Polish government to allow full privatisation of LOT

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Poland's government is adopting a new law which will allow the state to sell its entire stake in troubled flag-carrier LOT.

The carrier is majority-owned by the Polish treasury but the change will allow the sale of all shares to a strategic investor.

Prime minister Donald Tusk, confirming the plan in a speech, described the airline as needing "special care". He added that LOT had to be privatised if the state was not to throw public funds into a "bottomless well".

The prime minister's office says that a rational private investor would be more interested in acquiring full control of a company, and that the change would repeal legislation preventing a complete sale.

Adopting the new regulation, it adds, means the government will be in a "stronger" negotiating position.

During a debate on LOT's financial predicament on 22 March, treasury minister Mikolaj Budzanowski assured that an external investor would not detract from LOT's identity as the Polish national airline.

Civic Platform member Tadeusz Aziewicz supported the privatisation notion, suggesting that opponents had been unnecessarily fearful of the process.

He pointed out that airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France had not lost their prestige and reputation through privatisation but rather become "stronger and better-prepared for severe competition".

But Aziewicz also expressed concern that LOT would be unable to find an investor quickly, because of its losses.