Sikorsky Black Hawk choppers to be made in Poland

The PZL Aviation Company in Mielec is to become the production and assembly center for the American Black Hawk helicopter.
An agreement on this has just been signed by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Poland's Industrial Development Agency, the owner of PZL.

The PZL plant in Mielec is one of the most experienced aviation works in Poland. However, ruthless mechanisms of economic transformations and lack of profitable contracts have undermined its financial standings. Now, the ailing company could receive Sikorsky investments to the tune of several hundred million dollars, the exact sum not being publicly quoted, yet. The Black Hawk is probably the world's best-known military chopper. In Poland, Sikorsky would be producing the International version of the Black Hawk. Chairman Jeffrey Pino, who was present during the signing ceremony, said his corporation had been scanning production prospects in many countries for a long time, before it decided on the Mielec plant. The Polish producer was chosen because of two vital reasons, he emphasized.

'First, the absolute quality and dedication of the workforce in Mielec. And second, an environment created by the (Polish) government to allow this kind of strategic investment to be successful.'

Edward Nowak, Board Member of the Industrial Development Agency said, on his part that the negotiations had been complicated, but crowned with success. He pointed that finalizing the contract would be tantamount to creating an additional one thousand jobs in PZL Mielec and simultaneously introducing some of the worlds most modern aviation technology to Poland.

' Thanks to this technology there will be a place in Mielec for highly qualified engineers and IT specialists. We're building a new center based on intellectual potential and know how.'

Plans outlined in the deal speak of Poland's Mielec becoming a European production center of several hundred International Black Hawk machines annually and also a servicing center for the Sikorsky airfleet in Germany, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Italy.

But there is more to the Sikorsky-PZL deal than just immediate gains. The American manufacturer is eyeing the tender to be announced by the MOD for some 150 helicopters for the Polish army. Together with other orders from, for instance, the Health Ministry for rescue type units, the total order is speculated at around 4 billion dollars worth. Sikorsky's presence in Poland would certainly give it an edge over other foreign competitors, says Wojciech Luczak from the RAPORT military magazine.

'Of course, this is something like a bridgehead for Sikorsky to operate in Central Europe, not only in Poland for the tender of the International Black Hawk. This is a downgraded, low cost version of the helicopter which is offered for the US army right now.'

It is expected the first components for assembly of the International Black Hawk are to arrive in PZL Mielec in 2008, while full production capabilities will be attained two years later.

And to dispel any allegations ...... there is absolutely NO business connection nor family ties between the Sikorsky Corporation and Poland's Minister of Defense Radoslaw...... Sikorski!
Source:By Sławek Szefs polskieradio.pl,

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Poor potato harvest in Poland will lead to dramatic price increase for this commodity

Potato harvesting peak is observed now in Poland. This crop has severely suffered from the record draught this summer. As a consequence of the insufficient moisture content in soil, to the experts' opinion, potato harvest will rapidly decrease, despite of 20% extension of potato cultivation areas.

According to evaluations of Polish specialists, potato harvest will hardly reach 10 mln. tons. Nearly one million tons of potato more was grown in Poland past year. If such pessimistic forecast comes true, it will mean that an average potato yield (around 14 tons/ha) is the lowest comparing to the previous years. We should also point out that potato production in Poland will constitute only 72% of the harvest got in 2004 (the decrease is nearly 4 mln. tons during two years).

To the opinion of Andrey Yarmak, the Deputy Director of the Agricultural Marketing Project, such a dramatic decrease of potato production in Poland during two previous years may cause potato deficit in Poland. This country is one of large suppliers of the mentioned commodity in the region. Besides, it will be quite problematic to purchase large shipments of quality potato for fresh market and for processing enterprises. And, this situation will definitely affect Ukrainian market.

The expert says most production regions of Ukraine, unlike Poland, have not suffered from draught. Ukrainian producers of these regions expect potato yield to increase. At the same time, potato production will be significantly reduced in some oblasts of Ukraine. At the present moment the experts of the Agricultural Marketing Project are finishing the updated forecast of potato price and production forecast, as well as the forecast for other vegetables, fruits and berries. This material will be published in one of next issues of "Agrooglyad: Vegetables and Fruits" journal. And, the final forecast will come public during the third international conference-exhibition "Fruits and Vegetables of Ukraine 2006. Open market" to be held December 5th-6th 2006 in Kyiv on the territory of the National Center "Expocenter of Ukraine".


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3M to build three factories in Poland

US diversified technology company 3M announced Wednesday that it is to invest $50 million (€42 million) to build three factories in Wroclaw, in southwestern Poland.

