Germany will help Uniper – that much is certain. But what exactly this help looks like is still unclear. Economics Minister Habeck also wants to make the owners responsible.

After the application by the struggling gas supplier Uniper for state stabilization measures, it is still unclear exactly what these will look like. Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck also wants to make the owners responsible for the rescue of the company. “It belongs to someone, also someone who is solvent and who can provide support,” the Greens politician told Deutschlandfunk.

The main shareholder of Uniper is the Finnish energy supplier Fortum, which holds around 80 percent of the share capital, and which in turn belongs to the Finnish state with just over 50 percent. Fortum proposed a restructuring of Uniper on Friday – with the aim of founding a security of supply company owned by the federal government. “We believe that a reorganization of Uniper’s business portfolio, i.e. a bundling of the system-critical German business areas, can best solve the acute problems in the long term,” said Fortum CFO Bernhard Günther.

A decision for concrete measures by the federal government at Uniper had not yet been made on Friday, according to information from government circles. A multi-billion dollar investment by the federal government in Uniper via a stake in equity is possible. However, a mix with the possibility of Uniper passing on high gas price increases to customers is also conceivable.

Habeck said the federal government would choose the option that was the best and cheapest for the German taxpayer and the safest for security of supply. “We can’t say that just because something belongs to someone else, we stay completely out of it. I have a responsibility for energy security in Germany and you have to face it, »he told Deutschlandfunk. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had also promised Uniper support.

Opposition demands job security

The parliamentary group leader of the left, Dietmar Bartsch, described financial support from the federal government for Uniper as “mandatory”. “Despite the drama, the conditions for state billions must be right,” said Bartsch. “The entry must not be at the expense of consumers and employees.”

As the largest German gas importer, Uniper is under severe pressure after the severe throttling of Russian gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The company has to buy expensive gas to be able to service contracts with its customers. Uniper plays a central role in Germany’s energy supply and supplies more than a hundred municipal utilities and industrial companies.

“Higher procurement prices must not be passed on to consumers,” said Bartsch. “Here we need a gas price cap, an unlimited protection clause.” In addition, the left-wing parliamentary group leader called for protection for the employees. «Uniper must not become Lufthansa 2.0. Hundreds of thousands of air travelers are experiencing what negligently promised billions of federal government are doing these days.”

Uniper’s request for help was not a surprise, Habeck said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk. “We are in intensive talks with all utility companies. When I say daily, I’m understating it.” He did not rule out other energy suppliers asking for help – Uniper only got into trouble first and most because of its large share of Russian gas purchases.