TP SA gets a setback in battle for Wirtualna Polska

6 May 2005

Minority shareholders in Poland’s second largest internet portal Wirtualna Polska (WP), dealt TP SA a bloody nose this week, securing a ‘landmark’ ruling in a multi-million dollar dispute with the incumbent. WP’s co-founder Jacek Kawalec told the Warsaw Business Journal that the court decision ‘sustains our case that our claim should be honoured by TP SA and they should not simply be allowed to walk away from an agreement that doesn’t suit them.’ The national PTO holds an indirect 80% stake in WP, but has become embroiled in controversy ever since it attempted to enforce an option forcing minority shareholders to sell their shares to TP SA. Indeed, the incumbent incurred widespread criticism from its erstwhile partners in WP after it ran the portal to the brink of bankruptcy in a bid to reduce the value of the company’s shares. However, the shareholders countered by citing another stipulation requiring TP SA to buy out minority shareholders for USD58 million if it launched a rival portal. Yesterday’s ruling relates to a claim from minority shareholders that the incumbent has in fact launched a rival in the shape of neostrada.pl, which TP SA says is simply a service.