Dell Moves Irish Manufacturing Opers To Poland, With 1,900 Job Losses

U.S. computer and information technology company Dell Inc. (DELL) Thursday said it is moving its Irish manufacturing operations to Poland by early 2010, with the loss of 1,900 Irish jobs.

The company, which established its manufacturing facilities for Europe, Middle East and Africa in Ireland in 1990, said the move is part of a $3 billion companywide cost-reduction initiative revealed last year.

Dell said 1,300 sales and marketing jobs will remain in Dublin, as will 1,000 Limerick-based jobs in logistics, solutions, procurement, engineering and product development. "Limerick will remain the logistics hub for Europe," a spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires.

Sean Corkery, vice president of EMEA operations, said in a statement: "This is a difficult decision, but the right one for Dell to become even more competitive, and deliver greater value to customers in the region."

Ireland provides an attractive 12.5% corporate tax rate for multinationals based in the country, but Dell said the transfer of operations aims to simplify operations, improve productivity and reduce costs.

Economists say the move is another sign that the Irish economy, fueled by the twin engines of a construction boom and multinational investment since the 1990s, is losing its edge to cheaper Eastern European countries.

Alan McQuaid, economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers, said the level of job cuts is disappointing. "If you're starting to lose jobs in multinationals it doesn't auger well for the economy as a whole," he said. "This is a warning that we need to remain competitive."
Source:By Quentin Fottrell, Dow Jones Newswires

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FEATURE-Pain, defiance in East Europe as strong euro takes toll

From mortgage holders to travel agents, many East Europeans are feeling poorer this winter after their local currencies lost up to a quarter of their value against the euro over the past six months.

The ex-communist region's once booming economies are now taking a nasty and unexpected further knock as the bitter row between Russia and Ukraine seriously disrupts gas supplies at a time of subzero temperatures.

Yet the mood among shoppers flocking to January sales in Warsaw, Prague and elsewhere remains surprisingly resilient and upbeat. Many say they have yet to feel the impact of the currency losses -- or of the global credit crunch that triggered them -- in their own daily lives.

"Personally I don't see any difference and customers don't seem to care whether the zloty is strong or not," said Katarzyna Pietkowska, 19, a Polish student selling souvenirs in a glitzy new Warsaw shopping mall.

"As a country, we survived Hitler and Stalin, so what's a little financial crisis," she said, expressing an optimism still prevalent among consumers in Poland, largest of the ex-communist nations to have joined the European Union since 2004.

Poland's economy is expected to have grown by more than 5 percent in 2008, though it is now slowing fast.

The zloty has lost 24 percent against the euro since last July as investors have fled a region seen as too risky at a time of global economic crisis. Hungary's forint has shed 16 percent, Romania's leu 15 percent and the Czech crown 12 percent.

Despite a brief New Year bounce, the currencies are expected to stay under pressure in the coming months as foreign investment continues to dry up and exports wither in the face of recession in western Europe, the region's main trade partner.
Some cast an envious glance at tiny Slovakia, which on January 1 became the first ex-Soviet bloc country to adopt the euro and thus escape the region's wild currency gyrations.


East Europeans who took out mortgages and other loans in euros or Swiss francs because of lower interest rates than those offered at home are among those hardest hit.

Romanian magazine designer Dan Ivanescu, 35, said monthly instalments on a euro-denominated loan he took out have leapt by 50 percent since September.

"I used to pay 1,000 lei in the summer and now because of the level of the euro I am paying about 1,500 lei. Because of this I was forced to scrap other expenses like clothing and household appliances," he told Reuters in Bucharest.

"I also had a loan to buy a plot of land to build a house on it later. But because of this crisis I got scared and decided to pay it back to the bank."

A weaker local currency also translates into higher prices of imported goods including fuel for countries of the region.

Companies as well as individuals are suffering.
"Retail companies have foreign currency loans like everybody else and their financing costs have increased," said Gyorgy Vamos, head of Hungary's National Alliance of Commerce.

"People will also buy less as access to foreign currency loans shrinks. The import costs of producers also rise, though those who also have exports find some compensation."

The travel industry is bracing for chilly times after a huge post-communist expansion in the number of Poles, Czechs and others buying exotic holidays in the sun.

"Foreign tours are going to get about 12 or so percent more expensive this year (because of the fall in the zloty)," said Jacek Dabrowski, spokesman of the Triada travel agent network.


The mood darkens noticeably away from the buzz and bright lights of the region's affluent capital cities.

"People in Budapest talk easily, almost all of them have a job. In the country it is harder," said Tibor Lovas, 48, a building worker in Hosszuheteny, a village in southern Hungary.

