Germany nationalizes Uniper to protect energy security

Berlin – German Government announced Wednesday It will nationalize Uniper, the country’s largest importer of Russian gas, expanding state intervention to prevent energy shortages due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The move builds on a 15 billion-euro bailout package from the end of July aimed at stabilizing the gas giant, which supplies 40 percent of Germany’s gas usage. With an additional capital increase of 8 billion euros, the German government will now own 99% of the company.

The deal still needs to be approved by the European Commission.

Germany’s economic affairs and climate minister, Robert Habeck, said on Wednesday the step was necessary as conditions had changed over the past few weeks. The situation has worsened, he said, especially after Russia stopped all gas deliveries through the Nord Stream pipeline in early September.

“This decision,” he told a news conference, “is to ensure the security of German supplies.”

Uniper, one of Europe’s largest gas companies, has struggled in the wake of the turmoil in energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company, which imports about 50 percent of its gas from Russia, announced a loss of 12 billion euros in the first half of 2022 due to reduced deliveries.

Uniper’s chief executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said nationalisation was necessary as the situation deteriorated, promising the company would “do its part to overcome the energy crisis”.

For months, the German government has firmly vowed to support Uniper as the company play a key role in in the country’s energy infrastructure. “We will not endanger Germany’s energy security by allowing a systemically relevant company like Uniper to fail,” Habeck said in July. “Russian man-made energy shortages are not normal fluctuations that the market can digest.”

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