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Poland sees up to $2 bln from sell-offs in 2008

Filed on January 9, 2008

WARSAW - Poland’s treasury minister said on Wednesday he expected privatisation revenue to reach 4.5 billion-5 billion zlotys ($1.8 billion-$2.0 billion) this year, double the value predicted by the previous government.

Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad also said in a radio interview that revenue from the sale of state-owned assets would be 25-27 billion zlotys over the next four years.

Earlier this week, Grad’s deputy said privatisation revenue could be double the 2.3 billion zlotys predicted by the previous conservative government in the 2008 budget.

The new centre-right cabinet has put an acceleration of privatisation, stalled over the last two years, among its priorities. But Grad reiterated he would tread carefully around the most sensitive sell-offs.

Privatisation plans for 2008 do not include a reduction in state-owned stakes in refiners PKN and Lotos, gas monopoly PGNiG

or copper miner KGHM.

Grad also aims to retain a grip on PKO BP, the last major bank in Poland under state control.

‘We are considering how to maintain the bank’s national character,’ Grad said. ‘But it needs capital and we are working on how to retain control as capital flows in.’

Grad said Poland could see its 51-percent stake in PKO fall below 50 percent as long as it remains the largest shareholder.

This contradicted Deputy Treasury Minister Michal Chyczewski, who baffled analysts saying the government’s PKO stake would remain above 50 percent even after a share issue that was being considered.

By 1012 GMT, PKO shares were down 3.3 percent, while Warsaw’s large cap WIG20 index had fallen 2 percent.

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