LHV outpaced big banks in 2014

Estonian-owned LHV doubled its profits in 2014, while SEB, Swedbank and Danske all recorded a decrease or only moderate profit growth compared to 2013.

LHV reported 9.7 million euros in profits last year, compared to 4.3 million in 2013. The total value of deposits grew by 30 percent to 458 million and loans by 53 percent to 316 million euros. The bank’s investment funds increased by 34 percent to 504 million euros.

“The number of new clients and their active approach has increased our operations in all areas of activity,” LHV Group head Erkki Raasuke said.

Swedbank, the nation’s largest private bank, reported a 156-million-euro profit, down 11 percent compared to 2013.

Priit Perens, the head of the bank in the Baltics, said measures to boost efficiency have worked and they are working to further consolidate activities in the Baltics. He said the business sector is still complicated with the crisis in Ukraine, the weak rouble and low petroleum prices all having an effect.

SEB increased its profits by 1 percent to 75 million euros, while Danske bank reported a 23-million profit, far less than the 47-million-euro profit recorded in 2013.

Aivar Rehe, the head of the bank’s Estonian branch, said lower profits from financial investments and interest were the main cause for the fall.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

NASA uses Estonian-founded GrabCAD

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research, is using the Estonian-founded, US-based, online engineering platform GrabCAD to design a handrail clamp assembly (HCA) for the International Space Station (ISS) that can be printed on the ISS 3D printer.

Called NASA Handrail Clamp Assembly Challenge, the aim is to find the best design for a rigid clamp that is used by astronauts on the ISS. The handrail clamp is used by astronauts in a microgravity environment to mount various things.

The HCA design will be printed by the 3D printer on-board ISS and will be named CHAMP (Clamp for Handrail with Additively Manufactured Parts).

NASA is using the GrabCAD community of designers and engineers to find a new design.

Founded in 2010, GrabCAD helps engineers get products to market faster by connecting people, content and technology. The firm offers GrabCAD Workbench, a cloud-based collaboration tool that enables engineers and designers to share, view and manage CAD files and other design data. GrabCAD is also home to a community of more than 1.6 million members from around the world, who can access a large public CAD file library, as well as connect with other engineers.

GrabCAD was recently acquired by the US-Israeli provider of 3D printing solutions, Stratasys Ltd, for around 100 million dollars.

The NASA challenge will be open for submission until February 16 and winners will be announced on month later

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

University of Tartu to develop ‘space grease’

The Estonian Materials Technologies Competence Centre (MATECC) has just signed an agreement with the European Space Agency to develop a nanotechnology lubricant suitable for extreme conditions.

Shuttles and equipment used in space consist of numerous elements and have several friction-prone details, the surface of which must be greased to ensure smooth operation. Due to extreme temperature, pressure and radiation conditions, conventional oils and greases cannot be used in space. Hence, special materials must be developed to achieve a sufficiently long action time and reliability required for space applications.

Now that Estonia is about to become a full member of the European Space Agency, Estonian enterprises also get the chance to contribute to space-related development. Researchers involved in the activities of the Estonian Materials Technologies Competence Centre have been studying friction mechanisms and the characteristics of materials on the nanoscale for several years already and developed novel additives to lubricant oils together with the industry. The acquired knowledge and experience will be also used in the new cooperation project with the European Space Agency, the university’s press office reports.

Martin Järvekülg, Research Fellow in Materials Science at the University of Tartu and Project Manager of the Estonian Materials Technologies Competence Centre, said that the aim of the cooperation between the centre and the European Space Agency is to develop a lubricant based on the combination of nanoparticles and ionic liquids.

“The novel lubricant must be effective under both normal pressure and under vacuum, both in high and low temperatures,” said Järvekülg. If the researchers succeed in combining the strengths of liquid and solid lubricants in the new compound material, the results of the project can be also used elsewhere, where the extreme environment or the specifics of application place higher demands on the materials.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Russian, Belorussian opposition launching TV channel in Estonia

Russian and Belorussian opposition leaders are set to launch a Russian-language TV channel in Estonia, tasked with fighting against Kremlin propaganda in Eastern Europe.

The station will initially air online three times a week, but is planning to expand in April, Delfi reported.

The station is being bankrolled by the Danish government’s MyMedia program.

