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QInvest's Poland shipyards deal in doubt

Warsaw, August 18, 2009

Poland said on Tuesday it had failed to receive payment for two loss-making shipyards by a midnight Monday deadline, potentially scuppering their sale.

In July, Poland agreed to sell the Szczecin and Gdynia shipyards to an investor backed by Qatar's QInvest, to help end a long-running dispute with Brussels over state aid granted to the shipyards.

The investor later asked for a delay in payment of some 380 million zlotys ($129 million) until August 17.

However, the Treasury Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that "the amount offered by private investor Stichting Particulier Fonds Greenrights... did not arrive by midnight, Aug 17."    

Details about the relationship between QInvest and Stichting Particulier Fonds Greenrights were not immediately available.

The ministry said it would provide further information later on Tuesday. It was not available for further comment.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned last month he would fire Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad if he failed to sell the shipyards by the end of August.

A spokesman for the office of the Prime Minister was also not available on Tuesday.

A QInvest spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had "nothing further to add to its previous press release" and would not comment on client transactions.

QInvest's shareholders include Qatar Islamic Bank and Gulf Finance House.

The shipyards, considered the cradle of the Solidarity trade union that helped topple the communist regime two decades ago, are under bankruptcy protection and may need to be liquidated, costing thousands of jobs.

Both have been hit by the global economic downturn and a collapse in demand for new vessels.

Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquified natural gas, is looking to diversify its hydrocarbons-fuelled economy partly by acquiring assets overseas.

Qatar Holding, a unit of the country's sovereign wealth fund, on August 14 bought a 10 percent voting stake in Porsche SE  as well as most of its cash-settled options for a stake in Volkswagen. -Reuters




Tags: Shipyard | Poland | QInvest |

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