Germany will nationalise Uniper in a historic move to rescue the country’s largest gas importer and avert a collapse of the energy sector in Europe’s biggest economy this winter.
The government in Berlin will inject 8 billion euros (about R140 billion) into the Dusseldorf-based utility via a capital increase at 1.70 euros per share, Finnish parent company Fortum Oyj said Wednesday in a statement. Uniper has accumulated 8.5 billion euros in gas-related losses after Russia cut off supplies to Europe, sending prices for alternative sources soaring.
“Under the current circumstances in the European energy markets and recognizing the severity of Uniper’s situation, the divestment of Uniper is the right step to take,” said Markus Rauramo, chief executive officer and president of Fortum.
As part of the deal, Germany will take full ownership of Uniper, buying Fortum’s controlling stake of around 78% for about 500 million euros, said Fortum, which is majority owned by the Finnish government. On completion of the deal, the German state will own approximately 98.5% of Uniper, it added.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition is determined to ensure Uniper’s survival in coming months, when the energy crunch could worsen as temperatures fall heading into winter.
Uniper has already been given a series of bailouts and rescue loans but those were quickly overtaken by the scale of the crisis and more robust state support is required.