Poland rules out selling stake in insurer PZU in 2012

By bne IntelliNews November 29, 2012

bne -

Despite probably falling short of its revenue target from privatisation in 2012, Poland is not currently considering selling a stake in top insurer PZU, Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski said on November 28.

Warsaw is lagging its PLN10bn (€2.6bn) privatization target for this year by around PLN1bn and has postponed the IPO of real estate holding PHN due to a lack of investor interest, but Budzanowski told broadcaster TVN CNBC that PZU will not be part of an attempt to push the programme over the line this year. "We have around 13 months to do it, this is not a topic for today," he said.

The sale of a stake in PZU was announced to be part of the government's privatisation plan for 2012-13, with Poland earlier suggesting it could reduce its 35% holding by 10%. Meanwhile, although Budzanowski expressed confidence in reaching the PLN10bn revenue goal when total sales reached PLN8bn in September, things have not gone well since.

The treasury had hoped to sell a stake in coal giant JSW, but that was scuppered by the economy ministry, which has the final say on the mining sector. Meanwhile, an IPO of utility Ze Pak last month fell around PLN120m short of the PLN800m it had hoped to reap.

In fact, with confidence on the markets less than robust, Poland has struggled for the past two years to meet its privatisation targets, with a host of offers pulled due to low interest. It's notable that of the PLN8bn raised in 2012 thus far, a full PLN5.5bn has come from two snap stake sales, by the country's top bank PKO, and top utility PGE.

With PZU now also apparently out of the running, that leaves another accelerated book build for a stake in PKO looking like the only option if Budzanowski is to meet his target. On the other hand, the recent announcement that the state will use its stakes in the country's biggest companies as the basis for a new infrastructure fund may now have altered the privatization strategy.

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