The German government could increase its stake in the gas supplier Uniper

BERLIN (AP) — German energy supplier Uniper said Wednesday it is exploring the possibility of the government acquiring a majority stake in the company as its losses mount, a jump from the roughly 30% stake. that the State has already undertaken to take.

The government set up rescue package in July after Russia’s natural gas supply cuts forced Uniper to buy gas at much higher market prices to fulfill its supply contracts. As the the energy crisis drives up pricesthe Executive Commission of the European Union has proposed measures to help householdsin particular by tapping into the extraordinary profits of electricity producers.

Uniper is majority owned by Finnish company Fortum, in which the Finnish government has the largest stake.

Uniper said in a statement that “due to the growing uncertainties in the operating environment, the parties are also exploring alternative solutions”, including “a direct equity increase which would result in a significant majority stake by the German government in Uniper”.

He added that no decision had yet been made beyond the July bailout.

It includes a capital increase of around 267 million euros signed by the German government alone and an additional 7.7 billion euros via a tool that provides equity by issuing company shares – depending on cash flow needs. from Uniper. An existing €2 billion credit facility from German public development bank KfW was increased to €9 billion.

The government has also decided to introduce a new natural gas levy, aimed at saving importers hard hit by Russian cuts linked to the war in Ukraine. He then moved to lower value added tax on gas from 19% to 7% until the end of March 2024 in order to offset the effect of the surcharge.

Russian Gazprom began to cut gas deliveries to Germany via the main Nord Stream 1 pipeline in mid-June, citing alleged technical problems and the effect of Western sanctions. German officials dismissed that explanation as an excuse for a policy move aimed at creating uncertainty and driving up prices.

Russia, which before the cuts accounted for just over a third of Germany’s gas supplies, has since halted deliveries via Nord Stream 1 altogether.

Due to this shutdown and extremely high and volatile gas and electricity prices in Europe, Uniper said its “financial losses due to rising gas supply costs have increased significantly”.

In a separate move last week, VNG gas importer also requested assistance from the German government.

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James R. Rhodes