Polish privatization plan hit by postponement of PHN IPO

By bne IntelliNews June 25, 2012

Tim Gosling in Prague -

Warsaw insists that it will maintain ambitious targets for revenue from privatization in 2012-13 despite the deepening crisis, but things are not going well. The latest hiccup is the cancellation of the planned IPO of real estate holding PHN on June 22.

The Treasury Ministry's announcement that it to put the float on hold due to "unfavorable market conditions" is worryingly reminiscent of a series of cancelled asset sales in the second half of 2011. Low investor interest saw planned sales of stakes in the country's biggest bank PKO and oil refiner Lotos - to name but two - shelved, although it still managed to raise PLN13bn across the year.

However, 2012 has started badly, with Turkish Airlines pulling out of a deal for Lot Airlines earlier this month. The fact that PHN was one of the few company's to have a definite IPO plan announced is another factor for concern, and casts doubts over the PLN15bn (€3.5bn) that the government said it hopes to raise in 2012-13. At the same time, real estate is clearly not the most attractive sector currently, whilst reports suggest the market is wary of PHN, which was rapidly assembled to gather numerous state properties under one - complex- roof. The ministry insists that the IPO is still possible in the second half of the year, reports Reuters.

Clearly though, with investors fretting that the Eurozone could explode any second, Poland faces some challenge to whip up significant interest right now. The Treasury has seen a couple of offers for chemical companies in recent weeks - although Acron's bid for Azoty Tarnow has been rejected for being below its market cap, and Synthos' offer for Pulawy is around par.

With the PHN deal now also delayed, the evidence is mounting that unloading the large coal miners and utilities that Warsaw has said it will sell - many on the WSE - looks unlikely for now. According to the newswire, some bankers think the ministry may cancel the bid to sell PHN altogether, in order to allow it to concentrate on accelerating the relatively easier sales of stakes in financial groups PKO and PZU, for instance.

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