Uniper CEO Interview

How Fossil Fuels Can Flourish

main 69121935 Reuters – Uniper coal power plant in Hanau energy electricity 2016
Uniper’s CEO is certain: The sun also rises. Source: Reuters

The chief executive of Uniper, Klaus Schäfer, has marked the first anniversary of the energy company’s bourse listing with a plea for independence, brushing aside takeover rumors. Former owner E.ON, which still owns a 47 percent stake, plans to sell the stake in early 2018 and CEO Johannes Teyssen hasn’t ruled out placing it with a strategic investor.

“My colleagues and I in the management are convinced that Uniper has a great future as an independent listed company. I don’t see any other constellation that would be better for us and our shareholders,” Mr. Schäfer told Handelsblatt. “We are of course aware that our biggest shareholder wants to sell its remaining shares in Uniper. But we have seen in the last 12 months that our hard work has been honored by the capital market and I’m sure that the capital market is ready to take up the shares at a good price.”

Uniper manages the legacy coal and gas power plants, wholesale trading and gas production activities of the former E.ON group, which last year separated into two companies to cope with the energy price slump and massive writedowns resulting from Germany’s switch to renewable power. E.ON was left with the group’s renewable energy operations, seen by analysts as an altogether more promising business model than Uniper’s aging conventional plants.

However, since the IPO 12 months ago, Uniper’s share price has more than doubled to €22 ($26), it decided to sell its 25 percent stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye Siberian gas field to slash debt, and it has agreed a cost-cutting deal with employees. Uniper is Germany’s biggest utility in terms of revenue, which was €67.3 billion last year.

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