Monday , 27 May 2024
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Global Economy

Bund joins Uniper

The energy group Uniper, which has come under massive pressure in the course of the gas crisis, is rescued. This was announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the company. According to this, the federal government is taking a stake of around 30 percent in the energy importer – the billion-dollar rescue means that the breakup of Uniper is off the table. In addition, the federal government grants the company further help – for example through higher loans from the state development bank KfW and through a so-called convertible bond.

"You will never walk alone"

Scholz explained that Uniper is of "outstanding importance" for Germany's economic development. The measures now agreed are a "substantial contribution to the rescue of the company". Uniper can now "look stable into the future".

However, gas customers will face price increases as part of the rescue package, because Uniper is allowed to pass on its additional costs from October 1st at the latest. Therefore, people with low incomes and recipients of basic security should be further relieved, promised Scholz.

One of the tools for this is a housing benefit reform that integrates heating costs. "It is crucial that we stick together," said the Chancellor: "You will never walk alone."

Ver.di praises, Greenpeace warns

The service union Ver.di welcomed the state entry. "This decision stabilizes the energy supply in Germany and Europe," explained Ver.di board member Christoph Schmitz. It is a "good day for the energy industry, security of supply and the employees at Uniper". The group and its employees could now continue the business restructuring.

In this context, Greenpeace warned that the federal government must influence the company's "detrimental climate policy decisions". "As a co-shareholder, the federal government must ensure that investments that are fueling the climate crisis and are not helping to alleviate the current energy crisis are stopped," said Manfred Santen of Greenpeace.

agreement is not surprising

The agreement between the federal government, Uniper and its Finnish parent company Fortum was generally expected – it had recently become known that majority shareholder Fortum had also given up its reservations about the rescue package. The Finns remain the majority shareholder even after the federal government has got involved – although their share has fallen from 80 to around 56 percent.

About two weeks ago, Uniper applied for state aid because the company, which plays a central role in German energy supply, has to buy more expensive gas on the market due to the throttling of Russian deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline so that it can fulfill its contracts with more than 100 municipal utilities and industry. This leads to liquidity problems.

Expected loss of billions

Meanwhile, Uniper gave figures on the expected economic loss: From June 14 to September 30 – i.e. until the group is allowed to pass on the additional costs – this will probably amount to 6.2 billion euros, said Uniper boss Klaus-Dieter Maubach. This assumption is based, among other things, on the current market prices and could still change, emphasized Maubach.

The group had already received loans of two billion euros from the state development bank KfW. However, this sum has already been fully used. Losses are now piling up every day, and rating agencies have already announced that they will reassess Uniper's creditworthiness. The creditworthiness is crucial for the future of the company, because a downgrade would make it more expensive to raise more money on the capital market.

Both Scholz and Economics Minister Robert Habeck have repeatedly emphasized how important the group is for Germany's energy security. "We will not allow a systemically important company to go bankrupt and as a result cause turbulence on the global energy market," said Habeck.

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