Dhe badly hit largest German gas importer Uniper is calling for the state to step in to save the company. Immediately after the new Energy Security Act (ENSIG) was passed, the Group submitted an application to the federal government for stabilization measures. It is about a “relevant participation of the federal government”, said the chairman of the board Klaus-Dieter Maubach. “This is now the path we are ready to take.”
Because of the Russian supply cuts, Uniper has to procure gas elsewhere at extremely high prices in order to fulfill its contracts with industrial customers, municipal utilities and power plant operators. Because Uniper has so far been unable to pass on the additional costs, the company is in danger of running out of money. The procurement of a replacement costs an average double-digit million amount every day. “We can’t keep that up for long,” said Maubach.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) promised help. “We will not allow a systemically important company to go bankrupt and the global energy market to experience turbulence as a result,” he said in Berlin. Various stabilization options would be examined. At the same time as Uniper, the Finnish parent company Fortum, which owns 78 percent of the shares, is also negotiating with the federal government. It is about the establishment of a “supply security company” in which the “system-critical German business activities” are to be bundled in order to transfer them to the ownership of the federal government.
“Counterproductive for the gas supply”
The Uniper employee side is opposed to the plans of the Finnish major shareholder Fortum. “We opposed the takeover of Fortum right from the start because we feared the company would be broken up at the expense of the German locations and employees. Today it seems to be going in that direction after all,” said Harald Seegatz, Chairman of the Group Works Council, to the FAZ
The proposal is also counterproductive for the gas supply. Such a corporate reorganization with the carve-out of German sub-companies like the one proposed by Fortum “could block the ability of the company to function in the middle of the energy and gas crisis. Nobody can want that,” warned Seegatz. “For the stability of the company and thus the gas supply, we need a majority stake from the federal government. If the federal government has to absorb the company, it must also be given the say over the future course.”
From the employees’ point of view, the group should remain as a unit. Uniper not only owns the gas business, but also a wide range of electricity production, including nuclear power plants in Sweden and gas and coal in Russia and other European countries. Uniper is also one of the largest LNG traders and is currently building a floating terminal for import ships. “Uniper is regional and very broadly positioned in its business areas for good reason. This diversity brings stability,” said Seegatz.
Leave a Reply