INTERVIEW-Ruch focuses on organic growth after missing Zabka

Wed Jun 13, 2007 11:20am EDT

By Pawel Bernat

WARSAW, June 13 (Reuters) - Poland's top press distributor Ruch RUCH.WA is not in any talks to buy local retail chains and will concentrate on organic growth after losing a race to buy Zabka stores, Ruch's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Ruch, whose name was once synonymous with the sale of periodicals in Poland, was among the bidders for the Zabka chain of 1,800 small stores to expand its distribution network.

Privately held Zabka ended up in the hands of Czech-Slovak Penta, which agreed to pay about $175 million.

Some investors have wondered what the state-controlled Ruch would do with the 250 million zlotys ($86.63 million) it raised in last year's public offering, especially after missing out on Zabka.

"When it comes to other retail chains, we are scanning the environment, but we are not in any discussions about an acquisition," Ruch Chief Executive Adam Pawlowicz said in an interview.

"Zabka was in some way a special opportunity that appeared. We were invited to the tender."

In the next three years Ruch wants to modernise 3,000 of its outlets and open 400 others, Pawlowicz said.

Ruch shares gained nearly a third after the company announced it was in talks to buy a retail chain which it later confirmed was Zabka. The stock has fallen 14 percent since reaching an all-time high of 39 zlotys at the end of May.

Pawlowicz said Ruch also wants to take advantage of the construction boom in Poland, hoping to use some of its real estate property to build new apartment buildings.

Earlier this month the state treasury, which owns more than 60 percent of Ruch, blocked the company's plan to set up a real estate development joint venture.

Pawlowski said he hopes to push the joint venture through at the next shareholders meeting scheduled for June 27.

((Writing by Chris Borowski, editing by Rory Channing; chris.borowski@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: chris.borowski.reuters.com@reuters.net; +48 22 653 9712))

($1=2.886 Zloty) Keywords: RUCH/

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