Bain and Cinven in for Polish chemicals

Poland has shortlisted six bidders for controlling stakes in chemical firms Ciech, Tarnow and ZAK, a state agency in charge of the process said on Thursday.

The list includes German chemical group PCC, Lithuania’s UAB Achema, National Qatar Industries Company, Polish fund Mistral and two private equity investors – Bain Capital and Cinven .

Poland holds 37% of Ciech, 53% of Tarnow and 86% of ZAK.

‘Our priority still is to sell all three stakes to one investor but the market will verify this strategy,’ said Marek Karabula, head of Nafta Polska, a government agency which holds stakes in several Polish chemical companies.

‘Among the shortlisted bidders at least one placed an offer for all three companies but there are bidders who want only one. Our aim during the negotiations will be to convince potential buyers of synergies among the three.’

Nafta Polska marked price as its main criterion, as the treasury wants to help finance the gaping hole in its budget pegged at PLN52.2bn (US$18.4bn) next year.

The agency did not elaborate on individual bids, stressing only that all shortlisted offers were above market valuations. Based on market capitalisations, the state holdings in Ciech and Tarnow are valued at around US$260m.

Ciech’s share price was up 1.7% at PLN39.37 by 1027 GMT, when Tarnow was up 4.2% at PLN16.65 and Warsaw’s broad WIG market index was little changed.

The treasury wants to sign the deals by the end of the year as part of a larger privatisation drive, which is set to bring in as much as PLN12bn to state coffers in 2009.