Gliwice plant starts production of new Opel Astra sedan

General Motors Europe's Gliwice assembly plant in southern Poland has commenced production of the new Opel Astra sedan. The OEM unveiled the new model at the Istanbul motor show in November 2006.
Source: automotiveworld.com

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Leon Tarasewicz on Poland's plunge into provincialism

According to Leon Tarasewicz, a painter and one of Poland's most renowned contemporary artists, his country is in the midst of a profound crisis: "There was a time when we looked down on countries like Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. Today these countries are developing faster than Poland, and if there is a change of system in Belarus it'll be even more embarrassing because it, too, could overtake us... Using the word 'patriotism' at every opportunity and marking the many anniversaries with street celebrations - like at the markets in the Middle Ages - won't get us anywhere if it makes us forget the things that are really important. A young person can only be proud of his country if he is satisfied with what he sees. Big words and anachronistic views of the past simply aren't enough. The country is in dire need of true reform. Otherwise backwardness and relegation to Europe's backwaters could result."
Source: europe.courrierinternational.com

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Gazprom plans to re-route controversial European pipeline

Under pressure because of environmental and security concerns, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy monopoly, is planning the first of three re-routings of a controversial pipeline to run under the Baltic Sea, officials said Thursday, a shift that could cost an extra €1 billion.

Ever since the pipeline project was started two years ago, it has been racked by difficulties, with numerous countries in Northern and Central Europe raising objections. The planned re-routing hopes to avoid problems involving Denmark, Poland, Finland and Estonia.

Once built, the joint Russian-German project, whose chairman is the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, will allow Russia to reduce its dependence on the transit countries of Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. This means Russia would be able to send uninterrupted supplies of gas to Europe, where it will have guaranteed markets through long-term sales contracts.

However, it could also increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas at a time when several EU governments are already concerned about the bloc's reliance on Russia as one of its main energy suppliers. The EU imports more than a quarter of its gas from Russia, with Germany buying as much as 35 percent of its supply from Gazprom.

But the glitches that have arisen since the project, called Nord Stream, was officially begun by Schröder and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Berlin in September 2005 mean that the cost of building the pipeline could increase, according to the company.

Stakes in Nord Stream are divided among Gazprom, which holds the majority, and Germany's two energy companies, E.ON Ruhrgas and Wintershall.

The cost of the offshore pipeline could increase by €1 billion, or $1.35 billion, according to Nord Stream officials, bringing the total to €6 billion. The overall cost of the project - including the onshore pipeline, which includes building a pipeline on Russian and German territory - could cost €12 billion, depending on the world market costs for steel, according to Nord Stream. There could even be delays because of the difficulties in obtaining construction permits because of the lengthy investigations and hearings into the environmental risks for the 1,200-kilometer, or 1,900-mile, -long project, which consists of two parallel pipelines.

Jens Müller, a spokesman for Nord Stream, said this week that the company had decided to re-route the part of the pipeline that would have passed between the Danish and Polish parts of the Baltic Sea, running south of the Danish island of Bornholm. Instead, it will now run north of Bornholm, adding an additional eight kilometers to the pipeline's total length. The decision to reroute the pipeline will minimize environmental impact and avoid munitions dump sites south of the island of Bornholm, Müller said.

Danish officials said Nord Stream had changed the route because it wanted to avoid entering a potential political minefield because of an unresolved border dispute between Denmark and Poland.

"Nord Stream changed the route because there is no border demarcation between Poland and Denmark," said Birgitta Jacobsen from the Danish Energy Authority, a division of the Danish Ministry of Transport and Energy. "Nord Stream did not want to enter an area with unclear borders."

Re-routing this part of the pipeline will not, however, mean that offshore construction of the pipeline can begin. Nord Stream is under pressure to change routes that pass under the waters of Finland, Estonia and Sweden, according to officials in the region.

"There are two other routes under discussion which involve Finland and Estonia," said Sten Jerdenius of the Swedish Environment Ministry, who is one of the main coordinators in the region monitoring whether the pipeline conforms with UN environmental rules.

