SLS fights on

Alan Heath
opublikowano: 24-08-2001, 00:00

SLS fights on

The never ending saga of woe on the fate of 16 south western sugar refineries has taken another turn. The state inspired holding Polski Cukier will not be getting its hands on those refineries and a chance that they may be saved has been given. At the request of Saint Louis Sucre the shares in the Silesian sugar concern SSC have been frozen’ and not handed over to Polski Cukier giving the French company a breathing space in which to come to an agreement with the interior ministry.

Readers with long memories will recall that SLS bought the refineries almost one year ago but the sale was blocked for reasons of red tape. Then Polski Cukier entered the fray, a nationalist backlash of right wing MPs to form a virtual monopoly that would not have to conform to normal market conditions.

Now the highest administrative court will have to make a decision which effectively will decide if the foreign investor has the right to buy the real estate belonging to the SSC without getting a permit from the interior ministry. At least until then Polski Cukier will not get these shares.

SSC currently has debts of PLN450m and its refineries are in a deplorable state. MPs backing Polski Cukier expect this debt to be written off as they have no other suggestions how to save these companies. Adam Sebzda, MD of the Silesian holding says that SSC badly needs an investor.

Today the treasury will organise a meeting of the shareholders of four state owned sugar producing companies and those where a minority stake is in public hands in order to transfer these shares to Polski Cukier.

Within the next three week the treasury will choose a managing director for Polski Cukier which will start trading by the end of next month.

The sugar bill will become law at midnight on Friday. It will decide the fate of those refineries which control more than forty percent of the domestic sugar industry. At the very last minute the interior ministry agreed to the sale of five refineries in the Kalisz-Konin group to the German Pfeifer und Langen. Earlier this year workers at this refinery went on strike to force the government to hurry up the sale to the German investor. This means that Polski Cukier will receive 28 refineries. At least two of these refineries are disputed. Nordzucker has had the shares in the refineries at Malbork and Nowy Staw frozen by a court until their future is decided. It the treasury does not conclude this privatisation that was started a very long time ago then Nordzucker says that it will resort to legal action.

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