Germany buys temporary stake in grid operator 50Hertz to fend off Chinese
The German government will acquire a temporary 20 percent stake in power transmission grid operator (TSO) 50Hertz from Belgian Elia “on national security grounds”, the economy ministry (BMWi) said in a press release. The ministry said the decision was taken, because “the Federal Government has a major interest in protecting critical energy infrastructure” and 50Hertz plays a “key role in the implementation of the energy transition”. In a message on Twitter, Thomas Bareiß, parliamentary state secretary in the economy ministry, said that “securing German infrastructure is of highest priority” for the government.
Sicherung deutscher #Infrastruktur hat für uns oberste Priorität. Deshalb ist Kauf der @50Hertzcom Anteile die richtige Entscheidung. Bei all den zukünftig notwendigen Investitionen brauchen wir klare und verlässliche Strukturen. @BMWi_Bund #Energie #50Hertz #Strom #Netze— Thomas Bareiß (@Thomas_Bareiss) July 27, 2018
Belgian grid operator Elia has exercised its pre-emption right on the stake in Eurogrid International CVBA – which indirectly holds 100 percent in 50Hertz – and will directly sell it to German state-owned bank KfW “at the same financial conditions”, Elia said in a separate press release. The Belgian company owns an 80 percent stake in 50Hertz after it had already acquired a 20 percent stake from Australian infrastructure fund IFM in April 2018. The German economy said this is just a temporary measure and it intends to sell the shares again in the future. Chinese grid operator SGCC had tried to acquire a first stake in 50Hertz earlier in 2018, raising concerns in Germany over foreign influence on critical infrastructure and technology.
Find the BMWi press release in English here, the Elia press release in English here, the KfW press release in English here, and a Reuters article on the topic in English here.
For background, read the CLEW news piece German politicians closely watch Chinese company’s plans to buy share in German grid operator, the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid and the article Sino-German tandem: Export champions promote global energy transition for background.