State car company sale the first of many

Prime Minister Kubilius has reason to smile: the state assets reform initiative was lauded earlier this month by The Economist. Photo by the Lithuanian State Chancellery.

VILNIUS — Lithuania’s State Property Fund wants to sell its 87 percent stake in car rental company Autoūkis, the first of a long-term shake up of state owned companies.

Some of them will be sold off for cash to be used for other government purposes, while some need to be streamlined by private owners. Recently the country commissioned the first independent audit of the state’s assets. Until now, no one outside privileged circles knew how much the state assets were worth.

An auction of the shares is planned for Sept. 8, when the government expects to receive around 7.32 million litai (€2.12 million).

The company is not performing as well as could be expected considering the assets that the company has. It has an authorized capital of 6.9 million litai, fixed assets of 5 million litai, but liabilities of 4.38 million litai.

The company’s turnover last year amounted to 6.97 million litai.

The company is an example of the states enterprises — almost all too big to keep track of and making very little profit for the country.

The audit of the states assets found that Lithuania has around 18 billion litai within its control via state-owned companies. These companies however only returned 45 million litai to the state in dividends.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told the Financial Times that his government would be selling off multiple assets to raise money for the country’s energy future.

“We’re pushing our state-owned enterprises to create the possibility of attracting private capital through IPOs and the capital markets,” Kubilius said. “Energy will be the first priority because we have big investment projects, such as the new nuclear reactor, which need capital.”

In the same article, Lithuanian Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said that they would be trying to optimize the companies before offloading them at dirt cheap prices.

“I don’t think you can get a good price by selling companies at this time, but there is a possibility we could increase the flow of money into the state treasury by improving management,” she told the Financial Times.

Among other industries to return poorly is the state’s forest industry. Though its area of forest is similar to Latvia’s, the Latvian government received €67 million from the industry in 2008, while the Lithuanian government received nothing at all. Lithuania announced it will streamline is state-owned forestry companies.

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