Polmos Bialystok, the Polish state-owned spirits, is being prepared for floatation on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE), the deputy Treasury Minister Tadeusz Steckiewicz was reported to have said in the Polish press yesterday.

The move is a radical change in the privatisation process of one of Poland's leading distillers. There have been three previous attempts to sell 51% of the distiller on the open market, which has around 24% of the Polish domestic vodka market. The asking price was thought to be around US$150m. And, observers suggested that any potential bidders would have to invest substantially in developing distribution and marketing at the company.

It is now likely that some 20-30% of the company's shares will be sold to a strategic investor, along side a public float, Steckiewicz was quoted as saying. The floatation it is thought could take until the end of the year.

Poland's Treasury is apparently intending to sell eight Polmoses in 2002. The state press agency PAP reported yesterday that between the first and second quarter, the Treasury plans to sell Polmos Lancut and Torun. In the second quarter Polmos facilities in Konin and Podlasie would go, while Akwawit is to be sold between the third and fourth quarter and Polmos Zielona Gora at the end of the year.
But Steckiewicz told MPs that production over-capacity of some 50-60%, the poor financial condition of the Polmos firms, high excise taxes and lack of a long-term excise policy are slowing down the privatisation process.