What’s next for Polska Press? The new president of Orlen presented his vision in an interview for the Financial Times

Luc Williams

“I must emphasize that we absolutely do not need the Polska Press media company,” Fąfara emphasized in an interview with the Financial Times and announced the search for an investor “who will be able to buy it at a fair price.” He recalled that in 2020, Orlen agreed to buy Polska Press, the largest owner of regional newspapers in Poland, from the German company Verlagsgruppe Passau. The takeover took place after the announcement of the then PiS government regarding the “re-Polonization” of the media and cutting off foreign influence on this sector.

The planned change in Orlen’s strategy will cover all areas of its operations

As reported by the Financial Times, Fąfara also stated that he wants to remove Orlen from the Norwegian watch list and dispel shareholders’ concerns about the influence of politicians on the company’s strategy. “Investors tend to avoid politically engaged companies because they are perceived as unpredictable and risky,” he explained. In 2023, the ethics board of the Norwegian state oil fund, which has 0.4 percent. shares in Orlen, put the company on a watch list because of the implications of the acquisition of Polska Press for press freedom and freedom of speech in Poland.

During a Tuesday conversation with journalists in Płock, Orlen’s president also said that the planned change in Orlen’s strategy will cover all areas of its operations. This will include, among others: acceleration in the renewable energy sector. The company intends to present an update of its strategy in December. In August, during the second quarter of the year, Orlen should report the results of the review of current investment expenditure. Also in August, there are plans to meet with Saudi Aramco and present specific cooperation proposals to the Saudis.

As the president noted, Orlen is still interested in developing the technology of small SMR nuclear reactors, but has started talks with its partner in this project, Synthos, on changing the formula of cooperation. “We are conducting talks on changes in the way the company operates (OSGE – PAP), but we want to develop the technology itself.” Fąfara also announced that the company is carrying out “intensive activities” to recover the money that Orlen Trading Switzerland transferred to oil trading intermediaries and cannot recover it. “I legitimately hope it won’t be zero,” he said, referring to how much money would be recovered.

Will Orlen Trading Switzerland be liquidated?

In April, Orlen’s press office confirmed that the prosecutor’s office had received a notification regarding the actions of the former management board of the concern in the case of Orlen Trading Switzerland (OTS). On April 10, Orlen announced that due to OTS losing PLN 1.6 billion in prepayments for undelivered crude oil, the company plans to adjust its annual results for 2023 by this amount. Orlen Trading Switzerland trades in refined petroleum products and petrochemical products. According to the information posted on the company’s website, it supplies products from five Orlen refineries, but also from other leading global suppliers – both private and state-owned – it was noted.

Fąfara noted on Tuesday that there are no plans to liquidate OTS for now. The company is staying for now, which is important from the point of view of efforts to recover the money, he emphasized. “Our negotiating position would be significantly weakened if the company ceased to exist or went bankrupt. This is the opinion of Swiss lawyers,” he added.

The Orlen Group is a multi-energy concern that has refineries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, as well as a network of gas stations, including in Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. It is also developing the hydrocarbon, oil and gas, petrochemical and renewable energy segments. It also plans to develop safe nuclear energy. By 2030, it intends to launch at least one small SMR nuclear reactor.


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