Poland Won’t Sell More Stakes in Public Companies in 2014

Poland has no plans “for now” to offer further shares in publicly-traded companies in 2014 after selling a 1.33 billion-zloty ($436 million) stake in PGE SA, its biggest power generator, a deputy treasury minister said.

The sale of a 3.5 percent stake in PGE this week was the first by the government aimed at boosting capital of its development fund Polskie Inwestycje Rozwojowe SA, known as PIR. The European Union’s biggest eastern country earlier used proceeds from asset sales to help finance the budget deficit.

“We now have a different approach to privatization,” Deputy Treasury Minister Wojciech Kowalczyk told reporters in Warsaw. “If we are to sell bigger stakes, the proceeds will support the investment program.”

PIR, set up in June 2013, plans to focus on financing oil exploration, power generation and telecommunication industries, according to its investment strategy. The government in 2012 approved a plan to sell parts of state-owned stakes in PGE as well as PKO Bank Polski SA, insurer PZU SA and chemical group Ciech SA to help quicken investments through the fund.

Enough Money

“The fund has enough money for this year’s activities,” Kowalczyk said. “However, we expect it to speed up work over investment projects in 2015.”

The ministry sees no need to add more companies to the list of assets earmarked for PIR, according to Kowalczyk.

The government, which raised 770 million zloty from asset sales for budget financing in the first half of 2014, will probably miss its full-year target of 3.7 billion zloty, said Kowalczyk, who oversaw debt management at the Finance Ministry before joining the Treasury Ministry on June 16. The proceeds for the budget next year may be lower than this year, he said.

Annual revenue from asset sales averaged 6.4 billion zloty in the last decade and helped the government limit borrowing, according to data on the Treasury Ministry’s website.

PZU Expansion

The Treasury wants PZU to continue its expansion at home and abroad after buying Baltic insurers from RSA Insurance Group Plc this year, Kowalczyk said. PZU, in which the state owns a 35 percent stake, should also invest in the health-care industry and hospital chains.

PKO, the country’s largest bank, should focus its expansion on the Polish market, according to Kowalczyk.

The Treasury expects the state-controlled Warsaw Stock Exchange to revise its strategy and focus on boosting liquidity and attracting new listings after this year’s pension overhaul. In February, Poland took over 51.5 percent of privately-managed pension funds’ assets to lower public debt.

The ministry will make a final decision on the bourse’s merger with Wiener Boerse “in several months.” The stock market operators started merger talks in April 2013.

Poland is keeping its plan to hold at least 50 percent of PGE and a controlling stake in smaller power utility Tauron Polska Energia SA, Kowalczyk said.

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