Mika Lintilä (Centre), the minister responsible for ownership steering, says he has no intention whatsoever to intervene in an offer announced by Fortum for a minority stake in Uniper, an energy company based in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Tuesday.
“Fortum’s management has assessed that this is the best overall option,” he stated at the Finnish Parliament on Thursday.
“[The state] must be a responsible shareholder – also with respect to other shareholders. This will strengthen the dividend-paying ability of Fortum,” he explained, assuring that no changes will be introduced to the strategy of the state-owned energy utility.
The Finnish government owns roughly 51 per cent of shares in Fortum.
The offer came under criticism especially due to the marked differences in the power-generation portfolios of Fortum and Uniper: the former relies largely on hydro- and nuclear power – both of which account for roughly a third of its power generation capacity – and the latter mostly on coal and natural gas.
Satu Hassi (Greens) reminded that the government published its medium-term climate programme as recently as last week, reiterating its intention to take steps towards a carbon-neutral Finland. Fortum, she added, contrastively announced it is about to acquire an energy company that produces 80 per cent of its energy with fossil fuels.
“Fortum is now about to acquire a junk division of sorts, the operations of which are based on accelerating climate change and which indisputably represents outgoing forms of energy,” she said.
Fortum on Tuesday announced it has signed an agreement with Eon for acquiring 46.7 per cent of shares in Uniper at the beginning of 2018 for 3.8 billion euros. The acquisition would, if completed, trigger an automatic takeover bid worth an estimated 8 billion euros as it would see Fortum acquire more than 30 per cent of shares in Uniper.
“I am confident that our investment will strengthen the position of both companies to advance Europe’s energy transition and believe that all stakeholders will greatly benefit,” Pekka Lundmark, the chief executive of Fortum, said in a press release.
Fortum, he stressed, has not abandoned its goal of promoting the transition to greener sources of energy.
“Fortum is absolutely committed to work for a cleaner Europe. To make this vision a reality we must also provide customers with a secure energy supply at a competitive price during the transition towards lower emissions. Conventional energy, especially gas, can respond to the increasing intermittent renewable production, providing the flexibility needed to ensure supply in geographies where sufficient hydropower resources are not available,” he argued.
Uniper’s management is opposed to the takeover bid, according to the Financial Times.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi