LOT Polish airlines will still be sold this year – CEO
February 18, 2013
The troubled Polish flag carrier PLL LOT will still be sold this year, after a restructuring involving mass layoffs, newly appointed LOT CEO Sebastian Mikosz told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
"I am confident that LOT can be privatized and this is my (...) objective number one," Mikosz said. "We should restructure the company with a view to privatizing it."
Mikosz said he had already discussed his restructuring plan with the Treasury Minister and got a go ahead. "It is beyond doubt that changes in LOT must be radical," he said.
They will include mass layoffs affecting over 500 jobs. "The process has already started, we are in talks with trade unions, voluntary departures program has already been introduced in the company,”, Mikosz said.
The state Treasury which now holds 68% of shares in the company does not have to sell off its entire stake, it can remain a minority shareholder, Mikosz said.
Asked who could buy LOT Mikosz said that the most natural investor in LOT would be another European airline, although presently there was no interest among EU air carriers in buying LOT. However, he added, "they may always change their minds."
According to Mikosz another scenario is also possible - part of the LOT shares could be sold to investment funds and/or a minority stake could go to a non-EU airline.
Under the EU law at least 50% plus one share should be owned by an EU country.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that without mass layoffs LOT does not stand a chance of surviving. He also said that the carrier will not get any financial support from the government. “Without tough restructuring LOT will cease to exist”, Tusk said.
Mikosz was appointed the company’s new CEO on Feb.6 after LOT's supervisory board dismissed previous CEO Marcin Pirog in December 2012. Mikosz earlier headed LOT between spring 2009 and autumn 2010.
On Mikosz’ appointment the Treasury Minister Mikołaj Budzanowski said he wanted the new CEO to restructure the firm so that it first regained economic viability and then a strategic investor would be found for it.
LOT is in serious financial trouble. Under Pirog PLL LOT had applied for PLN 1 billion worth loan in the frame of state aid. The company had before received a PLN 400 million loan from the State Treasury.
LOT recorded a PLN 145.5 million loss in 2011 and PLN 163.1 million loss in 2010.
In 2012 the company is expected to post a PLN 200 million loss.