Eyeing the continued improvement on the markets, Warsaw is ready to unleash a privatization drive that will seek to sell stakes in 300 companies in 2012-2013. The Treasury is reported to be hoping to offload as many as 85% of the stakes it holds, mostly on the public markets, but will maintain operational control over at least 49 "strategic" enterprises.
With market sentiment in Europe bobbing atop the liquidity released by the European Central Bank, the Polish government is licking its lips, hoping to get away a host of privatisations held up by the crisis as well as releasing hundreds of new stakes. Treasury Ministry spokeswoman Magdalena Kobos said that the country owns around PLN100bn (€24bn) worth of companies across various sectors, according to Dow Jones.
The privatization drive is a central plank in Warsaw's ambition to squeeze the budget deficit to below 3% and reduce the level of state debt. The 2012 fiscal plan aims to raise PLN10bn (€2.4bn) through the sale of state assets. That figure looked extremely hopeful when it was set late in 2011 after a number of privatizations were hit by the fears emerging from the debt crisis and were cancelled last year, although Warsaw still managed to raise PLN13.1bn in 2011, according to Dow Jones.
Now, however, Poland will hope to push through the sales. According to the plan, the Treasury Ministry intends to sell a significant number of its stakes in Warsaw Stock Exchange-listed giants, including coal miner JSW, top utility PGE, the country's biggest bank PKO, and insurer PZU.
However, final decisions will be made based on specific market conditions, and no firm dates have been set. Overall, the Treasury wants to sell its holdings in 85% of the 300 companies in which it has ownership, Parkiet reports.
Several IPOs are also planned, according to the plan. For example, 2013 could see a public offering of Bumar, a Polish consortium that produces military equipment. Mining is a major sector likely to see a sell off, with several companies candidates for a float on the WSE in the near future, including Katowicki Holding Weglowy, Kompania Weglowa and Weglokoks. Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski said in December that utility ZE PAK and newly assembled and real estate holding PHN are likely to appear on the Warsaw bourse.
Meanwhile Warsaw said on March 27 that it also plans to float utilities Energa and Enea. It has been fighting a year-long battle with the country's competition watchdog to merge Energa with PGE, with a union with Enea a supposed back up plan. However, if the market allows the government to get a reasonable proportion of these sales away, it will reduce the likelihood of more "pseudo privatisations" - a particular Polish speciality by which state assets are sold off to state-controlled companies.
Both Energa and Enea were left off the list of 49 companies designated as strategic, suggesting they could be sold in their entirety. However, fellow utilities PGE and Tauron joined other energy companies such as PKN Orlen and PGNiG on the list, with their role in Poland's bid to increase energy independence having been clearly stated.