"The New Year festivities were much more subdued here than in previous years. The bars are empty. People buy ridiculous amounts of wood or coal for heating too, like 300 kg at a time."
Hungary needed an emergency IMF bailout last autumn to avert economic meltdown. Though Budapest shoppers also turned out in force for the sales, the tone is more cautious than in Warsaw or Prague whose economies are still relatively buoyant.

"Generally, individuals do not suffer from the crisis yet, but the bad things are yet to come, including unemployment and other negative developments caused by the financial crisis," said Budapest lawyer Joszef Heffentreger, 65.

Poles, by contrast, remain among the most optimistic in Europe about the economic situation and are continuing to spend their zlotys even as the clouds darken, surveys show.

"I buy whatever I want, just as before... Maybe things are a bit more expensive, but I don't need to count every zloty," said one Warsaw restaurant owner, 57, who declined to give his name.

"But I'm sure the crisis will affect me some day," he added.
Source: uk.reuters.com

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Propalms Secures International Representation Office in Poland, Europe and the Middle East

Propalms, Inc.is pleased to announce that the Company has signed an agreement with IT Business Centre (ITBC), based in Warsaw, Poland, to be its agent representative in Poland, Europe and the Middle East, further expanding its worldwide presence. With more than 10 years of international IT experience, ITBC provides complete IT and Telecom services, and serves as a one-stop shop for corporate network and database solutions.

The benefits of signing with ITBC and having an international agent representative are the low cost of entry into foreign markets. ITBC's International Representation Office (IRO), a separate division, consists of professional sales representatives, marketing specialists and a technical support team. IRO's active knowledge of the client base, competition and native languages are expected to facilitate numerous new business opportunities in the year ahead.

"We are a firm believer in Propalms' Terminal Services Edition and its ability to deliver applications reliably. We envision a mutually beneficial relationship in the year ahead and expect to add to Propalms's growing customer base," stated Wasim Bnayat, Director of IT Business Centre's Eastern Europe and Middle East Division.

"IRO's role will be to recruit new distributors and resellers on our behalf. We are very excited about this new partnership. ITBC have already proven their business development skills by signing of a new distribution contract with Sedcom in Poland," stated Owen Dukes, CEO of Propalms, Inc.

For more information about IT Business Centre, please visit the following link: www.itbc.com.pl.

About Propalms, Inc.:

Propalms, Inc. is a global provider of application delivery solutions for Terminal Services and Virtual Desktop Infrastructures. Delivering to enterprises of all sizes, Propalms offers reliable, scalable and affordable solutions that simply work. Our belief is that application delivery solutions should be flexible, dynamic and, above all, simple to use.

Statements contained in this news release, other than those identifying historical facts, constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Safe Harbor provisions as contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements relating to the Company's future expectations, including but not limited to revenues and earnings, technology efficacy, strategies and plans, are subject to safe harbors protection. Actual Company results and performance may be materially different from any future results, performance, strategies, plans, or achievements that may be expressed or implied by any such forward-looking statements. The Company disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

CONTACT: Propalms, Inc.
Investor Relations
+ 1-866-THE-APPL(E)

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Poland not threatened by Ukraine gas crisis

Poland has enough gas reserves and is not threatened with the shortages that other central European countries are experiencing, says Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of the ruling Civic Platform’s parliamentary party.

Chlebowski told Polish Radio this morning that Poland imports much of its gas via a pipeline from Belarus, so the total shut off of gas from Ukraine has only cut supplies by a total of 16 percent.

Poland’s gas usage has increased by 10 million cubic meters daily due to the recent snap of sub zero temperatures.

A statement by gas monopoly, PGNiG, said that reserves were being drawn on and supply to some industrial clients has been limited. Companies such as oil giant Orlen have experienced around a 14 percent drop in supply.

Eighteen countries are experiencing shortages, some severe. Slovakia declared a state of emergency, Wednesday, and is considering restarting a nuclear power plant to make up for the shortfall in energy.

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Poland's Millennium to scrap 2009 targets-report

Polish bank Millennium BIGW.WA will scrap its financial targets for this year when it announces quarterly earnings on Jan. 22, newspaper Parkiet reported on Wednesday, without giving sources.

The unit of Portugal's largest listed lender, Millennium bcp (BCP.LS), has planned to reach a 20 percent return on equity and reduce its cost-to-income ratio to 55 percent by the end of 2009.

The bank's spokesman was not available for comment and the head of its investor relations department declined to discuss the newspaper article.

Millennium Chief Executive Boguslaw Kott signalled in the middle of last year that the bank would review some of its medium-term goals following the slump in the mutual fund industry.

