Scholz says German government ready to support Uniper

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the German government was ready to help companies in need, providing a positive backdrop to talks to bail out beleaguered energy giant Uniper SE.

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(Bloomberg) – Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the German government is ready to help companies in need, providing a positive backdrop to talks to bail out beleaguered energy giant Uniper SE.

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“I can assure you that Germany has a history of doing whatever is necessary to help businesses struggling due to external shocks,” Scholz said Thursday, citing programs put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Uniper, the biggest buyer of Russian gas in Germany, said late Wednesday that it was discussing a possible increase in state-guaranteed loans or even equity investments to secure liquidity. The Economy Ministry confirmed on Thursday that talks to provide “stabilization measures” are underway, due to a sharp rise in gas prices and measures taken by Russia to reduce deliveries.

The favorable comments from Germany are all the more important given that Uniper has a slim chance of securing funding from Finland, the home country of its parent company Fortum Oyj. Finland’s government is focusing on the state-controlled public service, rather than its German unity, according to a person familiar with the matter who is not authorized to discuss a sensitive issue publicly.

At a press conference after a meeting of NATO leaders in Madrid, Scholz was asked if his government was ready to help Uniper. The Chancellor cited various programs during the pandemic as an example of possible support for energy companies in the current gas crisis.

He declined to comment specifically on Uniper, saying decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

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