Uniper rises after EU approves bailout plan

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Investing.com — Uniper (ETR:UN01) stock surged in early trading in Frankfurt on Wednesday after the European Commission approved the German government’s rescue plan for the stricken energy giant.

The EU’s antitrust regulators had said last week that Berlin’s €34 billion (€1 = $1.0634) rescue plan could proceed, but with strict limitations on the company’s dealmaking and executive pay. Berlin will also have to present a credible pathway for the company to return to private ownership by the end of 2023 and reduce its stake in the company to no more than 25% by 2028.

The Commission added its formal approval on Tuesday. Uniper stock rose 4.0% by 04:30 ET (09:30 GMT).

“The measure aims at restoring the financial position and liquidity of Uniper in the exceptional situation caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the subsequent disruption of gas deliveries while maintaining the necessary safeguards to limit competition distortions,” the Commission’s statement said.

The German government had been forced to step in to rescue Uniper in the summer, after Moscow’s decision to stop shipments of natural gas forced it into unsustainable purchases of gas on the spot market to cover its commitments to clients. That drove wholesale gas prices in Europe to over €350 a megawatt-hour, resulting in massive losses for the company.

Uniper is an indispensable part of Germany’s energy infrastructure, providing gas to nearly half of the country’s local utilities. It also owns around a quarter of Germany’s gas storage capacity.

The Commission’s conditions effectively dismantle what was left of the global network of companies created by E.ON, before it split itself up in a complex deal with rival RWE in 2018. Uniper, which was until this year majority owned by Finland’s Fortum, will have to sell power stations such as Datteln 4 in Germany and Gönyű in Hungary, as well as its German district heating business, its North American power business, its stakes in the OPAL and BBL pipelines and its holdings in Latvian and Russian energy companies.

“We will do everything in our power to find the best owners for the assets and businesses to be sold. With the EU approval we have taken the last hurdle and now we know the conditions under which we will shape the future of Uniper,” Uniper Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said.