities, but it was broad-based across the other sectors. Growth was led by more labour-intensive sectors and that explains at least partially why the number of people in employment and the average wage have increased even as overall figures for economic growth have been low. The increase in unfilled positions also shows that the upwards pressure on domestic wages caused by labour shortages has probably not yet faded.

Exporting companies considered their own competitiveness in both the European Union market and elsewhere to be better than in the beginning of the year. This is in line with a revitalisation of Estonian trade in the second quarter. Investments in fixed assets also increased in the second quarter. Investments by households in housing increased, and so did corporate investment, making it more likely that the persistent gap of recent years between economic growth and wage growth will be closed through increased labour productivity rather than through a sharp braking of wage growth.

Having fallen for more than two years, prices rose in August and took consumer price inflation back into positive territory. However, the price level has been rising steadily on a monthly basis since the start of the year, and in a little over half a year consumer prices have climbed by around 2%. Price pressures have remained weak despite rapidly rising wage costs and increasing demand. This is partly because profit margins have been slimmed, and partly because the oil price has been low and prices have risen only slowly for imported commodities. The impact on inflation of cheaper energy is fading out, and that will boost inflation in the near future.

The consequence of the fall in prices in the meantime was that consumer prices were at a similar level in August this year to where they were at the start of 2013. During this time the average gross wage increased by 20% however, meaning that the average purchasing power of residents increased by about one fifth in three years, which has resulted in fast growth in retail sales and in private consumption.

Strong growth in wage income and consumption has boosted tax revenues. Tax revenues have also been raised by higher excise rates for alcohol, tobacco and fuels. In the first half of the year, general government income exceeded expenditure and for the year as a whole the budget should remain in surplus. Growth in general government spending has been seriously limited by a reduction in investment, but the cut in the numbers employed by government institutions in an effort to keep the size of the public sector the same relative to a shrinking population has also had an impact.

Source: Bank of Estonia

Estonia’s balance of payments for 2015

The euro area economy as a whole grew faster in 2015 than in the preceding years, and by the end of the year total output had reached about the same level as before the crisis. Economic growth in Estonia unfortunately slowed and was the slowest of the past six years, remaining below the long-term potential of the country. The slowdown was mainly due to the weak economic climate in several neighbouring countries and the restricted ability to export that followed from that. This left growth largely based on increased domestic consumption while both exports and corporate investment declined.

Read more from Bank of Estonia website

In August, the volume of industrial production increased

According to Statistics Estonia, in August 2016, the production of industrial enterprises increased 1% compared to August of the previous year. Production increased in the energy sector, but decreased in manufacturing and in mining and quarrying.

Compared to August 2015, the production of electricity increased 49% and the production of heat 9%. More than one-third of the produced electricity was exported.

In August, manufacturing production fell 1% compared to August 2015. Production did not surpass the volume of the previous year in half of the branches of industry. The decline in production was mostly due to a decrease in the manufacture of electronic, food and metal products. Production rose in the manufacture of wood products, electrical equipment and furniture.

In August, 69% of the whole production of manufacturing was sold on the external market. According to unadjusted data, the export sales of manufacturing production rose 8% and domestic sales 4% compared to August 2015. In August 2016, there were three working days more than last year.

In August 2016 compared to the previous month, the seasonally adjusted total industrial production fell 1%, with production in manufacturing having decreased 3%.

Diagram: Volume index of production in manufacturing and its trend

Read more from Statistics Estonia