Germany Is Nationalizing Uniper, Its Leading Importer of Russian Natural Gas

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Germany is nationalizing Uniper, its leading importer of Russian natural gas, in a deal that underlines Europe’s energy crisis.

Uniper announced Wednesday the German government take over a 99% stake in the firm , having purchased a 30% holding in July as part of a 15 billion euro ($14.9 billion) bailout. The latest deal will involve a capital raise that aims to provide a further 8 billion euros in cash for Uniper, the company said.

Uniper has been grappling with economic mayhem after Moscow halted its gas supply to Europe in response to Western sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine. European natural gas prices have blasted above 300% this year, with Dutch TTF futures, the continent’s benchmark price, up 7.2% to 208.40 euros per megawatt-hour on the ICE exchange early Wednesday.

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The supply squeeze and resulting price jump means Uniper has been forced to buy natural gas at higher prices. 

“At Uniper, we are aware of our responsibility for Germany and Europe,” Uniper CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach said in a statement Wednesday. “We are committed to doing our part to overcome this crisis and to restructure the energy supply in this country.”

Germany will purchase state-owned Finnish utility Fortum’s stake in Uniper for about 500 million euros. Fortum will also be repaid a 4 billion loan to Uniper.

Fortum CEO Markus Rauramo said in a statement: “The role of gas in Europe has fundamentally changed since Russia attacked Ukraine, and so has the outlook for a gas-heavy portfolio. As a result, the business case for an integrated group is no longer viable.”

Uniper stock was down 36% to 2.73 euros in Frankfurt, and Fortum stock was up 9.2% to 13.21 euros in Helsinki, at 7 a.m. ET.