Polish Business Survey

Alan Heath
02-11-2000, 00:00

Polish Business Survey

Ruch needs a quick change

Management of press distributors Ruch are hoping for a quick result to the present dispute between the treasury and French Hachette. The largest domestic press distributor cannot wait much longer for a strategic partner as it is not in condition to meet heavy investment costs.

Furniture gives up Warsaw stock

Kraków furniture producer Celt has given up hope of entering the stock market following a second failed attempt at raising share capital value at a shareholders meeting.

Holderbank buys Wejherowo

In the next two weeks the decision to accept the Swiss Holderbank as the strategic investor in the Wejherowo cement works is expected.

Holderbank is expected to gain control of the firm with a 51 percent share this year for which it paid PLN9m. The remaining share will stay in the hands of the provincial government.

The Swiss said that they will maintain the current 160 jobs for the next two and a half years. Any future lay offs will include two years salary per person. Piotr Motk of the local trade union said that Holderbank had offered them a good deal.

Bus sales likely to be better

Jerzy Chudzicki, head of the local transport chamber of commerce said that next year more buses will be sold. In his opinion the main benefactors will be Volvo, MAN and Neoplan. Sales of Jelcz are forecast to drop.

The years 1996 — 1998 were good for bus sales with around 800 yearly entering service. Last year only 450 buses were sold, the market is considered to be around 700 vehicles annually. Warsaw is likely to be next year s biggest market with an order of around 200 buses expected.

Motorway credit guaranteed

The Transport Ministry has accepted to give a credit guarantee to Autostrada Wielkopolska to enable it to get a EUR275m loan from the EBRD in order to complete a stretch of motorway between Nowy Tomyśl, south west of Poznań, and Konin.

Finance minister Jaroslaw Bauc thinks that the loan will finally be worth EUR800m including interest. He considers the risk to be small for the public purse.

The section between Nowy Tomyśl and Konin is around 150km. Janusz Lewandowicz, MD of AW says that private cars will have to pay around PLN30 which is similar to the present charges raised by Stalexport on the Kraków — Katowice motorway. It will not, however, be necessary to pay until 2004 when the next stage of the road is expected which will link the motorway with the German border at Frankfurt Oder.

Budget worries economists

Where next year s budget is to find money is still a great unknown. The proposal to increase VAT in the construction industry may not get the approval of parliament. The government is hoping to push through a rise from seven percent to twelve percent which would give the treasury up to PLN1.5bn extra.

Many MPs and economists think that the government will opt to enlarge the deficit from 1.6 percent of GDP. Other sources of revenue include privatisation proceeds and UMTS tender fees as well as aid from programs like ISPA and SAPARD which will contribute a further PLN2bn.

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Podpis: Alan Heath

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