Polish state-owned giants seek to take over national daily

The state-owned oil and gas firm PKN Orlen has denied that it is in talks to take over Gremi Media, publisher of the national newspaper Rzeczpospolita and the capital markets daily Parkiet.

On Monday, news portal wirtualnemedia.pl reported that PKN Orlen was in talks, along with insurance company PZU, to take over the publisher.

Quoting unofficial information, the portal stated Orlen was much more interested in taking over Gremi Media than PZU owing to its previous acquisitions of media companies.

But in a Monday press release, Orlen said it had no plans to acquire Gremi Media.

"PKN Orlen is not conducting any talks concerning a takeover of Gremi Media," Joanna Zakrzewska, a spokeswoman for the oil and gas conglomerate said on Twitter.

"The company is currently focusing on the development of the already-owned assets that support our sales," she added.

Rumours of a takeover had fuelled concerns in Poland over the state of media freedom. Critics claim that public television and radio are used to promote the government, while Orlen's recent takeover of Polska Press, a local newspaper group, led to accusations that the government was using state assets to purchase, and then silence, critical local media.

PKN Orlen also owns press distributor Ruch.

"They plan to consolidate Gremi Media with Polska Press in one single media conglomerate supporting the government," wirtualnemedia.pl's source has said.

According to earlier unofficial information, Poland's leading online portal Wirtualna Polska has withdrawn from negotiations to acquire Gremi Media.