First casualty at Poland's state companies as PKP head quits

By bne IntelliNews November 30, 2015

The CEO of Polish state rail group PKP resigned on November 30, without offering his reasons. The move appears to support reports earlier in the month that the new government is planning a blood bath at the country's state giants.

Karnowski, appointed by the previous Civic Platform (PO) government in 2012 and tasked with selling off practically all of the former state monopoly's rail assets was reported to be one of the first in line for the chop by the new Law and Justice (PiS), which has a statist stance on the economy. Several other state company heads are set to follow, unconfirmed reports suggested.

A changing of the guard at Poland's top state companies alongside the government is standard in Poland, but it has been suggested PiS plans a wider cull than usual after eight years of liberal economic policy by PO. At the same time, the former government reliquished state control in very few major companies or sectors.

It is perhaps little coincidence that Karnowski was reported to be making progress on revitalising PKP Intercity. The passenger service was the last of PKP's major rail assets remaining; Karnowski told bne IntelliNews in October that it would be sold via IPO in 2018.

Piotr Cizkowicz, a member of the executive board and closely associated with the team pushing privatisation at the company, also handed in his resignation. Karnowski may be replaced by PKP's former CEO, Andrzej Wach, who was dismissed in late 2010 over poor oversight of the company, according to reports.

In a letter to PKP employees, Karnowski enumerated what he has achieved during his term as the CEO of the company, highlighting his push for the customer to be at the centre of PKP operations. He also mentioned the “big investment programme, record short travel times, high satisfaction of passengers, successful privatisation and very good financial results” as primary achievements.

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