One of the plants will produce optical films for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, another adhesive material, and the third orthodontic products.

"The optical film factory, which will produce films which improve the image on electronic screens, is directly linked to the investment projects in Poland of LG-Philips and Sharp," Ilona Gajewska, spokeswoman for 3M Poland, said.

LG-Philips is building an LCD-screen factory in Wroclaw, and Sharp has announced similar plans.

Production of optical films at the 3M factory is expected to begin in March or April next year. The optical film factory, which represents 60 percent or $30 million of 3M's $50 million investment, will initially provide jobs for around 100 people.

The two other factories are expected to come online in 2008.

3M already produces adhesive first aid dressings and bandages in Poland. The company's turnover in Poland last year was $130 million.

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Hopes growing in Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012 bid

The Italian soccer corruption scandal and turmoil in Hungary have boosted the chances of a joint bid by Ukraine and Poland to host the 2012 European soccer championships, Ukraine's top soccer official said.

Hrihory Surkis, president of Ukraine's soccer federation, said circumstances were playing into the hands of the two eastern European neighbours after UEFA inspectors toured both countries.

"On the whole, our chances are rather good. The corruption scandal in Italian soccer has done that country's chances no good," Surkis told a news conference on Wednesday.

"As for Hungary, recent political political events also work in our favour. If the Hungarian prime minister is accused of lying, how can UEFA trust a government of that sort?"

Budapest has been gripped by demonstrations, with protestors demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany after he acknowledged lying to help win an election in April.

A UEFA inspector was quoted as saying in a Kiev daily this week that the Ukraine-Poland bid had "many positive elements".

Italy is also in the running as is a joint proposal from Hungary and Croatia. Poland is embroiled in its own corruption scandal, with the government probing match-fixing allegations.

UEFA's executive committtee will announce which candidate will host the event on December 8.

Surkis told reporters both countries were coordinating plans for construction and transport.

New stadiums were being built in Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk -- two proposed sites for games.

And a row over Kiev's main stadium, linked to construction nearby of a shopping and leisure centre, would be resolved by building a new stadium if the Ukraine-Poland bid won.

"The deputy mayor said that if we won they would be prepared to start construction of a new stadium on the site of the city's hippodrome," Surkis siad. "In any case, if we get this historic chance, Kiev will not be without a stadium."

FIFA says it could withdraw permission to hold matches at the Olympic stadium if it is ruled that the construction site violates safety norms.


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Poland, FBI forge closer ties to fight organised crime

Poland's Justice Minister and visiting US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief Robert S. Mueller Wednesday discussed extraditing from the US to Poland a chief suspect in the 1998 assassination of Poland's ex-national chief of police.

Polish-American businessman Edward Mazur is suspected of having ordered the contract killing of Polish police General Marek Papała who was gunned down in the parking lot outside his Warsaw home.

Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro refused to provide details, but was quoted as saying they had spoken about the issue 'at length' in talks in Warsaw.

Talks between the two officials also focused on beefing-up co- operation between Polish state prosecutors and the FBI, especially in the area of fighting organised crime.

Later Wednesday Mueller focused on fighting organised crime in talks with Poland's National Chief of Police Marek Bieńkowski.

Talks also centred on the creation of a joint working group bringing together the FBI and Poland's equivalent, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBS) to combat organised crime and terrorism as well as fraud, human trafficking, child pornography and cyber-crime.

'Our discussion will continue in Washington within a few days,' Police Chief Bieńkowski announced at the meeting. He expects a formal co-operation agreement would be signed between the FBI and Poland at that time.


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DJ INTERVIEW: ING Retail: Growth In Romania, Poland, India

Dutch financials group ING Group NV's (ING) retail banking will continues to expand its banking-branch network in Poland, Romania and India, but at the same time still sees growth opportunities in its home region, a board member told Dow Jones Newswires.
ING in recent years has steered clear of wide-scale acquisitions in fragmented or high-growth markets - unlike domestic rivals ABN Amro (ABN) in Italy and Fortis NV (30086.AE) in Turkey. Instead, it has focused on a small number of countries with significant growth potential.

"We didn't feel the need to make large acquisitions as we have enough opportunities for organic growth," said Eli Leenaars, board member for retail and private banking at ING.

"We could have played a prominent role (in more markets) if we wanted to," he added. "But they (some recently acquired banks) were simply not attractive to us."

Rather than overpaying for the acquisition of banks, ING chose to invest in expanding its bank franchise organically and exporting its Dutch banking know-how into those markets.

