Poland's Phone Co. Scurries To Privatize In Order To Enter EU

Eastern European economies are hastening to privatize state controlled businesses in order to speed their entry into the 15-nation European Union (EU). An end to state ownership is urgent because membership of EU is conditional on adoption by candidates of a competitive market economy. The biggest company of the former Communist domain to be put up for capitalist grabs is Poland's phone operator Telecommunikacja Polska SA (TPSA). A 35% slice now on sale is worth an estimated $US4 billion dollars. Other chunks of the company will go on the block later. Poland hopes to join the European economic and political group by 2003. The sale of TPSA is regarded in Warsaw, the Polish capital, as proof that the country is now fully converted to free enterprise. Main bidders for TPSA are France Telecom and Telecom Italia. French Rail also is an eager candidate to buy a chunk of Poland's rail system.

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