“Aru.tv is aimed at people in Russia and the Russian-speaking populations of the Baltic nations, Ukraine and Belarus. The main goal of the people behind the project is to offer propaganda-free information,” Pavel Morozov, one of the founders of the station, said. It is his second attempt at such an idea.

Artemy Troitsky, a Russian music critic who recently moved to Tallinn due to his anti-Kremlin views, is also heavily involved.

ERR, the public broadcaster, has unveiled plans for its own Russian-language television station, which should launch in September.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Estonia among the most talent-ready countries in the world

According to the global graduate business school, INSEAD, Estonia is among the most talent-ready countries in the world.

The second edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, created by INSEAD, in partnership with Singapore’s Human Capital Leadership Institute and Adecco, placed Estonia 19th in the index, just ahead of Japan and right after Belgium.

The index measures the countries’ ability to attract and incubate talent. According to INSEAD, in the ranking of 93 countries, European states continue to dominate the list with 16 of them in the top 25.

“Switzerland maintains its number one spot, while four non-European countries are among the top ten: Singapore, the United States, Canada and Australia,” INSEAD said in a statement.

“By virtue of their small size, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg – the top three – have no choice but to be open economies,” INSEAD added. “They show a high degree of openness in terms of trade, investments and people, where their small population, geography and lack of natural resources have meant that they have had to play the game of globalisation from early days.”

“Other countries which have realised that an attractive talent pool encourages multinational corporations to invest within their borders include the Nordic countries which are all in the top 20.”

In a video interview, the authors behind the index specifically singled out Estonia, by pointing out that it has made into the top 20, surpassing France (23), for example.

The top 20 talent-ready countries are:

1. Switzerland

2. Singapore

3. Luxembourg

4. United States

5. Canada

6. Sweden

7. United Kingdom

8. Denmark

9. Australia

10. Ireland

11. Norway

12. Netherlands

13. Finland

14. Germany

15. Austria

16. New Zealand

17. Iceland

18. Belgium

19. Estonia

20. Japan

INSEAD is one of the leading graduate business schools, with campuses in Europe (Fontainebleau, France), Asia (Singapore), and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi).

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

E-residency most popular among Finns and Russians

As of mid-January, Estonia had issued e-residency to 463 of the 650 applicants. The number of e-residents should be above 500 by now.

Estonian interior minister Hanno Pevkur said that the largest number of new e-residents came from Finland (239), followed by Russia (118), Latvia (39), the US (36) and the UK (24).

“We have also received applications from Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Mexico. It has gone rather well. Once we start to issue the digital ID cards in embassies, the number should increase much faster,” he said.

People who wish to apply for e-residency must currently travel to Estonia for a short period of time.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Winners and losers of cheaper oil in Estonia

• Cheaper oil boosts consumption and cuts production costs
• Lower energy prices reduce oil shale revenues
• Less expensive oil also diminishes export demand

Cheaper oil boosts consumption and cuts production costs
The positive oil price shock is expected to lift households’ real disposable incomes and companies’ profit margins in several sectors. Companies will benefit from lower energy costs and the higher real purchasing power of households. Spending on motor fuels amounts to around 6% of final consumption expenditure of households, i.e., around EUR 1,000 per household per year, on average. If oil prices were to decline by 30% in euros this year, then consumption would increase by less than 1 percentage point.

Lower energy prices reduce oil shale revenues
In 2014, the trade deficit of mineral products in Estonia was around 2% of GDP. Estonia imported petroleum and coal, but exported electricity, peat, cement, and crude petroleum oils. The good news is that the prices of electricity, peat, and cement are less directly linked to global crude oil prices, and the volumes of oil shale’s fuel oils are relatively small. The production of the fuel oils from oil shale constitutes around 2% of Estonia’s GDP and employs around 3,500 people (0.6% of total employment in Estonia).

Less expensive oil also diminishes export demand
Even when cheaper oil benefits Estonia’s consumers and a large part of its producers, it will reduce demand in net oil-exporting countries like Russia and Norway. The economic crisis in Russia – although not entirely caused by cheaper oil – will also worsen the outlooks for the Baltic economies and Finland. As a result, Estonia’s export market growth rate is lower, even when cheaper oil is believed to lift the economic growth rate of the EU and the world as a whole.

Source: Swedbank

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