FINLAND will require compensation to sign off on the mooted nationalisation of Uniper, Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP) said to Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday.
“It’s important for us that Uniper returns the eight-billion-euro funding package to Fortum,” she stated.
Uniper, a natural gas-reliant subsidiary of Finland's Fortum, has confirmed that it will require support in addition to the 15-billion-euro stabilisation package thrashed out in July.
Bloomberg on Wednesday reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, that one of the arrangements discussed in the ongoing negotiations would move the majority of shares in the faltering company under the control of the German government. The German government, the news agency added, is also “open to taking the historic step of fully nationalising the country’s biggest gas importer to prevent a collapse of the energy system”.
The arrangement would further undermine the standing of Fortum at Uniper. The German government took up a 30-per-cent stake in the energy company as part of the stabilisation package.
Both Fortum and Uniper confirmed that the negotiations are ongoing in a stock exchange release on Wednesday.
“Due to the increased uncertainties in the operating environment, the parties are also looking into alternative solutions, inter alia a straight equity increase that would result in a significant majority participation by the German government in Uniper,” said Uniper.
The Finnish majority state-owned energy company pointed out in its release that since the stabilisation agreement was signed Russia has completely halted the supply of natural gas to Germany through Nord Stream 1. Both gas and power prices have additionally remained extremely volatile.
“Due to the increased uncertainties in the operating environment, the parties are also looking into alternative solutions,” it told. “No decisions beyond what was agreed in the stabilisation package in July have been made.”
Tuppurainen on Wednesday similarly reminded that currently the only valid agreement is the one Fortum, Uniper and German government made in July.
Uniper has drifted to the brink of insolvency due to the limited supply of affordable natural gas from Russia. The company estimated in the summer that it is incurring daily losses of 50–100 million euros because it has to procure the gas from alternative sources at higher prices. An analyst at Credit Suisse estimated recently that the daily losses have risen to 130 million euros following the complete discontinuation of gas deliveries from Russia in September.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT