Poland may forego power firms' dividends - report

WARSAW, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Poland will consider foregoing dividends from its stakes in power companies to help them invest in the country’s troubled coal mines, the treasury minister said in a newspaper interview.

Poland’s four biggest power firms are PGE, Tauron , Enea and Energa, and their dividends account for around 36 percent of the government’s total annual dividend income, which in 2015 stood at 4.5 billion zlotys ($1.1 billion).

“It would be worth considering whether not to resign for some time from dividends from this area, to let them invest for example in mining,” Dawid Jackiewicz told the weekly W sieci.

The conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which won a parliamentary election in October, has taken over the task of rescuing KW, the European Union’s biggest coal producer. KW has been driven to the verge of bankruptcy by low coal prices and rising labour costs.

Poland’s energy minister told Reuters in an interview that he wanted PGE to invest in KW.

Such an investment could prove difficult for Poland’s power companies, whose market value plummeted last year on fears the government would force them to help out loss-making mines.

Last year, shares in PGE and smaller rival Energa fell by 32 percent and 45 percent respectively.

The promise of healthy dividend helped the treasury ministry attract investors to Energa’s initial public offering two years ago. Since then Energa has spent almost all of its profits on dividends.

$1 = 4.1107 zlotys Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Mark Potter