Germany buys shares: gas importer Uniper is nationalized

The Finnish energy supplier Fortum will sell all of its shares in Uniper to Germany.

Germany buys shares: gas importer Uniper is nationalized

The Finnish energy supplier Fortum will sell all of its shares in Uniper to Germany. Against the background of the Russian gas supply stop, the federal government will thus become the majority shareholder in Germany's largest gas importer.

The federal government, the energy company Uniper and the former Uniper majority owner Fortum have agreed on the extensive nationalization of Uniper. A corresponding stabilization package for Uniper has already been signed, as the company announced in Düsseldorf. It provides for a capital increase and the acquisition of Fortum's Uniper shares, Fortum reported. The federal government will then own around 98.5 percent of the shares in Uniper.

The state-owned KfW-Bank will provide Uniper with funds according to its liquidity needs, Uniper further reported. This also includes the replacement of a credit line from Fortum, which consists of a shareholder loan of four billion euros and a so-called guarantee line of four billion euros. The stabilization measures are still subject to change. Approvals from the EU Commission are still pending. An extraordinary Uniper general meeting is to decide on the measures in the fourth quarter of 2022. Fortum currently holds almost 78 percent of Uniper. Fortum itself is almost 51 percent owned by the Finnish state.

In July, the federal government, Uniper and Fortum had already agreed on a rescue package worth billions. It had already provided for a minority participation by the federal government. On September 14, Uniper announced that the talks about the stabilization package were also examining a capital increase that would lead to a "significant majority stake" by the federal government in Uniper.

Uniper is in trouble because Russia is no longer pumping gas to Germany. The gas wholesaler is a supplier to over 100 municipal utilities and large companies and thus plays a central role in Germany's natural gas supply. The company now has to buy the missing gas from Russia on the gas market at a high price. Uniper recently spoke of daily losses of over 100 million euros.

In the past, the federal government has supported companies financially on several occasions, for example in the Corona crisis of the airline Lufthansa or the travel provider Tui. Under the pressure of the financial crisis, the state took a stake in Commerzbank in early 2009. Observers assume that the Uniper takeover by the federal government is the largest rescue operation for a single company in German history.

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