Leenaars said the retail arm has always primarily been interested in markets with "a convenience gap," where domestic banks cannot offer the same level of service as ING. For entering the more mature markets, such as the U.K. and France, the parent company's strategy is to rely on its cyberbank, ING Direct, which is headed by another board member, Dick Harryvan.

No. 3 Ranking In Poland

In Poland, the company has been active since 1995 after buying a stake in Bank Slaski, of which it now owns 75%. ING in Poland is the country's third-largest bank, with around 350 offices. That number is, after a period of stabilization, increasing again, Leenaars said without being more specific.

In Romania, ING started from scratch and now has a network of 90 outlets, or a 6.3% market share. They aren't full banking branches but rather a mix of the so-called "self banks" that exist in Belgium - where a client can almost do all retail transactions at an automated machine - and ING Direct, which mainly operates online.

ING Romania intends to grow its number of branches to 250 by 2009, a company spokesman has said.

"It's very tech-driven, hardly any human interaction," Leenaars said of the self banks. However, he added that every branch typically has two to three employees who primarily fulfill an advisory role.

The model is internally known as the "Romania-concept" and is already being exported to other countries, such as India, Leenaars said. "It's the leading concept for the future," he added.

Leenaars won't totally exclude entering new countries, but noted that with Romania and Poland, the bank and insurer already potentially reaches out to a large portion of the population in Eastern and Central Europe.

Moreover, it's easier to operate "without the complexity of 12 countries," Leenaars said.

Besides Poland and Romania, ING retail banking is also expanding in India through ING Vysya Bank, in which the Amsterdam-based conglomerate holds a 44% controlling stake.

Leenaars suggested he would rather have full control of the Indian bank, and also in Bank Slaski, but noted the Indian market is closed to full foreign ownership until 2009. Asked whether ING would pursue full ownership of Vysya, he said that "it could be a possibility."

Vysya has 450 branches and is mainly active in southern Indian, near Bangalore. ING opened 10 new branches this year.

In China, ING also owns a near-20% stake in Bank of Beijing and provides two board members. "We're not a controlling shareholder, but we work together to exchange knowledge and know-how. It's an enormous educational process."

Benelux Not Boring

In the Netherlands, ING operates through Postbank and ING Bank. The mortgages market is "irrationally competitive" and ING shed some market share in the past half year. "But we're not nervous at all," Leenaars said. "We're more interested in preserving the value we already created."

The Benelux is considered by many analysts as a low-growth market, but Leenaars wants to nuance that view: "In terms of volume, the Benelux is actually bigger than Spain and Italy. It is, in fact, one of the strongest growing markets in Western Europe."

Swiss financials group UBS recently hosted a conference on Dutch financials with the central theme: "Is Benelux boring?" According to Leenaars: "It's not boring. It's a very wealthy market with highly efficient banks. Mature, but not as low-growth as many think."

The 45-year-old banker was previously chairman of ING Poland and Latin America and also worked at Banque Bruxelles Lambert in Belgium. ING's chief executive, Michel Tilmant, was CEO of BBL until it was acquired by ING in 1998.

ING's retail bank in the second quarter of 2006 made a EUR452 million in underlying profit before tax, or 17% of the group's total.

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Thorium Power discusses nuclear possibilities for Poland

Nuclear technology development firm Thorium Power has been discussing possible nuclear energy joint efforts with the Polish government, including the use of nuclear technologies for power generation.

Thorium Power joined a delegation of developers and providers of nuclear fuels and nuclear power plants. The delegation, which included Westinghouse Electric Company and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company, had been invited to tour the Polish nuclear institute at Świerk and hold meetings with senior government officials.

The meetings focused on how cutting edge nuclear technologies can address several of Poland's critical needs, including power generation and the liquefaction and gasification of stony coal.

"Poland is well poised to become a center for new nuclear technologies," stated Thorium Power president and CEO Seth Grae. "Our discussions with senior officials of the government have convinced me that Poland has a well thought out vision of how to address its energy future."

Thorium Power and the other members of the delegation are now in follow-up discussions with the Polish government relating to possible joint venture partnerships.


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Wal-Mart could look to Poland for expansion

US retail giant Wal-Mart could be set to enter the Polish retail sector as part of a possible expansion into Eastern Europe, according to reports in the Polish media.

Polish broadsheet Rzeczpospolita reports that Wal-Mart who has shown an interest in entering the country's growing retail market through greenfield investment, with French chain Auchan believed its most likely target.

Wal-Mart are already prevalent in Western European countries like the UK and Germany, through chains like Asda, and the news could mark the beginnings of their expansion into Eastern Europe.

