Polish Refiner Names Pietryszyn CEO as Veteran Olechnowicz Quits

  • Lotos picks Pietryszyn new acting boss for up to three months
  • Cabinet seeks to cut Polish reliance on Russian energy imports

Poland dismissed Grupa Lotos SA Chief Executive Pawel Olechnowicz, whose 14 year-tenure as head of the nation’s second-biggest refiner spanned seven prime ministers, the latest move by the government to tighten its grip over key industries.

The firing on Wednesday made Lotos the last of the nation’s 14 biggest publicly traded state companies to be shuffled by the Law & Justice government that came to power in November. The party, which pledged to reduce Poland’s dependence on energy supplies from Russia, changed boards at four power groups, the nation’s biggest insurer and bank, its copper and coal miners as well as a fertilizer maker and a rail cargo company.

Robert Pietryszyn, a member of the management board at a state-run insurer PZU SA, was named acting CEO and Lotos hasn’t yet said who will permanently replace Olechnowicz. The board also dismissed Deputy CEOs Marek Sokolowski and Zbigniew Paszkowicz, according to the statement. Lotos needs “fresh blood” and people with new ideas on how Lotos should “turn the corner,” Treasury Minister Dawid Jackiewicz told reporters in Warsaw. Poland holds a 53.2 percent stake in the Gdansk-based company.

Under Olechnowicz, Lotos survived a 73% oil-driven shares slump in 2008.

Olechnowicz, who was picked for the top post under a post-communist party government in March 2002, oversaw Lotos’ debut on the Warsaw bourse in 2005. He then steered the refiner through the global financial crisis and helped it to more than triple its revenue, double its refining capacity and expand abroad to neighboring Lithuania and Norway. Shares in Lotos gained 1.1 percent to 27.3 zloty as of 2:38 p.m. in Warsaw, valuing the company at 5.05 billion zloty ($1.33 billion).

In October, just before the parliamentary ballot, Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha criticized Lotos at a press conference for what he claimed was engaging in the election campaign by displaying on social media the pictures of the rival party’s candidates visiting Lotos facilities.

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