The countries affected by the Nord Stream pipeline - Germany, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia - belong to the UN Espoo Convention, whose member states are obliged to notify and consult one another on all major projects that are likely to have a significant environmental impact across national borders.

In the case of Finland, its environmental agency wants the pipeline moved farther south.

"The reason is that the proposed route moves over a lot of rocks," Jerdenius said. "This would involve a lot of blasting." Farther south would mean moving into Estonian waters where the sea bed is flat. That means Nord Steam would have to negotiate for permits with Estonia, he said.

Another region of dispute is the Swedish island of Gotland. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency wants Nord Stream to shift the pipeline south because the island's banks are internationally recognized as protected areas. Even if the company agreed to do this, it could run into problems over munitions dumping sites left over from World War II.

"This is turning out to be a huge project that involves several countries, lots of nongovernmental agencies and big environmental issues," Jerdenius said.

Source:By Judy Dempsey, iht.com

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Poland sells 1.63 bln zlotys of 5- and 10-yr bonds at switch tender

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland sold 698.86 mln zlotys of its benchmark five-year bonds and 926.86 mln zlotys of 10-year notes in exchange for the papers maturing later this year and in April 2008 at a switch tender today, the finance ministry said.

The ministry said the minimum price paid for the 5-year bonds at the tender was 960.80-960.83 zlotys, with the average yield totaling 5.703-5.706 pct.

The minimum price paid for the 10-year bonds was 958.30 zlotys, with the average yield at 5.788 pct, the statement said.

Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, forbes.coml

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Finance minister says Poland's budget gap to be at 2.9 pct of GDP in 2009

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Polish finance minister Zyta Gilowska said today that Poland will cut its general government deficit to 2.9 pct in 2009, in line with the country's convergence plan.

'I maintain the view that in 2009 Poland will reduce its general government deficit to 2.9 pct of the country's gross domestic product (GDP),' Gilowska told parliament.

According to the convergence plan, which presents the path to bring the budget gap below the 3 pct of GDP, Polish deficit will reach 3.1 pct of GDP in 2008, or 0.3 percentage points lower than seen in 2007.

Earlier this month deputy finance minister Katarzyna Zajdel-Kurowska told Thomson Financial News in an interview that Warsaw will update its convergence plan in November and probably lower its forecasts for this year's deficit from the 3.4 pct forecast in April.

Source: By Paweł Sobczak, forbes.com

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Aberdeen takes a flier on Poland

Airport managers are exploring the possibility of introducing direct flights from Aberdeen to Poland, BBC Scotland can reveal.

BAA has been speaking to a number of airlines about potential routes, which would serve the estimated 25,000 Poles living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Figures show the number of passengers using Aberdeen Airport soared by more than 10% in the past year.

The link would be widely welcomed according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Aberdeen has been consistently among the fastest growing of BAA's UK airports.


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Poland's PZU should move quickly to merge with PKO - CEO

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland's largest insurer PZU should merge with the country's biggest lender PKO Bank Polski as quickly as possible, its chief executive Jaromir Netzel said today.

'The plan to merge (both companies), which has been presented by the prime minister is right and should be put in place as quickly as possible,' Netzel told journalists.

'At the treasury ministry's level the work is already ongoing, but I don't know the details,' he added.

The Polish prime minister said last month his government wants to merge both state-controlled companies to create a national financial group. Analysts, however, are sceptical about the plans, because Poland is locked in a dispute over control of PZU with its Dutch-based shareholder Eureko.

PZU earned 2.6 bln zlotys in the first half of this year, or twice as much as PKO.

Source: By Adrian Krajewski, forbes.com

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Survey on direct flight to Poland

The potential for direct flights between Inverness and a destination in Poland is to be investigated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

An online survey has been launched on the agency's website to gauge the level of interest in the area.

Last month, BBC Scotland reported that Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) said it was a market it was interested in.

There are thought to be more than 8,000 Poles living in the Highlands.

