Nafta Polska President Krzysztof Zyndul last week announced that Poland is likely to commence a process to sell an additional stake in its leading fuel maker, PKN Orlen, in 2005, once the company prepares its development strategy and Poland prepares its energy security strategy.
The government agency is responsible for the privatisation and restructuring of Poland’s fuel and chemical sectors. The government currently owns a 27.5percent stake in PKN Orlen.
In 1999 and 2000, the government listed over 70 percent of the company’s shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and in the form of global depositary receipts traded in London and New York.
Top Hungarian oil and gas concern MOL and Austria’s biggest oil company OMV have both discussed with the Polish government on and off over the past several years about purchasing a stake in PKN Orlen. Orlen is also expected to finish its takeover of top Czech oil company Unipetrol in 2005.
“There is a chance to perform the third stage of PKN Orlen privatisation in 2005, but under several conditions,” Zyndul told Interfax on December 20. He further added, “These would include preparation of a national energy security strategy, as well as development strategy from the PKN Orlen itself.”
PKN Orlen is expected to present the strategy sometime in January-February 2005 period. The Polish government was expected to discuss energy security strategy, due to include details on the government’s control over the sector and its diversification, last week.
Zyndul said it would rather sell a stake in the country’s biggest oil company to a strategic investor, rather than float another stake on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The agency wants to link PKN Orlen to an investor, who would also participate in the search for the oil fields and their extraction. “It would be the best solution for an oil-field exploration partner to become the strategic investor for Orlen, but it’s not obligatory,” Zyndul added.
Earlier this year, Polish Treasury Minister Jacek Socha said that statute changes reducing the Treasury’s shareholder privileges would have to precede further privatisation of PKN Orlen.
Currently, the treasury owns directly and indirectly, mainly through its Nafta Polska unit, a combined 27.53 percent stake in Orlen. The next-biggest stake is a 10.91 percent stake in GDRs held by Bank of New York.