The Finnish owner, Uniper, wants to sell the crisis business to the federal government | News

– by Matthias Inverardi

Dsseldorf (Reuters) – The Finnish parent company of energy supplier Uniper wants to hand over its run-down German gas business to the federal government.

“From our point of view, it must now be a question of connecting the vulnerable and systemically important areas of Uniper and their lasting security,” Markus Rauramo, head of the Finnish state-controlled energy group Fortum, told Reuters on Saturday. “We have to assume that gas supply problems will continue in the medium term and prices will remain high or will continue to rise,” he added. “Therefore, the German parts of the company that are critical to the system should be placed under the control of the state, which has the necessary creditworthiness.” His proposal is also supported by “the fact that Uniper’s international business (…) does not have to be taken over, accounted for and financed by the state.” Overall, Fortum wants “a targeted business solution that requires as little government support as possible.”

Uniper, Germany’s largest gas trade, got into trouble due to cuts in supplies by the Russian company Gazprom. The Fortum Group is the majority shareholder of Uniper and in turn is largely owned by the Finnish government. This supported the plans. “Saving Uniper is a matter of European importance,” said European Minister Tytti Tuppurainen. “We support Fortum’s proposal to save Uniper.” The minister emphasized that it was “about the future of two companies that are irreplaceable for the security of supplies in domestic markets”. Therefore, a long-term, viable solution is needed: “We urgently call for the reorganization and state security of the endangered, systemically critical Uniper branches in Germany.”

HABECK: UNIPER OWNER IS OBLIGED

For his part, Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck has made the Finnish majority owner responsible for saving Uniper. It cannot be said that just because Uniper belongs to someone else, you are completely sticking to it – said Deutschlandfunk, a Green politician before the statements of the Fortum boss. But it also applies: “It belongs to someone who is solvent and can provide support. And that’s why it’s worth thinking about models where the owners also have a responsibility. “

According to the plans of the Finns, who own about 80 percent. Uniper, the import of coal, gas and gas in Germany may fall to the benefit of the state. It has already been said in German government circles that Fortum wants to move the loss-making German business and continue to run the rest of the group. You have to look at it very carefully.

However, Rauramo stressed that Fortum has already provided Uniper with significant financial support. “Since the crisis began, Fortum Uniper has provided eight billion euros in loans and guarantees, which have also been largely used,” he said. “We take our responsibility as owners very seriously and are therefore looking for a solution that will not only stabilize Uniper financially in the short term.” Fortum aims to “put the company on a sound foundation in the long term.” It would also secure the positions of employees who are to remain at Uniper after the restructuring. “A successful energy transition requires companies that can invest a lot in the future,” he added.

UNIPER SHOWS MILLIONS A DAY

Due to supply cuts in Russia, Uniper has to buy gas on the expensive spot market to meet its supply obligations and is therefore suffering losses. “Under the current conditions, Uniper is experiencing daily outflows in the mid-double-digit range of millions,” Uniper CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach complained on Friday. “A situation we cannot endure for long.” The group of approximately 11,500 employees has applied to the federal government for stabilization measures. Thanks to the new legal regulations, state support measures are possible, including capital participation. According to Maubach, Uniper and Fortum are talking separately to the federal government – but a joint solution must be found.

(Edited by Jrn Poltz. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our editorial team at berlin.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com (for politics and economics) or frankfurt.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com (for companies and markets).)

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