WARSAW Jan 21 Polish state-owned airline LOT
wants to bring a new strategic investor into the
company through a capital increase this year as its losses
gradually decline, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
LOT, in which the Polish state has a stake of nearly 68
percent, has spent years looking for a new investor but weak
profitability and tight competition have hampered its efforts.
"We, the board of LOT, are not selling our own shares. We
are formally looking for candidates who would buy new LOT shares
from a capital increase," CEO Sebastian Mikosz said.
He said LOT was focusing on strategic investors but would
also welcome, for example, private equity funds. He declined to
say if any talks with potential investors were under way.
Polish media have said the company that operates Warsaw
airport, eastern Europe's largest, could be merged with LOT as
part of the privatisation, something Mikosz denied.
"There are no plans and there has never been a plan to merge
us with the airport," Mikosz said.
LOT said last year it expected a 2013 operating loss of
around 20 million zlotys ($6.5 million) - still its best result
in six years and around 122 million less than it had anticipated
thanks to restructuring efforts.
"This result might be slightly better," Mikosz said.
"Returning to sustainable profitability remains the absolute
priority (in 2014)."
The European Commission is investigating whether Poland
broke competition rules when it gave LOT about 400 million
zlotys in a first tranche of state aid.
"We do not expect to ask for the second tranche of aid in
the first half of 2014," Mikosz said.