While Wal-Mart declined to comment on the speculation, the news would follow similar moves by its rivals earlier in the year.

In July, Tesco invested more than €104m into acquiring the Leader Price chain in the country from French group Casino in a bid to increase its 5.5 per cent market share.

Tesco's acquisitions came just a few months after Carrefour, one of the world largest retailers, announced annual investments of around €65-€78m over five years to increase its presence in the country.

With 32 hypermarkets and 71 supermarkets in Poland already, Carrefour appears confident the market has further room to grow.

The presence of these stores is yet another indication of the strength of retail markets in Eastern Europe, though there are some worries that the market is becoming saturated.

Consultancy group PriceWaterhouseCoopers' (PWC) said recently that retailers could not afford to ignore emerging Eastern European markets – but it warned that only the most exploratory and adaptable food retailers would succeed.

With over 7,000 stores in economies as diverse as Asia, Europe and South America, Wal-Mart has shown it has already managed to adapt to specific regional tastes.


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Controversial finansial market regulator takes effect in Poland

A controversial new commission designed to supervise the rapidly growing Polish financial sector took effect Tuesday, despite the objections of the opposition and concerns of the European Commission, Polish media reported. The brain-child of Poland's governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, the new Commission for Financial Supervision (KNF) replaces several independent institutions which have regulated Poland's rapidly growing private banking, stock market and insurance sectors since the advent of capitalism in 1989.

In a move which has been condemned by international observers, the KNF replaces the Polish Securities and Exchange Commission (KPWiG) and the Insurance and Pensions Supervisory Commission (KNUiFE) with immediate effect Tuesday.

On January 1, 2008 it is also due to take over supervision of the independent Banking Supervisory Committee (KNB) headed by Poland's internationally respected central bank chief Leszek Balcerowicz.

Seven government-appointed officials will sit on the new KNF, including presidential and finance ministry representatives. The president of the National Bank of Poland (NBP) will also be a member.

Press speculation has focused on several PiS-allied politicians as candidates for KNF chairman. They include former PiS deputy finance minister Cezary Mech, Finance Ministry insider, economist Iwona Duda and Poland's current Finance Minister Stanislaw Kluza.

Critics of the new institution noted that it would be subject to political cronyism and lack the healthy independence of the organisations it replaced.

"It's all about giving their friends a job," MP Zbigniew Chlebowski of the opposition liberal Civic Platform told Poland's Dziennik daily.

Last week NBP chief Leszek Balcerowicz also roundly blasted the new KNF as undermining the unbiased and independent supervision of Poland's financial sector.

Poland's Lewiatan Confederation of Private Employers echoes Balcerowicz's concern.

"The head of the KNF will be appointed directly by the prime minister, there will be no competition, which until now has been a filter for incompetent candidates," Lewiatan's Krzysztof Kajda told Dziennik.

Objectors also note the centralisation of power over Poland's banking, capital market and insurance sectors could prove very damaging.

The governing PiS and other supporters, however, argue similar centralised organisations in Britain and the Netherlands are well- equipped to monitor the ever-more complex fusions of financial institutions in the era of globalization.
Source: rawstory.com,

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FX Energy Starts Poland Gas Well

Natural gas producer FX Energy Inc. on Tuesday said it has started commercial production from its Wilga gas well southeast of Warsaw, Poland.

FX Energy operates and owns 82 percent of the Wilga well and the 250,000-acre property on which Wilga is located. The Polish Oil and Gas Co. owns the remaining 18 percent.

The gas is being sold under contract to the Warsaw area, the company said.

FX Energy also said its Zaniemysl well in western Poland is slated to begin commercial production in the next few weeks. The company owns a 24.5 percent stake in the well.

FX Energy shares fell 20 cents, or 3.8 percent, to close at $5.10 on the Nasdaq.


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Briefing: Dell to build new factory with Poland investment

Dell, the world's largest computer maker, announced plans Monday to invest €200 million in Poland, including a new factory that would employ 1,000 people in the second half of 2007.
Together with resulting investment by Dell suppliers equal to $253 million, Polish officials have said the investment by Dell in a new factory could be worth up to 10,000 new jobs to Lodz, the country's second largest city after Warsaw.
Dell also announced plans to add about 600 people to the 1,500 employees it already has in Slovakia. The Slovak unit handles financial and analytical operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as marketing, sales, and support services for German speaking markets.

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Poland Could Lose EU Funds for Environment Breaches

Protecting areas of significant biodiversity is one of the obligations for new EU members. However, the Polish Government has failed to hold up its end of the deal and may face EU funding blocks for certain projects.

