Poland speeds up privatization

Poland is attempting to speed up the privatization of its energy sector in a number of separate moves.

According to deputy Treasury Minister, Jan Bucwkowski, the country is in the process of selecting one of three consortia shortlisted to set up an electricity trading exchange.

The leaders of the three groups were the Warsaw Stock Exchange, the conglomerate Elektrim and a local consulting firm Doradztwo Gospodarcze, which helped the ministry prepare its strategy for the privatization of the energy sector. Other firms involved in the consortia include the Polish Capital Fund, the Polish Power Grid (PSE), Swedish utility Vattenfall and BRE Bank.

The exchange should be up and running by May or June next year. Bucwkowski said: “If the exchange gets ten per cent of the turnover of the electricity market by the end of 2000 and 30 per cent by the end of 2001, it will be a success.”

To make the exchange work, the government has to solve the problem of long term power purchase agreements which cover 70 per cent of the market.

In August the Polish Treasury announced a shortlist of bidders as part of the privatization of Elektrownia Polaniec power plant. The shortlist was said to comprise AES, Eastern Power and Energy Trading Poland and Tractebel.

The country also announced plans to complete the sale of all of its district heating plants by 2002. Under the plan investors are to be offered majority stakes in district heating and power plants, which will either be sold to strategic investors or floated on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Stakes in the country`s big power stations will be no larger than 35 per cent. This will allow the government to retain control. There is no timetable for the sell off of the large generators.