Uniper’s boss tells investors to back the German bailout or risk losing everything.
Uniper asked its shareholders in Germany to approve a bailout and nationalisation plan that will cost the government more than 50 billion euros ($53 billion). If they don’t, the company might have to think about going bankrupt.
Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said before an extraordinary meeting of shareholders on Monday that the chaos caused by the loss of gas supplies from Russia could mean that shareholders would get nothing if they did not agree to give Uniper to the German government.
Gazprom (MCX:GAZP) used to be Uniper’s biggest supplier, but after Russia invaded Ukraine, deliveries dropped a lot, so Uniper had to buy gas from other places at much higher prices to keep its contracts.
Related: Uniper takes out a 2 billion euro loan from the KfW.
“These steps are necessary for the future of this company,” Maubach is expected to say in a speech, the text of which was made public before the meeting at 1100 GMT.
“If approval isn’t given, we’d have to look very closely at our company’s “going concern” forecast,” he said. “The management board thinks that if the company goes out of business, shareholders could lose everything.”
If the bailout is approved, the German government will end up owning just below 99% of Uniper, Germany’s biggest gas trader, after two share issues. Uniper said on Monday that Germany’s Finance Ministry will be in charge of the stake.
Finland’s Fortum, which is currently the majority shareholder, will leave because of this, but it will keep the right to make an initial offer for Uniper’s Swedish nuclear and hydro assets by the end of 2026 if the company decides to sell those.
Uniper has no plans to do so right now.
The loss of Russian gas, which was Moscow’s response to Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine, caused the importer, which supplies about a third of Germany’s gas, to lose 40 billion euros. This was the largest loss in the history of German business.
($1 = 0.9450 euros)