Germany to Take Major Stake in Giant Natural Gas Supplier Uniper Under Bailout Deal
The German government has agreed to take a 30% stake in Uniper SE with a capital infusion to bailout the giant utility, which has suffered from natural gas supply cuts and soaring prices.
Uniper’s CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach said the deal would preserve the company’s “system-critical” role for Germany’s energy supply. The country is the largest European importer of Russian natural gas.
The German government would provide a capital increase of $273 million to purchase shares and also provide up to $7.8 billion of convertible securities. The company’s largest shareholder, Finnish energy company Fortum Oyj, has agreed to dilute its stake from about 80% to 56%. Uniper noted that the government would have a significant role on the company’s board.
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“This ensures that Uniper can continue to reliably supply its customers, including numerous municipal utilities and industrial companies, with energy,” Maubach said. “We now have a clear perspective on how the costs which arise due to the interrupted gas supplies from Russia can be shared by many shoulders going forward.”
Uniper asked for a bailout earlier this month. The company is Germany’s largest utility and a major casualty of Europe’s unfolding energy crisis. Energy providers across Europe have fallen and debt levels have ballooned as prices have soared in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has limited spot natural gas shipments since last year, reduced deliveries on Nord Stream 1 to just 40% of capacity and halted deliveries altogether for some European Union buyers.
Uniper recently exhausted its $2 billion credit line from German state-owned lender KfW Group and it has started withdrawing gas from storage to avoid buying costly fuel on the spot market.
Under the bailout, Uniper’s credit line is also being expanded to $9.2 billion. The government also intends to allow all gas importers to pass through 90% of replacement costs for Russian supply shortfalls beginning Oct. 1. The mechanism would essentially allow costs to be passed onto consumers.
While NS1 recently resumed limited deliveries after 10 days of maintenance, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of further supply cuts. He said if equipment that has not been delivered for the system due to Western sanctions against the country doesn’t arrive by next week, deliveries would drop to 20% of capacity.
Gazprom PJSC said in a statement Friday that efforts continue to return the missing NS1 equipment to Russia for installation. The company said, however, that it is under no contractual obligation to obtain the missing parts from Siemens AG, which made the repairs, or the governments involved in returning the equipment.
The 745-mile, twin pipeline that moves gas from Siberia across the Baltic Sea to Germany is one of the largest conduits for sending natural gas to Europe. At full capacity, it can move about 6 Bcf/d.
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