Energy: Federal majority in gas importer Uniper in talks

In the efforts to stabilize Germany's most important gas importer Uniper, according to the company, increased involvement by the federal government is under discussion.

Energy: Federal majority in gas importer Uniper in talks

In the efforts to stabilize Germany's most important gas importer Uniper, according to the company, increased involvement by the federal government is under discussion.

Due to the increased uncertainty, those involved are examining, among other things, "a direct capital increase that would lead to a significant majority stake in Uniper by the federal government," as Uniper announced on Wednesday. However, no decisions have been made beyond the July stabilization package.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economics did not comment on the announcement. "As you know, we are in talks with Uniper. We are now holding these talks and are not speculating," she said when asked. More information could not be given at the moment.

Already a rescue package worth billions

Uniper is in trouble because Russia is practically no longer pumping gas to Germany, but the company has to fulfill its long-term contracts and buys the missing gas expensively on the market. The pipeline gas from Russia was comparatively cheap. Because of the delivery stop, the prices have now multiplied.

In July, the federal government, Uniper and its Finnish parent company Fortum agreed on a rescue package worth billions, which also provides for the federal government to contribute 30 percent. Fortum currently holds around three quarters of Uniper's shares. Fortum recently also held talks about possible financial aid with the government in Helsinki, which holds more than 50 percent of the Finnish group.

"Since the signing of the stabilization agreement, the European energy crisis has worsened as no Russian gas volumes are currently being delivered through Nord Stream 1 and both gas and electricity prices are very high and volatile," Uniper explained. Therefore, the losses have increased significantly since July. The environment and the financial situation would be taken into account in the talks about a long-term solution.

Uniper Chairman: "Germany needs Uniper"

The chairman of the Uniper group works council, Harald Seegatz, would welcome it if the federal government actually got involved with a majority: "That would be the right step to stabilize the company," he told the "Rheinische Post". With around 5,000 employees in Germany alone, Uniper is systemically important for the energy supply and needs permanent support. "Germany needs Uniper, and Uniper needs the state." In a letter to the federal government, employee representatives had already asked for a majority takeover.

Most recently, a credit line from the state development bank KfW was extended for Uniper. Uniper declared at the end of August that the existing credit line of EUR 9 billion had been exhausted.

The KfW loans were only intended to bridge Uniper's financial needs until the group can pass on most of its increased costs to its customers through the planned gas levy.

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