Ciech CEO 'dismissed at prompting of Polish treasury ministry’

27 April 2012 15:02  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The CEO of Polish soda ash producer Ciech, Ryszard Kunicki, has been dismissed from his position by the company supervisory board at the prompting of Poland’s treasury ministry, a source at the ministry said on Friday.

Government officials were unhappy at the pace and results of the ongoing restructuring of Ciech and requested that the ministry, the controlling shareholder in the company, bring in “a new broom”, the source added.

Kunicki, formerly management board president at fertilizer producer Yara Poland, was appointed as Ciech CEO in August 2008. His current term as CEO was to expire in the middle of next year.

On 23 April, announcing Ciech’s first-quarter financial results, Kunicki argued that Ciech’s latest basic financial indicators had all strengthened significantly.

“The accumulation of restructuring costs is behind us, it is time for results,” he said.

However, government officials were “not particularly pleased” at the state of Zachem, Ciech’s toluene di-isocyanate (TDI), epichlorohydrin (ECH) and epoxy resins subsidiary, which was loss-making in 2011 and is now up for sale.

“They feel some fresh energy is needed to complete the restructuring and get Ciech ready for another privatisation attempt,” the source said.

Kunicki was voted out of office by an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held by the supervisory board, which also appointed supervisory board member Dariusz Krawczyk as interim CEO of Ciech for a period of three months. On 28 May, another EGM of the board would be presented with the results of the company process to find a permanent replacement for Kunicki from applicants, the company said.

The treasury ministry abandoned an attempt at privatising Ciech, Europe’s second largest soda ash maker, in early 2010, when the company was facing debt refinancing pressures.

In January 2012, it cancelled a tender to select an adviser for the relaunch of the privatisation of its controlling stake in the chemical group, saying the economic situation was too “volatile and unpredictable”.

The ministry’s current position is that the Polish state should target the sale of all major assets held in the chemical industry by late 2013.

Sales of assets, including the Ciech stake, could be made via the stock exchange, the ministry said.

However, before considering such sales, the ministry intended to spend the summer months probing for interest in the assets from potential strategic investors, it added.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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