U.S. appliance maker Whirlpool (Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.) says it should decide by the end of March 2004 whether to build a 150 million euro (U.S. $185.6 million) white-goods plant in Poland, the country's foreign-investment agency said.
Sebastian Mikosz, deputy head of the PAIiIZ agency, said that Poland had proposed an expansion of Whirlpool's operations in the southwestern city of Wroclaw, where it already owns white-goods factory Polar.
Mr. Mikosz was speaking after Gillette signed a deal to invest 120 million euros (approx. U.S. $147.2 million) in a new shaver factory in central Poland, which officials say should help attract other investors.
"The next thing should be Whirlpool, who has promised us an answer in the last week of March about an investment worth around 150 million euros...the main competition appears to be the Czech Republic," Mr. Mikosz said.
Polish media have said Poland's other southern neighbor Slovakia is also in the running for the new factory, which would be for making washing machines, dishwashers, and gas stoves.
Mr. Mikosz said despite Poland's failure to snare big-ticket deals, attitudes were improving among corporate investors as Poland prepares to join the European Union (EU) in May 2004.
"I definitely see a change for the better in investor sentiment. The main problem has been that recently people have only been talking about Hyundai," he said.
"There are many smaller investments of a similar size to Gillette, or slightly smaller...from November we have certainly seen a revival of interest in Poland related to our entry into the European Union," Mr. Mikosz added.
PAIiIZ has said foreign direct investment amounted to about U.S. $6 billion in 2003 and should rise by one-third this year. (Reuters)
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