Poland may sell $160 million stake in Ciech this year: sources
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland may put up for sale its 500 million-zloty ($160 million) stake in chemicals group Ciech CIEP.WA before the end of this year to help fund state-owned investment vehicle PIR's infrastructure investments, market sources said on Thursday.
Poland set up Polskie Inwestycje Rozwojowe SA earlier this year to stimulate economic recovery and growth by investing in large infrastructure projects and is to be financed with 11 billion zlotys worth of state holdings in four listed companies.
The government has already approved the transfer to PIR of its 38 percent stake in Ciech as well as holdings in utility PGE PGE.WA, the bank PKO BP PKO.WA, and the insurer PZU PZU.WA.
"There is no strategic investor seen for Ciech so the treasury decided to sell Ciech in an accelerated book building by the end of this year," a market source said.
Analysts, bankers and fund managers have said they expect the state treasury to sell the Ciech stake next, since it still hopes for a hefty dividend from PZU and sold a stake in PKO earlier this year.
"Ciech is the most probable from the group," a Warsaw-based fund manager said. "The company underwent restructuring, improved results, and its share price is relatively high."
Ciech's share price has risen by a quarter this year, bringing the value of the state's stake close to what PIR has committed to invest in an upstream project on the Baltic Sea run by the country's second-biggest oil refiner Lotos LTSP.WA.
Shares in Ciech were up 0.4 percent at 28.21 zlotys on Thursday, valuing the firm at nearly 1.49 billion zlotys ($480 million).
Poland has said it expects spending on infrastructure to total 500 billion zlotys up to 2020, with PIR meant to co-finance such strategic investments with help from state lender BGK.
The treasury, which controls PIR and oversees most of Poland's state assets, said the fund would resemble the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) EBRD.UL.
A boom in infrastructure spending, most of it on roads and sports facilities for the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, has tailed off and private consumption, the other pillar of Poland's buoyant economy, has fallen sharply.
(Additional reporting by Pawel Bernat; Writing by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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