No layoffs, no interference in Polska Press assures new owner

The president of PKN Orlen has said there will be no layoffs and political interference at a publishing house the state-owned fuel giant has recently acquired.

Orlen’s purchase of the Polska Press, which owns 20 leading regional newspapers, 120 weekly magazines and about 500 portals, has raised concerns in Poland that the government may be using state-controlled assets to purchase independent press publications in order to silence them. This has been denied by Orlen’s CEO, who has also asserted that people will keep their jobs.

"There are no planned layoffs among Polska Press employees," Daniel Obajtek said during a Thursday meeting with representatives of the Inter-Union Trade Union Commission in Polska Press.

"PKN Orlen as the owner will abide by the rules reflecting press law, and does not intend to interfere with the journalistic content published in the titles brought out by Polska Press," Obajtek was quoted in Orlen's press release as saying.

Meanwhile, an anti-monopoly court has decided to suspend the execution of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection's (UOKiK) approval of the acquisition of Polska Press by Orlen.

In a motion at the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection, Adam Bodnar, the state’s ombudsman, asked for a waiver of UOKiK's permit, arguing that Orlen, as a state company, could use its ownership of Polska Press to put the publishing house under political pressure.

Daniel Obajtek said on Tuesday that the court's ruling was irrelevant and would not affect the acquisition of Polska Press since the deal had been finalised on March 1, 2021, before the court's decision had been made.

In early February, UOKiK officially approved the takeover.

PKN Orlen, the largest oil company in Poland, has already taken over Ruch, a company which distributes press and has retail services, mainly through a network of kiosks.