Many of them travel to the Central Belt or London to make their visits to home.

The survey can be found at www.hie.co.uk/poland-flights.

It will help HIE determine how many people would use the service and how often.

That information will then be passed on to HIAL and to airlines who may be interested in developing new routes and services.

Souorce: bbc.co.uk

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Boost for Belvedere sales in Poland

The performance of the Belvedere spirits group, the owner of the Sobieski distillery, in Poland (which accounted for 38% of total sales during the first six months of 2007), has improved significantly, with sales increasing by 107.9% year on year. Excluding recently acquired distributors, the business boasted 16.1% growth from continuing operations as a result of an 8% gain in its market share in terms of volume.
At the end of June the group’s vodka sales in Poland, in terms of volume, had a market share of 28.5% (according to Nielsen).
Source: polishmarket.com

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Timken Bearings equip Siemens-built steel mill in Poland

Canton, OH -- The Timken Company announced today that it is the exclusive supplier of tapered, spherical and cylindrical roller bearings for Arcelor Mittal's new high-capacity hot-strip steel rolling mill in Krakow, Poland. Timken received the $2-million contract from Siemens Metals Technologies, which is building the mill.

Timken bearings have been installed in various locations throughout the mill, including the roll stands that shape the steel, cutting shears and the power coilers that wind the finished steel sheets onto a roll, and other equipment. The mill is scheduled to be commissioned later this quarter.

August 09, 2007
"We work closely with builders to bring our first-hand knowledge of rolling-mill manufacturing to the design and selection of the bearing products for such a mill," said Michael J. Connors, Timken's vice-president - industrial equipment.

With a steel strip width of up to 2100 mm, or 84 inches, the mill will produce some of the widest finished products in Europe for carbon, stainless and special-steel grades to meet the higher quality needs of the automotive, petroleum and fuel industries. The new mill will also significantly reduce operating costs for Arcelor Mittal, while producing 2.4 million tons of steel annually, which is approximately 20% of total steel production in Poland.

London-based Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, invested around 300 million euros, or about US$400 million, in construction of the Krakow mill. Part of a comprehensive modernization program, the mill is the first hot-rolled facility to be built in Europe in 10 years.
Source: mromagazine.com

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Poland to offer 5- and 10-year bonds at switch tender on Wednesday - ministry

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland will offer 5- and 10-year bonds in return for paper maturing this year and early next year, at a switch tender on Wednesday, the finance ministry said today(08.20.07).

The ministry said it could buy back up to 4.35 bln zlotys of bonds maturing in December this year and up to 11.31 bln zlotys in bonds due in April 2008 at the tender.
Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, forbes.com

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Warsaw Stock Exchange weekly/Top 5 winners - Bottom 5 losers

Top 5 winners - Bottom 5 losers

Top 5 winners

AGORA Agora Group is the publisher of Poland's largest daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, the free paper, Metro - which last year saw a record readership - as well as 16 other periodicals. It also owns and co-owns 28 local radio stations such as TOK FM. The company is the leader in Poland's press advertising market and owns outdoor-advertising company AMS

EMPERIA Emperia is a FMCG-products wholesaler and retailer. The company mainly operates in southeastern Poland, but it recently acquired chains in the Wielkopolskie voivodship. Emperia also supplies large and medium-size grocery stores, boasting a 55% share in sales. The firm owns the Stokrotka and Groszek supermarket chains.

MOSTALPLC Mostostal Płock is a capital group which trades construction services in Poland and abroad. The firm is also involved in the export and wholesale of goods, earning 90 percent of its revenues from sales of construction services on the domestic market. The group consists of steel-structures, electronics and power-engineering companies, among others.

FORTISPL Fortis Bank is medium-sized bank with small and medium-sized enterprises as key customers. The bank operates mainly in southern Poland. Fortis Bank is part of the Fortis group, which was formed in 1990 from of a merger between Belgian insurer AG1824 and Dutch AMEV/VSB. Fortis' worldwide activities are divided into banking and insurance. In Poland, Fortis operates mainly through Fortis Bank Polska, Fortis Private Investments Polska and Fortis Lease.

