March 14, 2008 was a big day for Jürgen Grossmann, the ex-boss of German energy giant RWE.
“This is a milestone in our development,” he wrote in an email to his colleagues on the company’s board and a few leading managers. “I’m certain that, working together, we will turn this into a great success for RWE.”
He saved special praise for “project team Kurier” and giddy congratulations to everyone else on the email.
Mr. Grossmann had taken over the reins of Germany’s largest power producer just six months earlier. Now he was crowing about his first coup: a small team working under the codename “Kurier” had apparently quietly cracked the potentially lucrative Russian electricity market.
Mr. Grossmann had received word from Russia only minutes before that RWE, along with its Russian partner Sintez, had won the rights to a slice of the privatized power monopolist UES.
Known as TGK-2, the part consisted of 16 co-generation power plants servicing seven million customers northwest of Moscow. It was a small but tasty piece of the pie.
Half a year later, the takeover failed. And now, years later, Mr. Grossmann has ended up in court rather than the RWE history books.