Asseco Poland group buys German peer for 26.2 mln eur

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Polish software group Asseco Poland has bought German peer Matrix42 for around 26.2 mln eur, strengthening its position outside Eastern Europe, the company said in a statement today.

Matrix42 specialises in producing software for lifecycle management, and operates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, US and Canada. It will join its local peer AP Automation+Productivity in Asseco's German group.

'The total value of the transaction, together with costs, should not exceed 26.2 mln zlotys,' the company said in a statement.

Asseco Poland, which is to merge with Poland's Prokom Software to form the region's biggest software producer, has subsidiaries - besides Poland and Germany - in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania and the Balkans.

Source: By Adrian Krajewski, forbes.com

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Poland, Eureko move to settle long-running dispute

WARSAW, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Poland and Dutch insurer Eureko agreed on Thursday to allow the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to play a part in efforts to resolve their long-running dispute over control of insurer PZU.

Poland's treasury ministry and Eureko resumed talks after more than six months, following the appointment of a new centre-right government that replaced more protectionist conservatives.

The eight-year old dispute since Eureko took a stake in the state-controlled PZU has been a black mark on Poland's privatisation record and could cost the state budget as much as 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion) if no compromise is reached.

At a meeting between new Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad and Eureko representatives, the two sides agreed to create a joint group to seek a compromise.

Eureko agreed to allow the EBRD to prepare its own resolution proposal, which could involve the organisation taking a stake in PZU.

Poland, which has 55 percent of PZU, had reneged on an agreement to float the region's largest insurer and allow Eureko to gain a majority stake. The Dutch group has slightly less than 33 percent.

Eureko has won several international arbitration rulings against Poland and is awaiting a decision on damages, which sources close to the company put at as much as 2 billion euros.

Source: (Reporting by Chris Borowski; Editing by David Holmes) www.reuters.com

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Walking on hot coals

Poland does not see why the European Union should stop it burning coal

THE Polish economy is growing fast, despite the global slowdown. That means it is consuming more energy. But the government has no real energy policy—so the country will end up using more coal, with all that implies for carbon emissions.

Nuclear-power policy is no more successful. An agreement between Poland and the three Baltic countries to build a nuclear-power plant on the site of a former Soviet reactor in Lithuania has not yet been signed. The Poles are unhappy that the Lithuanians are offering them less than the 1,200 megawatts of electricity they need for the project to make economic sense. Another idea is to build a nuclear-power plant in Poland itself, its first. But this is unpopular with Poles, who recall the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

So attention returns to coal. Waldemar Pawlak, the economy minister, has declared his love for the black stuff and, partly in response to record oil prices, has even called for greater emphasis on it. Poland depends on coal for some 95% of its electricity. But the European Union's ambitious plans to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020 and to boost renewable energy are raising questions over coal. The Poles have already taken the European Commission to court over their emissions allowance, which they say is unreasonably low. This clash will continue, as all EU members seek higher emissions allowances and lower targets for renewables.

Poland will inevitably continue to rely heavily on coal, says Jerzy Buzek, an engineer who served as prime minister in 1997-2001 and is now a member of the European Parliament. The country has the biggest coal reserves in the European Union (see chart). The government supports the development of technology to make it cleaner and more efficient to burn coal, but that is not yet available. Mr Buzek pins his hopes on techniques to liquefy or gasify coal, but they are not yet developed. The capture and storage of carbon emissions underground is another possibility, but has yet to be used on any scale. And it could send the cost of coal soaring.

Next week, the commission will propose its emissions targets. Like others in eastern Europe, the Poles think the problem has been caused by richer countries. But as the biggest EU member in the region, they need an energy policy, too.

Source: economist.com

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Poland sells 955 mln zlotys of 5-yr, 20-yr bonds at switch tender

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland sold 524 mln zlotys of its 5-year bonds and 431 mln zlotys of 20-year papers at a switch tender today, in exchange for bonds coming due in months ahead, the finance ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it also sold 767 mln zlotys of inflation-linked notes maturing in August 2016 at the tender.

Sales of the little-traded paper lower the ministry's need to issue its core fixed-rate bonds, which are the most liquid on debt markets.

Source: By Paweł Sobczak, forbes.com

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