At 1040 GMT, shares in Millennium traded were unchanged at 2.9 zlotys. The bank lost three quarters of its market value last year.
Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, Simon Jessop

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UPDATE 2-Polish gas imports down 16 pct on Ukraine row

Poland's imports of Russian gas have dropped overall by only 16 percent despite a total halt in supplies via Ukraine triggered by the row between Moscow and Kiev over pricing, Polish gas monopoly PGNiG said on Wednesday.
PGNiG said it had offset much of the shortfall by increasing gas deliveries from a second pipeline crossing Belarus and also by tapping more extensively into Poland's domestic gas reserves.

The company also took steps to limit deliveries to its largest industrial clients to help shield private households and vital public services from disruption.

'At the moment (total) gas imports from the East are being carried out at 84 percent. In order to balance deliveries to clients, usage of gas from storage was increased,' PGNiG said in a statement.

PGNiG does not provide exact volumes of imported gas through each route, but the Ukrainian link is estimated at 14-15 billion cubic meters a day. Imports via Belarus have been increased by at least 5 billion cubic meters daily.

Poland uses about 13 billion cubic metres of gas annually, of which about one third comes from domestic gas sources
The Belarus pipeline and domestic reserves puts Poland, the largest ex-communist state in the European Union, in a stronger position than some of its neighbours.
'Compared to other countries in the region our situation is moderately safe thanks to the alternative import route,' DI BRE analyst Kamil Kliszcz told Reuters.

As temperatures have dropped well below zero in recent days, Poland's daily gas usage rose to about 55 million cubic metres daily from 45 million cubic metres before the cold spell, PGNiG spokeswoman Joanna Zakrzewska said.


On Wednesday large gas consumers including chemical makers and refiners started to receive information on an impending cut in gas supplies after the government approved measures aimed at economising on consumption.

Poland's largest fertiliser company Pulawy, which analysts see as most vulnerable to the disruption in gas supplies, has already reported PGNiG will cut the volume of supplied gas by between 12.5 and 16.7 percent as of Wednesday.

'If the reduction in imports persists, Pulawy would be the most vulnerable because it did not reduce its production levels earlier, unlike other chemical firms,' Kliszcz said.

The reduced supply to Pulawy might last until the end of January.

Poland's top oil refiner PKN Orlen will see its gas supplies cut by as much as 28 percent starting later on Wednesday and lasting until the end of January.

The cut in supplies will have a small impact on the company's profits because it will be forced to use heating oil instead of gas to keep its production running, PKN's spokesman Dawid Piekarz said.

Earlier the refiner declared that despite the gas disruption it will keep the refining level unchanged.

Other Polish chemical makers Police and Tarnow were forced to cut their production levels in late 2008 due to sharply reduced demand for fertilizers and falling prices which makes them more immune to the gas crisis.
Source: By Patryk Wasilewski and Pawel Bernat, forbes.com

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Russia to cut gas supply to Poland by 5 percent

A Polish energy official says Gazprom has informed Poland of a 5 percent cut in natural gas deliveries from Russia.

Deputy head of the Energy Regulating Office Marek Woszczyk says the decrease poses no threat as Poland receives natural gas deliveries via two separate pipelines running through Ukraine and Belarus.

Woszczyk also says Poland's reserves are 85 percent full.

The news Tuesday comes amid an escalating gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Source: iht.com

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UPDATE 1-Poland's PGNiG to ask industry to curb gas usage

* Deliveries via Ukraine fall by another 7 mln cubic metres

* Reduction of deliveries to industrial clients on horizon

* Chemical companies warn of impact on profit, output

(Combines stories, adds quote, details, background)

Poland's dominant gas distributor PGNiG (PGNI.WA) said on Tuesday it would ask industrial clients to limit gas usage as supplies via Ukraine were hit by the pricing dispute between Moscow and Kiev.

Deliveries through Ukraine fell by a further 7 million cubic metres on Tuesday, PGNiG said in a statement, forcing it to draw more gas from its storage facilities.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia over gas prices escalated dramatically on Tuesday, with deliveries halted to the Balkans, Turkey and southeast Europe.

Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Croatia said flows of Russian gas via Ukraine had stopped, creating what Bulgaria called a "crisis situation" in the middle of winter. [ID:nL6410970].

"PGNiG was told by RosUkrEnergo the (gas delivery) contract is impossible to carry out until further notice," PGNiG said.

The group said earlier its reserves were sufficient to supply all of its clients for a couple of weeks.

Gas pipeline operator Gaz System said it had asked the economy ministry for permission to cut deliveries to industrial clients in order to protect individuals.

Poland's largest fertiliser maker Pulawy PULW.WA, which uses nearly 1 billion cubic metres of gas annually, said the drop in deliveries may result in a further cut in production levels and have an impact on its results.

