Takeover Dispute

E.ON-Uniper spat over Fortum bid heats up

No love lost: Uniper's Bernhard Reutersberg and E.ON's Karl-Ludwig Kley. Source: Handelsblatt [M]

A family feud is underway in Germany’s beleaguered energy sector. E.ON, the country’s second-largest power company, is embroiled in a dispute over a foreign takeover bid for Uniper, its former fossil-fuel division. In stark contrast to a behind-doors approach favored by Germany’s corporate titans, E.ON has thrown discretion to the wind by taking the conflict public.

Karl-Ludwig Kley, E.ON’s supervisory board chairman, has written to his counterpart at Uniper, Bernhard Reutersberg, to complain about the latter’s response to a takeover bid from Finnish rival Fortum. Uniper was formed last year when E.ON spun off its “dirty fuel” activities into a separate company and floated it on the stock market.

Despite the divestment, E.ON remains Uniper’s largest shareholder, with a stake of just under 47 percent. Fortum had announced in September that it planned to submit a bid of €22 (about $26) per share for Uniper.

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