CEDC Founded in 1990, Central European Distribution Corporation is Poland's leading producer of vodka in Poland and a leading producer of vodka worldwide. It also distributes and imports other beverages on the domestic market, with 700 brands in total. Its distribution network in Poland consists of 16 centers and 76 satellite branches.

Bottom 5 losers

ECARD Ecard is a Warsaw-based e-finance company focused on delivering integrated electronic payments solutions encompassing payment cards and e-payments. The company has a share capital of zł.24 million. The firm began its operations in 2000 and today it handles approximately 90% of card-transaction turnover on the Polish internet.

ELEKTRIM Elektrim is Poland's largest conglomerate. The company focuses on telecommunications, electrical power engineering, and electro-machinery. In 2001, the company acquired web portal Poland.com from MCI Management (MCI). The Elektrim group is the second-biggest land-line telephone operator in Poland. In the electrical-power engineering sector, the group constructs and modernizes power plants and energy boilers through its subsidiaries Elektrim-Energetyka, Megadex and Rafako. Elektrim's main products include wires and conduits.

STORMM Stormm is the new name of Elektromontaż-Warszawa, a Warsaw-based firm operating in the electrical-installation and technologies market. It is the modern successor of a state-owned company that was established in 1948. The firm was privatized in 1994 and in 1997 it entered the bourse.

HAWE Warsaw-based Hawe specializes in the design and construction of telecommunication networks. The company serves high-profile customers such as Netia, Exatel, Telekomunikacja Polska, Polkomtel, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa and KGHM Polska Mied�. It debuted on the WSE in February 2007 and owns 100-percent stakes in subsidiary PBT Hawe and, through that firm, Fone. Hawe saw a net loss of zł.977,000 in Q1 2007.

FAMUR Famur Group is the largest manufacturer and supplier of technologically advanced equipment and machinery for the mining industry sector in Poland. The operation of the group encompasses a highly diversified range of equipment and machines used in underground and open-pit mining, the crude-oil and gas-extraction sectors as well as the railroad and cement industry. Famur also carries out overhaul and service works, conducts overhaul research operations and also manufactures machines and equipment used in industry sectors other than mining. Famur Group has over 3,500 employees.


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Poland deputy finance minister says 2008 GDP may grow less than 5.7 pct

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Polish economy may grow at a slower pace than the earlier forecasted 5.7 pct in 2008, as there are more signals of higher risk aversion and a turnaround at global equity markets, Poland's Deputy Finance Minister Katarzyna Zajdel-Kurowska told Gazeta Prawna daily.

'We are still working at changing our forecasts,' Zajdel-Kurowska was quoted as saying. 'But already today I cannot exclude revising GDP (guidance) for 2007 and 2008.'

'In the case of 2008 the growth pace of GDP may be lower than the earlier forecasted 5.7 pct.'

She reiterated that GDP growth in the second quarter of this year will be lower than the decade-high 7.4 pct seen in the first three months of the year, adding the April-June period may be this year's worst quarter.

'I may not exclude more foreign debt issues this year,' Zajdel-Kurowska told Gazeta Prawna. 'Our needs for this year amount to around 0.5 bln eur more, but we'll see what the market situation is.'

Source: forbes.com

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Poland's TP telecoms giant fined by competition watchdog

Polish competition authorities Friday fined the country's biggest telecoms operator, Telekomunikacja Polska (TP), 33 million zlotys (8.6 million euros, 11.7 million dollars) for hampering rivals' market access.

The country's telecoms regulator said it had punished TP, in which France Telecom has a 47.5-percent stake, for its "lack of goodwill in negotiations" with other companies that were seeking access to its network.

In a statement, TP said it was "surprised" by the watchdog's ruling and planned to appeal.

The former state monopoly provider remains the leading player in Poland's telecoms market and still controls access for fixed line services.

It has fallen foul of Polish competition authorities on several previous occasions for allegedly abusing its powerful position.


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