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Poland aims to sell 51% of newspaper distributor Ruch this year

The Polish government wants to sell a controlling stake in Ruch SA, the distributor of almost half the country's newspapers, by the end of this year.

The government, which holds 72.5%, may auction a majority stake in the company, aiming for the highest possible price. It plans to bar media distributors and publishers with a „significant” position on the domestic market from bidding and may sell the remaining shares on the Warsaw bourse later. „We want to sell 51% of Ruch, the controlling stake, still this year,” Deputy Treasury Minister Ireneusz Dabrowski said in an interview. Poland already received several offers for the company, he added. Ruch, which sold a 27.5% stake on the bourse for 249 million zloty ($84 million) last year, plans to open more kiosks, upgrade software and build new warehouses as part of a two-year expansion plan. Poland's government is postponing the planned debuts of other state-run companies. Dabrowski, who had expected as many as 20 initial public offerings this year, now is certain of only a few, including Gamrat SA, a producer of gutters and siding.

The sale of a 30% stake in national airline Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT SA, initially planned for this year, may be pushed back because of a conflict over the management of the company, Dabrowski said yesterday. The sale of a 20% stake in low-cost carrier Centralwings, currently owned by LOT, may also be postponed, Dabrowski said. A minority stake in Bumar Sp z o.o., a weapons and machinery manufacturer, will be sold in 2008 at earliest, Dabrowski said. KGHM Polska Miedz SA, the Polish company which mines more copper in Europe than any competitor, should sell shares of its telecommunications unit, Dialog SA, on the bourse this year, Dabrowski added. State-controlled KGHM has alternated in past months between planning to retain the unit and to sell it. The copper miner said in September it would keep the unit, in the hope that the value will rise over „the next few years.” The Puls Biznesu newspaper last month cited Piotr Siemion, head of KGHM's telecommunications department, as saying Dialog SA could hold an IPO this year. (Bloomberg)