Sunday, 30 Jan. 2011By Geoffrey T. Smith and Marynia Kruk
DAVOS, Switzerland (Dow Jones)--Poland could float state-owned Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa SA, the European Union's largest coking coal miner, as early as May this year, though the structure of the stake sale is still to be determined, the undersecretary of the treasury, said Friday.
"We're testing various scenarios aiming to float sometime around May or June," Krzysztof Walenczak told Dow Jones Newswires during an interview at the annual World Economic Forum. The initial public offering of JSW could be the largest on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2011, though analysts' valuations of the company vary widely, from six billion zlotys ($2.1 billion) to nearly PLN16 billion.
Coking coal has become a hot commodity lately, especially after floods in Australia's Queensland state hit output of the commodity which is mixed with iron ore in blast furnaces to produce steel. Australia provides about two-thirds of all seaborn coking coal.
Poland is in the midst of a privatization drive which is aiming to raise at least PLN15 billion from asset sales this year, after having raised PLN22 billion last year, according to the Treasury Ministry's website.
JSW's valuation could be buoyed by interest from a potential "natural" acquirer from across the border, Czech-based coking coal producer New World Resources (NWR.LN), Pawel Puchalski, an analyst at BZWBK in Warsaw, said Friday.
NWR, which already has two existing projects in Poland, launched a failed takeover bid for Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka SA (LWB.WA), Poland's only listed coal miner, last year. The company has been able to seek acquisitions because of improved cash flow on soaring demand for coking coal by central European steel makers.
However, JSW's trade unions would likely oppose a bid by NWR. Analysts say JSW could cut about a third of its headcount if it upgraded the equipment it uses the way NWR has.
JSW's Chief Executive Jaroslaw Zagorowski was quoted as saying in state news agency PAP in early January that the listing could be worth between PLN3 billion and PLN5 billion, with the Treasury retaining a 51% stake and employees receiving shares.(sourced:Dow Jones Newswires)