Iconic Czech steelworks goes under the hammer with Poldi prospects unclear
Poldi’s famous steelworks on the outskirts of Prague has been auctioned off to a foreign buyer. The move has sparked hopes amid continuing uncertainty what its future could be.
The winning offer came in at 261 million crowns after two bidders slugged it out for around half an hour with cautious half million crown increases on the original minimum reserve price of 160 million crowns. The package of property and assets up for grabs was estimated to be worth 180 million crowns.
The top bid came in from Stanislav Kraslavski, who according to details submitted to the auctioneers is a French citizen living in the Lugano region of Switzerland.
The steelworks at Kladno, just outside Prague, has been in insolvency since the end of last year with wages unpaid to the around 150 workers. Steel production had temporarily restarted at the beginning of the year but was quickly stalled when the previous owners were submerged in debts and a reorganisation plan and search for a new investor failed to emerge.
Kraslavski, according to his Facebook page was born in Ukraine, and required an interpreter for the Prague auction. He reluctantly gave some details about his plans in French when asked about his steel production background:
ʺLook, it is not just about steel producers in the world. There is the willingness and possibility to work and there is the market. It’s the market which allows you to become a producer. The phrase producer of steel is a much ado about nothing. We are counting on producing steel and making a profits. That’s why we’re here. We believe in this project otherwise it would be madness. The other bidder was just bluffing.ʺ
Through his interpreter, Kraslavski said that he hoped to restart production at Poldi as soon as possible. But he also cautioned that everyone is ‘a slave of the market’ and was unwilling to specify when the former workforce might be rehired or added to.
News of the auction purchase appear to have created mixed emotions with some hoping for a rebirth of the famous plant but others doubtful whether it has a future.