Watchdog told to scrutinise Azoty share buying of Russia's Acron

11 July 2014 15:12 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Poland's treasury ministry said on Friday it had told the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) to examine whether all disclosure obligations were fulfilled during transactions that have enabled Russia's Acron to build up a 20% stake in Grupa Azoty.

The treasury ministry – which with a 33% stake in Grupa Azoty is the company's largest shareholder – added that state officials were working to ensure that Grupa Azoty was soundly protected against any possible hostile takeover attempt.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk responded to questions as to whether such a takeover could succeed by stating: “In this case, the state's stake plus the stakes of friendly investors will guarantee full state control over Azoty today and also when it comes to the future.”

By taking its stake in Europe's second largest fertilizer producer to 20%, Acron can at least bid for a seat on the supervisory board and gain more access to company documents and know-how, investment bank WOOD & Company noted.

In mid-2012, Acron failed with a near-half a billion euros bid for 66% of Grupa Azoty, then named Zaklady Azoty Tarnow (ZAT).

With officials briefing on the sidelines that Poland was wary of the potential effect of Russian energy policy on its strategic chemical and fertilizer companies, the treasury ministry headed off the bid by merging ZAT with fertilizer, melamine and caprolactam (capro) producer Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP) and restricting the voting power of shareholders on the board of the newly created Grupa Azoty.

By Will Conroy