The German state will become the majority owner of the country’s largest gas importer, Uniper, the government in Berlin decided. With this, the government aims to address the energy crisis caused by Russia’s decision to stop gas supplies.
Until now, Uniper’s largest owner was the Finnish Fortum. He announced today that Berlin will invest eight billion euros in Uniper, and will buy Fortum’s ownership stake for another 500 million euros. Thus, the German state will become about 98.5% owner of Uniper.
Uniper, which was established on January 1, 2016, employs 11,000 people in more than 40 countries, around a third in Germany. It is based in Düsseldorf. The company was among the financiers of the Nord Stream 2 project, which was stopped by Germany after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement to the media, the German Ministry of Economy emphasized the necessity of nationalizing the company. “Uniper is a central pillar of Germany’s energy supply,” they emphasized. “With today’s approved majority takeover, the government secures important decision-making and control rights with which it will be able to ensure the security of supply in Germany,” they added.
The takeover will otherwise be possible only after various regulatory requirements have been met and with the consent of Uniper’s general assembly. The rescue package will also have to be approved by the European Commission.
Russia halted the flow of gas to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline weeks ago, saying it needed repairs that could not be carried out due to Western sanctions.
Russia: As long as there are sanctions, there will be no gas
After the interruption of gas supplies, Uniper found itself in financial difficulties, as it must continue to provide customers with the agreed quantities of this energy product. However, he now has to buy it from the markets at much higher prices.
The German government has already provided Uniper with financial support, but the situation has worsened to the point that without a rescue package, the company would have ended up in bankruptcy.