Qatar mulls Poland shipyard buy
Warsaw, August 19, 2009
Poland said Qatar was considering to buy the country's two troubled shipyards after an investor linked to Qatari investment bank QInvest failed to complete the politically sensitive acquisition.
Poland's Treasury Ministry had announced earlier on Tuesday that an entity it said was backed by QInvest had not met the extended, August 17 deadline to pay 380 million zlotys ($129 million) for the loss-making yards.
Under pressure from Brussels to sell the storied shipyards or to take back a few billion euros in Polish state aid that the European Commission has said was illegal, Poland's centre-right government agreed to sell the Szczecin and Gdynia yards to avert bankruptcy and thousands of job losses.
"I have made a decision to allow the Qatar Investment Authority the time to come up with a solution and take part instead of the previous investor," Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad told a news conference.
Grad said the Qatar sovereign fund -- which last week bought a 10 percent voting stake in Porsche SE and most of its options for a stake in Volkswagen -- had until the end of August to take on the investment.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned he would sack Grad, who is his privatisation chief, if the sale is not completed by August 31, also the deadline set by the European Commission.
Poland's shipyards are the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union, which helped bring down the communist regime two decades ago, but they have struggled to remain viable due to bloated employment and more nimble competitors abroad. - Reuters