In April 2006, Natura 2000, a branch of the EU Directorate-General for the Environment, undertook legal action against Poland for failing to protect areas of significant biodiversity.

According to Nicholas Hanley, head of communications for the EU Directorate-General for the Environment, the infringement procedure was filed against Poland because it had been ''significantly inefficient'' in designating areas for biodiversity protection as stipulated by EU guidelines.

''It was made clear to those 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004, they were joining a community and they would have to abide by the rules of the community,'' he said.

Poland's failure to designate sufficient biodiversity areas could jeopardize some of the 59.7 billion euros ($75 billion) allocated to Warsaw for 2007 to 2013, if the funds are to be used for projects seen to be threatening areas of important biodiversity. There is also the possibility of a court case.

Biodiversity protection obligatory for EU members

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has doubts about site designation

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has doubts about site designation

The purpose of the Natura 2000 European ecological network program is working with EU member states to protect their most important wildlife areas and species.

The program falls under the Birds Directive and the Habitat Directive laws which require the designation of ''special protection areas'' for birds and ''special areas of conservation.''

Poland proposed creating 72 special protection areas, but the commission recommended the designation of 140.

But Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said site designation makes it ''practically impossible to build anything," according to news reports.

In a meeting with environmental groups Kaczynski said the number of habitats protected under the EU’s Natura 2000 conservation network should be cut because they hampered vital projects such as motorways.

Andreas Baumueller, European Biodiversity Policy Officer for the World Wildlife Fund, thinks the Polish government may have misunderstood the purpose of Natura 2000's site designation.

''There is a perception that once the site has been designated you lose control of these areas, which is simply not true,'' Baumueller said. ''If people understand their obligations, they will know that an area of biodiversity does not mean the land cannot be used at all.''

Conflicting information coming from Warsaw

Hanley claims the Polish Environment Ministry conducted an inventory to decide how much space should be set aside under the Natura 2000 program, which they initially proposed would be 13 percent of the country.

However, when Poland submitted their report to Brussels, the government designated only 3 percent of land for site protection.

''The insufficiency of their proposal was totally flagrant, there were gaping holes in it geographically, based on inventory they did themselves,'' Hanley said.

Slawomir Mazurek, a spokesman for the Polish Environment Ministry, told media sources there had been disagreements by local governments as to which areas were to be designated for protection.

Mazurek added: “Some areas have been appointed without a detailed knowledge of what is in them.”

Recent discussion with Poland about Natura 2000

Poland held discussion about Natura 2000 from Aug. 25 to 27 in Tuczno, Poland. One of the issues addressed was the size and number of protected sites for the 10 new EU member states.

Other new EU members have complied with Natura 2000 policy

Other new EU members have complied with Natura 2000 policy

According to Ladislav Miko, Director for the EU Environment Directorate who attended the conference, Poland was eager to discuss Natura 2000 sustainble development programs.

The WWF says Poland is home to rare species such as bison, wolves, bear, snakes and eagles living in river valleys, wetlands and primeval forests.

Baumueller explained the WWF was ''quite happy'' with the compliance of other EU member states, but Poland was one exception.

''The other 24 member states that have been involved and signed up to protect areas of significant biodiversity have done a good job,'' Baumueller said. ''If it is possible for 25 member states to do this, it is possible for Poland.''


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EC vs Microsoft: Stalemate Over Vista

The European Union's protectionist-minded regulators are back at it, this time telling Microsoft that it shouldn't bundle security upgrades with Vista. The European Commission this week suggested that consumers will be hurt if Microsoft forecloses the market to security-selling rivals by bundling.

Microsoft, in return, suggested that European users will be more at risk should the operating system's security features be removed. What exactly we're talking about here has yet to be articulated but it's been suggested it may include Windows Defender, the anti-spam filter, and BitLocker, the data encryption widgetry.

Symantec, which is already suing Microsoft on other grounds related to Symantec's Veritas acquisition, has at least threatened to complain to the EC about stuff like this.

Anyway, late last week Microsoft said that Vista's launch and deployment in Europe could be delayed if the EC didn't come right out and say what it objected to in Vista so it could ship a legal system and avoid any further antitrust trouble, pretty much the same thing it's told the SEC.

The EC replied this week that any delays wouldn't be its fault; it's up to Microsoft as a "near-monopolist" to comply with the EU's antitrust decision; it isn't up to the EC to give it a hall pass before the product comes to market, a reaction that left Microsoft complaining Thursday about the regulators' lack of clarity.

