As the majority shareholder with an 83.7% stake, Uniper claims it has not had any access to information about its power generation subsidiary, Unipro, since the final quarter of last year, despite attempts to gain control.
This illustrates the fallout for western businesses from Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Uniper announced a net loss of €19 billion last year, pledging to become profitable again despite the problems with its Russian subsidiary.
Unipro employs around 4,300 people and has five gas and coal-fired power plants in the country’s industrial regions. Uniper has been forced to deconsolidate Unipro in 2022 and report it as a discontinued operation, resulting in a loss of €4.4 billion.
While Uniper has found a local buyer for Unipro, it has yet to receive “presidential approval,” suggesting the sale is being personally blocked by Putin. Uniper was nationalized by Berlin amid fears of collapse after Moscow cut Europe’s supplies of Russian gas.
The German government stepped in to prop up the company in July 2022, injecting €8 billion into the company and offering a further €25 billion in authorized capital, of which around €5.5 billion had been used by the end of last year.
The German state lender KfW provided Uniper with an €18 billion credit facility.
Following the bailout, several managers, including Maubach, left the company. He stated that the task for his successors would be to develop Uniper and make it profitable again, although he did not provide any details on how this would be achieved given the changes in its business model due to the war in Ukraine.
Uniper anticipates replacing Russian gas by the end of 2024 and phasing out financial support from the German state. Although the €19.1 billion net loss is about half of what Uniper initially predicted, the figure remains significant and highlights the challenges facing the company as it rethinks its entire business model.
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