Rautakirja Oyj has increased its holding in Latvian-based Narvesen Baltija SIA from 35% to 50%. Following this, the Latvian company will be jointly and equally owned by Rautakirja and Reitan Narvesen ASA of Norway.

Rautakirja's cooperation with Reitan Narvesen in Latvia began in April 1999 through the purchase of 35% of Narvesen Baltija SIA. The current deal involves the acquisition from the third owner, the Norwegian-Latvian real estate investment company Linstow-Varner, of its 10% holding in Narvesen Baltija, and of a further 5% previously owned by Reitan Narvesen.

Narvesen Baltija has 470 kiosks, which trade under the Preses Apvieniba brand. In addition, the company has 22 convenience store outlets that operate under the Narvesen name. The sales outlets operated by Rautakirja in connection with Neste service stations in Latvia will be transferred to Narvesen Baltija under the new arrangement.

In addition to retail kiosk operations, Narvesen Baltija is involved in wholesale press distribution activities in Latvia, and operates a number of cafés. The cosmetics stores owned by Narvesen Baltija will be transferred to Reitan Narvesen as a result of this change in ownership.

Narvesen Baltija’s annual net sales after the adjustments will be in the order of FIM 220 million, and the company will employ some 1,600 people.

Draft agreement for Latvian press distribution falls through

A draft agreement signed in June between Lehtipiste, the Rautakirja unit responsible for wholesale newspaper and magazine sales in Finland, and four leading Latvian publishing houses covering cooperation in Latvia in marketing and distributing newsstand copies of newspapers and magazines has expired after the parties failed to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement within the time limit set by the agreement.

Rautakirja’s aim now is to develop a wholesale and distribution company for press products within Narvesen Baltija to serve the needs of both Latvian publishers and the retail trade.

A strong Baltic presence

The Rautakirja Group has expanded vigorously in recent years in the three Baltic countries. The Group is involved in kiosk, wholesale press distribution, movie theatres, bookstore operations, and sports betting in Estonia; and move theatre operations in Latvia and Lithuania.

Of the total net sales of FIM 3,833 million recorded by Rautakirja in 2000, the Baltic states accounted for FIM 138 million. More than 1,000 people were employed by Rautakirja units in the Baltic states as of the end of July 2001.