European Commission - Press release
State aid: Commission scrutinises state funding of purchasers of Polish shipyards' assets
Brussels, 25 January 2012 - The European Commission opens formal inquiries into public support for two purchasers of assets of the Gdynia shipyard, which is under liquidation. Possible aid granted to these purchasers will be scrutinised in light of EU state aid rules.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President responsible for competition, said: “We welcome the fact that the shipyard asset buyers want to continue shipbuilding activities in Gdynia. We have made it clear, however, that no new state aid should be granted. We are opening formal investigations to determine whether certain purchasers have benefited from public support on terms more favourable than market conditions. Poland and third parties will be able to comment and verify this together with the European Commission.”
In November 2008, the European Commission concluded that state aid granted, notably to Stocznia Gdynia S.A. ("the Gdynia shipyard"), owned in majority by the State Treasury, breached European state aid rules and had to be repaid. The Polish authorities committed to sell the yard's assets through open, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional tenders and subsequently liquidate the Gdynia shipyard. The Commission made clear that no additional state aid should be granted and that the assets must be purchased under market conditions (see IP/08/1642).
The new state aid investigations concern financial support given by the public Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu S.A. (Industrial Development Agency, or "IDA") to two Polish shipyards, which purchased assets of the Gdynia shipyard. On completion of the second tendering round, Nauta S.A. Repair Shipyard ("Nauta") bought three asset bundles of the Gdynia shipyard. In consideration for financing Nauta's purchase transaction, IDA subscribed to bonds issued by Nauta. These bonds should have been redeemed from IDA with the proceeds of the sale of land on which Nauta is currently operating. Until now, Nauta has still not sold this land and can therefore not redeem the bonds subscribed by IDA. IDA consequently agreed with Nauta to prolong the redemption of bonds until November 2013 under new conditions. The Commission considers that there are two possible State aid measures in favour of Nauta: the first measure consists of IDA's support to Nauta in consideration for bonds issued by Nauta and the second concerns the prolongation of the period to redeem the bonds. IDA also granted a loan to CRIST S.A. ("CRIST"), thereby financing the purchase of a dry dock under the third tendering round.
The Commission has doubts whether a market investor would have funded Nauta and CRIST under the same conditions as those under which IDA provided financing to the two companies. It has, therefore, opened formal investigations procedures to allow Poland and third parties to submit comments in order to verify these points.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under case numbers SA.33113 and SA 33114 in the State Aid Register on DG Competition's website, once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the Internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the "State aid Weekly e-News"