Poland Won’t Sell Refiner Lotos Next Year, Prime Minister Says

Poland won’t complete the sale of Grupa Lotos SA, its second-largest oil refiner, before 2012, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.

The Treasury Ministry called for bids for Lotos in October and gave potential buyers until Feb. 4 to place initial offers. The invitation is “the first step in what will probably be a very long process,” which may not end in a sale, Tusk said at a news conference in Warsaw today.

The deal is part of a four-year program in which Poland plans to raise 55 billion zloty ($18 billion) from selling assets. This year the country plans to reach 25 billion zloty from such sales. The government’s 53 percent stake in Lotos was valued at 2.28 billion zloty at 3:41 p.m. in Warsaw trading.

Russian companies such as OAO Gazprom and OAO Rosneft are interested in acquiring Lotos and may team up to bid, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said yesterday.

Tusk said Poland has no objections to Russian companies bidding for Lotos.

“The period of prejudice against Russia has ended in Poland,” he said. “We’re not hiding it from the Russians that Lotos is a company of a special importance for our energy security,” he said, adding that the resulting criteria may be “difficult” for potential bidders.

Lotos’s refinery, based in Gdansk on the Baltic Sea, will process 10.5 million tons of oil a year starting in 2011, after the company increased capacity from 6 million tons last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maciej Martewicz in Warsaw at mmartewicz@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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