The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union, is providing ECU 15 million for the development of a GSM mobile telephone network in Lithuania. The new digital cellular network covers the main cities and transport corridors in the country, forming the core investment which can be extended later in line with demand. The system provides a broad range of services and wide connections with other GSM networks both in Europe and elsewhere.

Mobilios Telekommunikacijos (Bité GSM) is a Lithuanian limited liability company and its shareholders include Tele Danmark International, Millicom International Cellular at Luxembourg and Lintel UAB of Lithuania. The EIB loan is being guaranteed by ING Bank. The project is also supported by Danish I and the Lithuanian Development Bank.

Commenting the loan, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth said: 'The project will contribute to the development of telecommunications infrastructure and of mobile telecommunications in particular, thus alleviating a critical bottleneck which could hamper the transformation and growth of the economy. Furthermore, it helps develop a pan-European mobile telephone network.'

Total EIB lending in the Central and Eastern European countries has now reached nearly ECU 5 billion. Countries in the region receiving EIB financing comprise Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31.12.96, when ECU 1 = 4.97340 LTL, 0.74 GBP.