EC antitrust chief Neelie Kroes in a letter exchange with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in March expressed concern over Vista's integrated Internet search, its DRM and its Adobe PDF file viewer. The EC also gave Microsoft a list of concerns about Vista early in July. What's on that list of 79 questions hasn't been disclosed and may belie Microsoft's lack of clarity complaint. Anyway, Microsoft answered them late last month and is still waiting for a reply.

To put pressure on the EC - and to win popularity points - Microsoft Thursday trotted out an IDC study it had run up claiming that Vista will generate a $40 billion economy in Europe and create 100,000 new jobs in Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK next year. If Vista is delayed, job creation could be halved, IDC said.

For every euro Microsoft derives from Vista, the study says, local OEMs, retailers, integrators and ISVs will get 13 euros. According to IDC Vista will be installed on 100 million computers worldwide the first year after release, 30 million of them in the top European markets.

Separately Ovum has calculated that a delay could cost the European supply chain a billion dollars in deferred revenues.

The EC still has yet to decide whether Microsoft has met the 2004 antitrust requirement of making its communications protocols accessible to competitors. Microsoft's alleged failure to provide useable documentation recently cost it an additional fine of $357 million, a decision it is contesting. If the EC doesn't give the current documentation a passing grade, Microsoft could have to pay more, even bigger fines.

Vista is now at what Microsoft is calling a release candidate apropos of supposedly delivering the OS to business in November and the broader market in January. Reviewers report that RC1 is "far from final code" and that a lot of work remains to be done, enough, it seems, that Microsoft could use the EC as an excuse to delay Vista's general rollout yet again.


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GE Energy plans $1 bln power plant in Poland -paper

General Electric Co.'s energy unit plans to invest $1 billion in a new clean coal power plant in Poland, a Polish newspaper quoted GE Energy chief executive John Krenicki as saying on Saturday. "Due to the large reserves of coal and its rising energy needs, Poland is a natural place for this investment," the Rzeczpospolita daily quoted Krenicki as saying during a meeting in the United States with Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The company was not immediately available for comment. The paper reported the plant would have a generation capacity of around 900 MW, enough to provide for some 250,000 homes, and would be financed in part by European Union funds.

It said a site has yet to be selected for the plant, which would be constructed over the next five years.

General Electric's Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt said earlier this year he expected the company would receive about $5 billion in orders for clean coal power plants by 2010.

GE has said that integrated gasification combined cycle technology is on the verge of being commercially viable. IGCC coal plants turn coal into a cleaner-burning gas, thus reducing emissions.

Poland is still struggling to liberalise its power sector, most of whose capacity is tied up in long-term power agreements signed in the 1990s to make possible modernisation of outdated communist-era infrastructure.


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Poland’s richest tycoon sets his sights on Tamoil

POLAND’S richest man Jan Kulczyk has emerged as a bidder in the E3bn ($3.8bn, £2bn) auction of Libya’s European oil arm Tamoil.

US private equity giant Carlyle Group, Spanish oil group Repsol, and Italian oil refiner ERG, have so far been the only bidders reported to have put in final bids by the 31 July deadline.

But sources close to the three now say that Kulczyk is seen as a prime candidate to win the auction, which began in March.

Tamoil, which was bought by the Libyan government in the 1980s, offers the chance of a step change in scale for the winning bidder. It owns three oil refineries in Switzerland, Italy and Germany, and nearly 3,000 petrol stations acrosss Europe, including 10% of the Italian market.

Carlyle Group has been pushing hard to expand its refining business Petroplus, buying Exxon Mobil’s Ingolstadt refinery in July and the Belgian Refining Corporation in April. ERG is keen to bolster its position in Italy and Repsol is seeking to expand outside its core region of Spain. The four bidders are understood to now be engaged in intense negotiations over whether Tamoil’s owner, Libyan state investment vehicle Lafico, will take responsibility for any long-term environmental liabilities of the plant.

The poor state of repair of some of the company’s refineries represents a serious financial risk. If the Libyans refuse to give the guarantees bidders are seeking, they may cut their bids by more than E1bn. French bank BNP Paribas is managing the sale for Lafico.

Kulczyk’s involvement in the Eastern European oil industry has been peppered with intrigue. He played a central role in the “Orlen affair” which has rocked Poland’s business and political world over the last three years.

Polish investigators claim Kulczyk was the middle man appointed by leading members of the Polish government to negotiate the sale of Gdansk Refinery, and possibly also a major stake in PKN Orlen itself, to Russian oil giant Lukoil. Kulcyzk holds 4.99% of the shares of PKN Orlen.

