Finnish utility Fortum takes majority stake in Uniper, pledges commitment to energy transition
Clean Energy Wire / Handelsblatt
Finnish state-owned utility Fortum has officially completed its purchase of a majority stake in German utility company Uniper, the company announced in a press release. Fortum now holds 69.6 percent of both shares and voting rights in Uniper and plans to purchase up to 3.8 percent more within the next two months. The purchase increases Fortum’s total investment in Uniper to a maximum of 6.5 billion euros, the release says. The takeover was years in the making, Jurgen Flauger writes in the business daily Handelsblatt. Uniper itself initially resisted the sale and so did authorities in Russia, where Uniper has major operations. But Russia lifted those restrictions earlier this month.
Both Fortum and Uniper have come under fire from environmentalists and some investors for the latter’s plan to bring the new Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant online this summer, despite Germany’s commitment to exit all coal power by 2038. Uniper has argued that Datteln 4 will replace older, less efficient coal plants and ultimately reduce carbon emissions. In its press release, Fortum sought to allay some of those concerns. Fortum said it “welcomes” Uniper’s target of reaching carbon neutrality in its European power generation by 2035 and “supports” plans to retire or sell most of its coal assets. “To drive the energy transition forward, carbon emissions from power generation must be reduced and significant investments must be made not only in renewables but also in increasingly clean gas, energy storage and other flexibility solutions that provide security of supply in the next decades,” Fortum CEO Pekka Lundmark said in the release. “Fortum and Uniper want to set ambitious decarbonisation targets covering the combined operations of both companies,” the release states.