BERLIN (Reuters) – German gas importer Uniper, which became the biggest corporate casualty in Europe’s energy crisis last year, will this week repay 2 billion euros in state aid it received to stave off its collapse, the company’s chief executive was quoted as telling a German newspaper.
Uniper requested the bailout due to sky-rocketing prices in the wake of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and disruptions in the supply of Russian gas.
But in July, the company said it expected billions of euros in profits in 2023 as a result of better-than-expected gas price developments.
“Uniper received credit lines worth up to 18 billion euros from the KfW (state) bank,” Chief Executive Michael Lewis was quoted as telling the Rheinische Post. “We will this week pay back the last tranche of what we used, worth 2 billion euros.”
Lewis said the company also needed less equity from the state than expected. So far it had received 13.5 billion euros in equity, and a further 20 billion had been planned by 2024. However, these would not be needed.
“I am confident the state will get its money back over the next few years,” he was quoted as saying.
Under EU state aid requirements Berlin would have to cut its stake to 25% plus one share by the end of 2028 at the latest.
Lewis said he would prefer a stock market flotation rather than a sale to an investor, to keep Uniper independent.
“But our owner decides this question too,” he said.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Grant McCool)