Poland Sees Lufthansa Interest In LOT

January 24, 2008

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Lufthansa is interested in buying a majority stake in Poland's national carrier LOT, a deputy treasury minister was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Poland's new government is determined to relaunch the stalled privatization of state companies, including LOT. Most of the larger sell-offs are planned through the Warsaw bourse.

But recent turmoil on financial markets has raised doubts whether the bourse-centered privatization plans would remain intact.

"Lufthansa is interested in a stake in LOT under the condition that, one, the transaction is fully approved by the Treasury, and two, the Treasury sells a majority stake," Polish Deputy Treasury Minister Zdzislaw Gawlik was quoted as saying in daily Dziennik.

The ministry has said it would like to sell its entire 68 percent stake in the carrier.

LOT flirted with a bourse listing in recent years, but the collapse of its strategic investor Swissair and the changing plans of successive governments had kept the planned initial public offering grounded.

In the meantime, more nimble no-frills carriers grabbed a large chuck of the growing market after Poland joined the European Union four years ago.

The administrator of bankrupt Swissair holds a 25 percent stake, with LOT employees holding 7 percent.