The Daily Telegraph

Berlin in talks to nationalis­e stricken energy giant Uniper

- By James Warrington

GERMAN ministers are in talks to nationalis­e the struggling energy giant Uniper in a bid to steer the country’s energy system away from collapse.

Germany’s biggest gas importer was handed a support package worth €19bn (£16.4bn) in July, but already needs more help as the energy crisis deepens.

Uniper said: “The parties are looking into alternativ­e solutions, inter alia a straight equity increase that would result in a significan­t majority participat­ion by the German government.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government took a 30pc stake in Uniper as part of the rescue deal agreed with the company and its Finnish parent Fortum over the summer.

At the time, Klaus-dieter Maubach, chief executive, said Berlin could end up increasing its stake to more than 50pc. Uniper said no decisions had yet been taken. Shares in the company dropped as much as 20pc to an all-time low, wiping almost €350m off its market valuation.

A surge in wholesale gas prices and Vladimir Putin’s supply cuts have triggered millions of losses for Uniper as it was forced to replace lost supplies at sky-high prices.

The crisis pushed the company to a loss of €12.3bn for the first half of the year, leaving it teetering on the brink of collapse. Uniper has already secured €13bn of credit lines from the state, most of which it has already drawn.

It asked the government for more help last month, raising the bill for its bailout to €19bn.

The deepening crisis raises the possibilit­y of a full nationalis­ation by Berlin. Such a move would also require the support of Fortum, which is still in talks with the company alongside Germany’s economy ministry. Harald Seegatz, head of Uniper’s workers’ council and its deputy supervisor­y board chairman, said it would welcome the government taking a majority stake, citing the security that would provide.

Any move to nationalis­e Uniper would follow similar events in France as Europe struggles to shore up energy supplies and keep prices under control.

Emmanuel Macron’s government is poised to pay almost €10bn to fully nationalis­e France’s power giant EDF.

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