Photo: Bloomberg

A word of advice to investors thinking of taking a flutter on central European refiners: don’t.

That comes from Tomas Pletser of Erste Bank, who took a look at the region’s refiners and found little to cheer in a sector buffeted by overcapacity, and by the slowdown in western Europe, all with the threat of growing competition from Russian refiners. Read more

There was an old adage during the gold rush that the guy running the grocery shop and the saloon made a killing, while prospectors lost their shirts. It seems that the same principle applies to the humbler world of road building and asphalt supplies.

As the dust settles on Poland’s ambitious road building programme it turns out that somebody did make money on building hundreds of kilometres of new highways. It just wasn’t the people building the roads, but the companies making the asphalt – Poland’s two largest refiners, PKN Orlen and the Lotos Group. Read more

Poland’s Lotus Group’s hunt to diversify away from its reliance on downstream refining and sales for the bulk of its income has run into huge trouble thanks to problems with the ill-fated Yme North Sea oil platform, in which the Polish refiner has a 20 per cent stake. Read more

The last Soviet soldiers left Polish territory in 1992, but that hasn’t ended Polish worries about Russian imperialism – as seen by Friday’s vote in the Polish parliament during which the opposition narrowly won a vote to block the sale of oil refiner Lotos Group.

The only serious buyers for Poland’s second largest oil company were thought to be Russian. Read more

Poland’s government is becoming increasingly fond of “privatisations” that see state-owned firms sold off to other companies controlled by the government – a way of using sale proceeds to bolster the budget while keeping control of important parts of the economy.

Now Mikolaj Budzanowski, the new treasury minister, has told Puls Biznesu newspaper that Lotos Group, the country’s heavily indebted second largest refiner, may end up being sold to a Polish energy company. Read more

The sale of Lotos Group, Poland’s second-largest refiner, is plodding ahead, with the treasury ministry setting a date of December 20 for final bids.

But if, as many expect, the process ends without a winner, speculation is rising that the government will return to its time-worn formula of trying to join Lotos with its larger state controlled rival, PKN Orlen. Will that work? Read more

The gloom and turmoil spreading east from the eurozone is hitting the Polish treasury ministry, which is revamping its privatisation plans amid fears that the time is not right to get a decent price for its assets. Read more

Serious interest in buying Poland’s Lotos Group has come only from Russian companies, making the sale of the government-owned refiner politically problematic before this autumn’s parliamentary election.

Unofficially, the Russian companies who submitted bids for Lotos before the treasury ministry’s deadline at the end of last month include TNK BP, GazpromNeft and Rosneft, according to Poland’s Parkiet newspaper. Read more

The Polish government’s plans to sell off a majority stake in Lotos Group, the country’s second largest refiner, have received a boost with a positive report by Raiffeisen Bank.

But there is a catch. As Raiffeisen suggests, the most likely buyer of the shares is a state-run energy company from Russia, Azerbaijan or the Middle East. So a Lotos “privatisation” could simply result in swapping a Polish state shareholder for a foreign one. Read more