September 7, 2016 / 11:26 AM / 2 years ago

Poland may block sale of local EDF, Engie assets under new law

KRYNICA-ZDROJ, Poland, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Poland has put local heating assets owned by French EDF and Engie on a list of companies deemed important for energy security, in order to be able to block their potential sale, the energy minister said.

Apart from the French assets, the government’s list includes state-run copper producer KGHM, chemicals group Azoty , power firm Tauron, telecom firm TK Telekom, and also private Fortum and PKP Energetyka.

“If EDF decides to exit Poland, then by putting EDF on such a list we are gaining the right to veto a potential buyer,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski told reporters on the sidelines of the Economic Forum in Krynica, south of Poland.

He declined to say whether he had talked to EDF or Engie about the deals and whether the ministry will use the right to block them, but said that if a prospective buyer was an investment fund, which focuses mostly on rapid growth, the ministry would “have to take a look”.

EDF launched the sale of its Polish assets earlier this year as part of a strategy to focus on low-carbon nuclear and renewable energy.

Local newspapers said Australian fund management firm IFM and its unit Veolia Energia Polska have submitted the highest offer.

In Poland, EDF’s plants hold a 15 percent share of the heating market. Its 1.7 gigawatt (GW) coal-fired power station in Rybnik, in the south, generates about 7 percent of electricity consumed in Poland.

Separately, Engie said it wants to sell its Polaniec coal-fired power plant, which constitutes of around 5.5 percent of installed power capacity in Poland. Poland’s Enea said it would be interested in the asset.

Poland accelerated its efforts to increase its control over important companies after Russia’s Acron increased its stake in Azoty to 20 percent in 2014. (Reporting by Wojciech Zurawski; Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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