Lotos chief unlucky number thirteen in Polish state company bloodbath

By bne IntelliNews April 13, 2016

The long serving CEO of Polish state-controlled oil refiner Lotos has been dismissed, the company announced on April 13.

The sacking of Pawel Olechnowicz, who had run the company for 14 years, surviving the traditional cull at state companies that accompanies a change of government, is the latest in veritable bloodbath since Law & Justice (PiS) took power in November.

The Lotos cheif is the thirteenth head of a major state-controlled company to have been shown the door in the last six months. He leaves one man standing. Zbigniew Jagiello, CEO at Poland’s largest bank PKO BP, survives for the meantime, despite plenty of speculation early in the year that he was set for the chop .

Cleansing of executive ranks in state-controlled companies is no novelty in Poland after each change of government but it has never been so thorough. A number of executives, like Olechnowicz, have remained at the helm of their respective companies regardless of election outcomes.

PiS, however, has been open about sweeping changes it wants to introduce after eight-year rule of predecessors from Civic Platform (PO), and has appointed MPs or others close to the party to head several of the countries large entities. Critics claim many of them are unquaified.

Since the state holds over 50% of Lotos, however, it will now have to announce a competition for Olechnowicz’s successor. Robert Pietryszyn, head of the company’s supervisory board, will act as interim CEO. Two deputy CEOs – Marek Sokolowski, responsible for strategy, and Zbigniew Paszkowicz, taking care of exploration and production matters – have also been let go.

The market clearly suspected Olechnowicz was on his way, and appears unfussed. Lotos shares hardly moved at midday trading on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, gaining 0.07% to PLN27.03 (€6.31) per share.

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