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CEO of Poland's Polska Press quits after takeover by state-run refiner

WARSAW, March 2 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Polish regional newspaper publisher Polska Press has quit following its purchase by state-run oil refiner PKN Orlen, a takeover the opposition sees as part of efforts by the ruling party to assert control over the media.

Polska Press said in a statement released on Tuesday that CEO Dorota Stanek had submitted her resignation after PKN Orlen completed its takeover of the group from Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Passau.

PKN Orlen describes the deal as just a business transaction, but opposition political parties have portrayed it as part of a wider project by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party to tighten control of the media in the European Union member state.

PiS lawmakers have said foreign media companies have too much influence in Poland.

“On March 1, the contract for the purchase of Polska Press by PKN ORLEN was signed. This means that PKN ORLEN is the formal owner of Polska Press,” Polska Press said.

“At the same time, the Chief Executive Dorota Stanek is leaving the management board as she submitted her resignation.”

PKN Orlen was not immediately available for comment.

The refiner announced its plans to buy Polska Press in December. The media group publishes 20 regional dailies, about 100 local weeklies, several magazines and Naszemiasto.pl, a free city newspaper, according to its website.

The takeover adds to a list of M&A deals announced by PKN Orlen under the management of Chief Executive Daniel Obajtek, who has been publicly praised by PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The European Commission, the EU executive, has expressed concern over media freedom in Poland. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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