E.ON Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen still sees the glass as half full even as the energy company faces one of the biggest crises in its history.
The overvaluation of E.ON’s spin off, Uniper, has forced the utility to make massive write-offs and has led to a €9.3-billion ($9.8 billion) gap in its finances.
“I admit that the consequences were larger than we expected two years ago,” Mr. Teyssen told Handelsblatt in an exclusive interview, referring to the overvaluation and write-offs.
Despite the difficult times, Mr. Teyssen still argues that E.ON is in solid shape, with no net debt and some €500 million in assets.
“Every day we will have to confront the competition – also Innogy. That doesn’t frighten me or our team at all.”
“Not a single euro has gotten away due to the write-offs,” Mr. Teyssen said. “Our core business continues to work with profits. And our net financial position is even positive.”
Uniper, which operates E.ON’s old gas and coal businesses, went public in September. The utility decided to separate its fossil fuel operations after the German government mandated a rapid transition towards renewable energy, making coal and gas increasingly unprofitable.
E.ON originally valued its spin-off at €15.5 billion, but sources previously told Handelsblatt that Uniper’s real value is closer to €5.5 billion. The utility has maintained a 47 percent stake in its spin-off.
Using international accounting standards, E.ON’s shareholder equity could dip into negative territory in the fourth quarter of the year. Under German rules, however, E.ON’s shareholder equity remains positive, Mr. Teyssen said.
Still, there’s no denying that E.ON has taken a significant hit and, at least for the time being, has fallen behind the competition. Innogy, the renewables spin-off of chief German rival RWE, has surpassed E.ON as Germany’s largest energy company based on its market valuation.
But Mr. Teyssen is confident that E.ON will, over time, come back from behind.
“That’s purely based on calculations on paper and is just a snapshot in time,” Mr. Teyssen said. “Every day we will have to confront the competition – also Innogy. That doesn’t frighten me or our team at all.”
Jürgen Flauger is Handelsblatt’s leading energy correspondent and Peter Brors is a member of Handelsblatt’s team of chief editors. To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Read the full Q&A with E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen in Monday’s edition of Handelsblatt Global.