"There is a risk of further reduction in production levels," said Pulawy spokesman Grzegorz Kulik. "The fertilizing season is starting and it can have impact on the market and our results."

The company was already forced to cut its production levels by 30 percent in mid-November due to falling demand.

Ryszard Siwiec, the head of Poland's other leading chemical company Police PICE.WA, said he could be forced to halt production of nitrogen-based fertiliser, which accounts for a quarter of its output, if asked to further cut gas usage.

Source; By By Patryk Wasilewski and Adrian Krajewski, Will Waterman, reuters.com


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Polish c.banker sees 2009 growth down at 2 pct

Poland's economic growth will likely slow to around 2 percent this year, the central bank's policy maker Andrzej Slawinski said.

'The divergence of forecasts is high ... but the growth close to 2 percent is the most likely scenario,' Slawinski, a moderate member of the 10-strong rate-setting panel, told radio PiN in an interview.
Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, Mike Peacock, forbes.com


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UPDATE 1-Ferrovial's units win Polish road order

A group that includes Spanish builder Ferrovial (FER.MC) and its units Cintra (CCIT.MC) and Budimex BMEX.WA have won a major road deal in Poland, Budimex said on Monday.

Spanish newspaper Expansion reported that the contract could be worth 1.8 billion euros ($2.51 billion).

"The deal ... is now at the Ministry of Infrastructure, which needs to consult the Finance Ministry," said Krzysztof Koziol, spokesman at Polish Budimex. "Nobody has thus far settled the price."

Autostrada Poludnie, controlled by Ferrovial, Cintra and Budimex, is to build the 180-kilometre toll road between Strykow in Central Poland and Pyrzowice in the South.

Budimex is also the favourite to win a second motorway project in Poland worth 1 billion euros, Expansion said.
Source: By Tracy Rucinski, Adrian Krajewski, Will Waterman, .reuters.com

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UPDATE 1-Polish c.bankers diverge on 2009 growth forecast

Polish central bank policymakers on Monday offered differing views on the scale of the economic slowdown in 2009, underscoring uncertainty about the impact of the global financial crisis on the EU's largest eastern member.
The divergence of forecasts is high ... but the growth close to 2 percent is the most likely scenario,' Slawinski, a moderate member of the 10-strong rate-setting panel, told radio PiN in an interview.
Andrzej Slawinski, a moderate on the 10-member rate-setting Monetary Policy Council (MPC), said he expects growth of around 2 percent this year, while his hawkish colleague Marian Noga told a newspaper economic growth would slow to 3 percent.

However, both figures mark a significant slowdown from a predicted growth rate for 2008 of at least 5 percent, with markets expecting the central bank to respond by cutting interest rates by a total of one percentage point during 2009.

Analysts have in recent months slashed forecasts for the local economy as worries mount that recession in the euro zone, Poland's main trade partner, will derail years of strong growth.

The deteriorating outlook for the economy also prompted the central bank to slash borrowing costs by a total of 1 percentage point late last year, including a 75 basis point cut in December, its biggest easing in six years.

The main interest rate in Poland now stands at 5 percent.
Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, Mike Peacock, forbes.com

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Poland's gas via Ukraine still less

Gas deliveries to Poland via Ukraine remained lower by 5 million cubic metres daily on Monday, Poland's dominant gas distributor PGNiG (PGNI.WA) said in a statement on Monday.

The drop is being made up fr with imports thorugh Belarus, and Poland is not experiencing a drop in overall gas deliveries, PGNiG added.

Source: ByPatryk Wasilewski, reuters.com

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Poland aims to sell Enea stake for $2.4 bln -report

Poland wants to sell its remaining 76.5 percent stake in utility Enea ENEAa.WA, minority owned by Sweden's Vattenfall [VATN.UL], for 7 billion zlotys ($2.4 billion), the treasury minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

In November, Poland sold 19 percent of Enea to Vattenfall for 1.7 billion zlotys as part of Warsaw's largest initial public offering last year.

The state-owned Swedish energy group has already said it wants ultimately to hold all of Enea.

"If we sell all of Enea, as planned, we should get some 7 billion zlotys," Treasury Minister Alkesander Grad in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.

Although Grad has said any investor would be allowed to bid for the Enea stake, Vattenfall is seen as the most likely buyer.

Grad added he hoped Vattenfall would also buy the remaining stakes of two other Polish energy companies, GZE and Vattenfall Heat Poland, for about 1.2 billion zlotys in early 2009. Poland was close to unloading the stakes in December, but Vattenfall backed out at the last minute over a disagreement with energy regulator URE on electricity prices.
Source: By Patryk Wasilewski, Will Waterman, reuters.com

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