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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his government is continuing talks on aid for gas giant Uniper, and signalled that bailout tools developed during the pandemic to rescue big companies such as Lufthansa are on the table again.
“During the last crisis, we developed very precise instruments — and I drove this forward as finance minister — to support companies that have come under pressure from circumstances for which they are not responsible,” Scholz said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday.
Uniper, the largest buyer of Russian gas in Germany, said last Wednesday it is discussing a possible increase in state-backed loans or even receiving equity investments to secure liquidity.
Germany’s economy ministry has confirmed that talks are under way after the sharp rise in gas prices and Russia’s moves to slash deliveries hobbled the Düsseldorf-based company.
Uniper is “a big company and we said we’re going to work with the company to see what can be done”, Scholz said.
The Social Democrat chancellor said that the government’s aim is to shield suppliers and consumers from the spike in gas prices that has followed a reduction of gas flows by about 60% through a key pipeline from Russia.
“It’s important to be active in both fields. We are already doing that ... the many loans that we are making available for the companies that are active as suppliers in this area are helping to ensure that the prices have not yet hit through,” Scholz said.
Analysts estimate that the Russian gas cut is costing Uniper €30m a day. If the government was to put up enough money to rescue Uniper for a year, that would translate into costs of about €11bn.
Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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