Metaprint 2022 financial report critical of Kallas-led government

Martti Lemendik.
Martti Lemendik. Source: ERR

The Estonian company at the heart of a scandal which has engulfed prime minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) reported that its revenues rose by nearly 18 percent in 2022, a year both of soaring prices and Russia's launching of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, although export of the company's products to Russia make up a minority of its overall business.

AS Metaprint came under media scrutiny from Wednesday after it was revealed that the logistics firm which conveys its products – mostly metal aerosol cans – to the Russian Federation, is part-owned by the prime minister's husband, Arvo Hallik.

This did not stop Metaprint making in its 2022 financial report some fairly pointed remarks on the Kallas-led government's economic policies last year, however.

ERR obtained a copy of AS Metaprint's 2022 company report, and some of the key details are highlighted below.

AS Metaprint's majority stakeholder is Martti Lemendik (pictured).

Metaprint's turnover reached €99.7 million last year, up 17.5 percent on year.

Net profit rose by more than a fifth to €15.4 million, over the same time-frame.

Inflation last year had a deleterious effect on demand, as sales volumes dropped by around 10 percent – as noted revenues rose, likely mostly due to inflation.

Profitability was, however, also hampered by soaring energy prices from summer last year, AS Metaprint adds.

The greater share of sales revenue, at €74.7 million, consisted of sales to EU nations, while revenue from sales to non-EU nations came to €25 million, though the report does not detail which non-EU nations these were.

The company stated that it is one of the largest manufacturers of steel aerosol containers in the EU, and while these primarily pertain to "technical products," including paint and cleaning products, they also find uses in the food industry (for instance whipped cream) and in the beauty care products sector (haircare items, shaving foam), the company says.

The company says it is also rolling out aerosol containers to be used for pesticides and insecticides.

On its English-language website, the company says it moved into aerosol can production around 20 years ago, and currently has over 400 staff at various production plants both in Estonia and in the Netherlands.

While last year Metaprint focused on boosting its production capacity in its existing factories, it plans to start construction on a new plant in Tallinn next year.

Acquiring materials for use in research and development cost €31,000 last year, though the company's sister firms in various nations also undertook research and development, the report says.

Metaprint: We were able to add an additional million euros to Eesti Energia's profits

Metaprint also had this to say about state-owned energy generator Eesti Energia: "Metaprint also managed to make its own modest contribution by allocating an additional €1 million the state's Eesti Energia profit lines."

This tongue-in-cheek tone continues: "According to the conviction of Estonian politicians, our economic system is immune to the support policies offered by the governments of neighboring countries, and Estonian entrepreneurs are not affected by such distortion of competition."

"In order to end the suffering of the languishing manufacturing sector more swiftly, it was considered reasonable to instead hike the transmission fees of energy carriers," the report added, likely referring to a pilot project unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications at the start of this year (link in Estonian) which involved physical information boards being placed in some select manufacturing companies' production areas, with the aim of introducing the company and its activities to the public and local community.

These information boards were paid for by the ministry.

"The initiative of the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications, which put up an information board, at the expense of the state, at every processing industry company, helped to ease the general anger of entrepreneurs."

"We can highlight the positive results achieved thanks to this project in the ensuing activity reports, if the luck should materialize in the appearance of a sign acquired via a minority bid, in front of our modest facility," the statement went on.

ERR approached Martti Lemendik for comment and, while he was unavailable at that time, he said he would respond to questions in the evening.

Freight transportation firm Stark Logistics, 24.8 percent owned by Arvo Hallik, spouse of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), has been facilitating shipments of AS Metaprint products to the Russian Federation.

Metaprint is Stark Logistics' sole client so far as transit to Russia goes, Stark says, and is fulfilling long-term contracts with the aim of wrapping up all business in September.

Controversy engulfed the prime minister from Wednesday onwards as politicians, the media and the public queried what the basis was for the head of government to take a hard-line on doing any form of business with Russia, in the wake of the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, while the same time that a firm her husband has a stake in was doing just that.

Kallas had also loaned €350,000 to Hallik's company, Novaria Consult OÜ, through which he owns his stake in Stark. These funds were ostensibly for investment purposes though at the time reported to be earmarked for the construction of a private residence.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Andrew Whyte

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