September 5, 2018 / 2:55 PM / 13 days ago

Poland joins Spanish owner CAF at wheel of top bus maker

KRYNICA ZDROJ, Poland (Reuters) - Poland said on Wednesday it was taking a 35 percent stake in the country’s biggest bus manufacturer Solaris Bus & Coach as part of its efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Solaris, Poland’s largest maker of electric buses, was bought on Tuesday by Spanish train maker CAF in a deal valuing it at around 300 million euros.

The investment by state-owned fund PFR is the latest transaction where the Polish state has bought holdings back from foreign investors, including banks, shipyard, and energy assets. The PFR deal assumes that Solaris production remains in Poland.

“With the participation of the Polish investment fund as a minority shareholder, CAF maintains the Polish roots of Solaris, while establishing an alliance with a strong financial partner to address the company’s ambitious growth plan,” CAF said.

Poland’s government, which is run by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, says that the European Union’s largest former communist country is too dependant on foreign investors, who bought into Polish assets in the 1990s and 2000s.

However, PFR head Pawel Borys said that the aim of the deal was to achieve the government’s strategy of cutting CO2 emissions in Poland, which is to host the COP24 meeting in December aimed at ensuring full implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“Poland wants to introduce in its cities a low-emission transport, so we wanted to have a say in the strategy of the firm, that is the biggest producer of such vehicles in Poland,” Borys told Reuters on the sidelines of an economic forum.

Coal-reliant Poland is also struggling to improve air quality in its cities.

The European Union’s top court said in February that Poland had failed to uphold air quality standards, part of a wider EU battle to reduce deaths from airborne pollution which it estimates kills 400,000 people every year.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Alexander Smith

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