His estimated fortune of $4bn makes him by far the richest man in Poland. His company Kulczyk Holding has made money by acting as an intermediary in Polish privatisations, buying shares of newly privatised companies and then selling stakes on to foreign bidders.

he Tamoil sale is just one in a long list of European refineries and petrol stations being put up for sale.

The Business has learned that US oil giant Exxon Mobil has put its Eastern European petrol station network up for sale in a deal expected to earn around $200m.

The company, which is managing the sale internally, has contacted interested buyers for the stations, which number around 35 in Hungary, 35 in the Czech Republic, 15 in Slovakia and five in Bulgaria.

BP is selling its Coryton refinery in the UK. Kuwait Petroleum is selling its refinery in Rotterdam.

Chevron is close to completing the sale of its share in the Nerefco refinery in the Netherlands. It is also selling petrol stations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, for which Italy’s Eni is seen as the most likely buyer.


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Poland takes keys to new F-16 jets

Poland has taken possession of the first of an eventual 48 U.S.-made F-16 jets equipped with a new reconnaissance package that offers real-time imagery.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski was in the United States this week to meet with Bush administration officials and to formally accept delivery of the aircraft under the U.S. Peace Sky foreign military sales program.

The jets, built by Lockheed Martin, are of the F-16C/D, Block 52 version, which carries upgraded electronics and a higher-performance F110-GE-129 engine.

The Fighting Falcons earmarked for Poland are also equipped with a digital, real-time reconnaissance system that gives the Polish air force a long-range surveillance and targeting capability that fits in with potential multi-national missions requiring steady airborne intelligence.

Poland currently has small contingents serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and this week committed additional boots-on-the-ground to the Afghan theatre.

The DB-110 system produced by Goodrich Corp. is currently used on Japan's OP-3C maritime surveillance plane and the Royal Air Force Tornado.

"Delivery of our system will be ... a step-up in the tactical ability of Poland's F-16 fleet," said Ken Luczaj, president of Goodrich's Optical and Space Systems Division. "The delivery of this innovative system to Poland will mark the first use of this technology aboard F-16s."
Source: United Press International, upi.com

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Poland's central bank chief Balcerowicz blasts banking probe

Poland's respected central bank chief Leszek Balcerowicz on Friday refused to stand before a parliamentary special committee set up to probe allegations of wrongdoing in Poland's banking sector. However, the architect of Poland's early 1990s liberal "shock therapy" programme which successfully introduced market reforms to the communist command economy, Balcerowicz said he was prepared to face the special committee if he were ordered to do so by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal.

The parliamentary committee on Friday moved to prosecute Balcerowicz for having refused to testify before it. He could face a fine or be required to appear for questioning.

The central bank chief said his refusal was rooted in his obligation as Poland's central banker to maintain the institution's full neutrality and prevent politicians from exerting pressure on it.

"The president of the National Bank of Poland cannot be called to stand before the committee under any pretext," Balcerowicz told Poland's TVN24 news channel.

"Nothing of this kind has ever happened in the civilised world," he said of the special committee spear-headed by Poland's ruling right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) -led coalition government.

Balcerowicz alleged the actions of the parliamentary committee against him were an act of "revenge" for Poland's Banking Supervisory Board position on the recent UniCredit take-over of Poland's BPH bank.

Balcerowicz heads the board, which had refused to succumb to government demands to block the take-over.

He also alleged the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS)-led coalition government had destroyed independent supervision of Poland's banking sector, crucial to its proper operation.

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Merkel Wants Good Relations with Poland -- and Gas Pipeline

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to boost German-Polish relations, despite continued plans to build a contested gas pipeline and recent diplomatic strain between the two countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel  is eager to better relations with Poland

Adding to Germany's intentions to improve strained relations with its bordering neighbor, Berlin will not be halting plans to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia.

''We are going to try our best,'' Merkel told a German radio station, NDR Info, on Thursday. She said she was confident of an improvement, despite what she called ''fluctuations in mood.''

The problems had to be discussed frankly, she added.

Merkel said Germany was committed to the North European Gas Pipeline, which Poland sees as a move to bypass it. She said other nations were not excluded from the project.

After talks in Helsinki last Sunday, she is to meet with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Oct. 30.

Weimar Triangle summit rescheduled

Meanwhile, the heads of state of France, Germany and Poland will meet in early December for a Weimar Triangle summit, a spokesman for the Polish president announced in Warsaw.

The December summit bringing together French President Jacques Chirac, Merkel and Polish President Lech Kaczynski will be held in place of the Weimar Triangle meeting cancelled in July due to that Kaczynski's illness.

Media in Poland has speculated whether Kaczynski had deliberately cancelled the Weimar engagement in reaction to a satirical article in a German newspaper lampooning both him and his identical twin brother, Prime Minister Kaczynski.

Relations between Poland and neighboring Germany have taken a turn for the worse in recent months.

A Berlin exhibition detailing the fate of Germans who fled or were expelled from Eastern Europe to Germany after the World War II defeat of Nazi Germany has drawn sharp criticism in Poland.

Poles are concerned the exhibition may be misused to distort history and diminish Nazi Germany's responsibility for the suffering of civilians during WWII.


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Polish Ambassador Michalski: “Poland’s EU Process is an Important Model for Turkey”

Diplomatic visits organized by the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO) is going on to take place. A committee headed by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sedat Laciner visited the Ambassador of Republic of Poland to Ankara, Grzegorz Michalski, in his Office on 15 September 2006. ISRO Vice-Chairman and Chairman of Center for European Union Studies Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ozcan, ISRO Vice-Chairman and Chairman of Center for International Security, Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict Studies Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ihsan Bal and the researcher of European Union Studies Center Fatma Yilmaz also participated in the visit.

Possible organizational cooperation between Republic of Poland and the ISRO to take place in the future is the main subject discussed during the visit. The Ambassador Michalski said that he is the follower of the ISRO activities and the ISRO is a closely followed organization in the international platform through its contribution to Turkey’s EU process with its new and different vision.

Emphasizing the importance of the Polish experience acquired during its EU negotiation process for Turkey, the Ambassador pointed out that Poland had also difficulties in this process but it was not demoralized; instead, it managed to overcome the process thanks to their experts, negotiators and, more importantly, thanks to their patience. Moreover, he added that similar difficulties are on the case for Turkey in the negotiation process.

The Ambassador said that Turkey-Poland relations should not be assessed only within the perspective of the EU, these cooperationist countries have a long history and their common interests overlap in a broad range of area. He made emphasis on the European energy security as an example.

ISRO Chairman Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sedat Laciner said that Poland is a major example to be utilized and this is why Turkey should take into consideration the Polish experience in the EU process. He also stated that making researches on this subject, ISRO, as an organization, follows the Polish experience carefully and it was possible to increase the efficiency of the current cooperation potential.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ozcan, Chairman of the ISRO Center for the European Union Studies, stated that there are only few EU member states which have similar socio-economic structure with Turkey, therefore it requires for Turkey to make use of their experience in terms of the harmonization to the EU policies. He said that owing to this case, ISRO gives their attention to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Poland in their research; however, ISRO prefers to focus more on the Polish case since Poland is a new-comer of the EU which experienced the long and tiring EU negotiation process.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ihsan Bal, Chairman of Center for International Security, Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict Studies, also emphasized the necessity of forming a common platform in terms of the common security policies for the Turkish-Polish bilateral relations.

In addition, during the visit, it is agreed on the subjects of necessity of forming several projects about the exchange of experts and trainees between two countries in order to increase the efficiency of the reciprocal researches for the EU negotiation process.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Ankara, Grzegorz Michalski, will make a visit to the ISRO within the month of October in order to fulfill a round-table meeting. He will share the Polish experience acquired during its EU negotiation process with the ISRO researchers and the other researchers who are interested in this subject.
Source: turkishweekly.net

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GE to open European cleaner coal center in Poland

GE Energy, a unit of General Electric Co. (GE), said Friday it will establish a European Cleaner Coal center in Warsaw to specialize in the development of clean coal technology.
The new center in Poland will, among other things, provide the U.S. conglomerate with a base for expanding the use of its integrated gasification combined-cycle technology across Europe. IGCC technology converts coal into a cleaner burning fuel, which is used in a gas turbine combined-cycle system to generate electricity.
"Because of its vast coal reserves, exceptional pool of engineering talent and its growing energy requirements, Poland is a natural location for this center," John Krenicki, GE Energy president and CEO said in a statement.
Poland is among the world's leading producers and consumers of coal, with recoverable reserves of hard coal estimated at 41 billion tons.
GE Energy, the GE subsidiary responsible for the clean coal technology, will locate the center in the same building as GE's aviation engineering design center in order to take advantage of GE aviation's expertise in engineering and developing a center.
GE currently employs approximately 5,000 people in Poland and expects to open the cleaner coal center in the next 60 to 90 days.
Company Web site: http://www.gepower.com

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