The nationalised German energy importer Uniper has pledged to become profitable again even as it announced a net loss of €19bn last year after Vladimir Putin cut Europe’s supplies of Russian gas.
The company, which is 99 per cent owned by the German government after an emergency bailout last year, was once Europe’s largest importer of natural gas from Gazprom. But it began racking up huge losses after Moscow reduced supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, prompting fears that it could collapse.
Klaus-Dieter Maubach, the chief executive, said that Uniper was “at its core a strong company that has successfully got through the most difficult year in its history”.
Maubach, who has announced that he will leave the company, said that the task of his successors would be “to continue to develop Uniper and make it profitable again”.
He offered no detail of how the company planned to do that after the war in Ukraine upended its business model.
But Uniper said that the issue of replacing Russian gas would be overcome by the end of 2024 at the latest, and promised to phase out financial support from the German state.
Although the €19.1bn net loss is about half the €40bn loss the company had initially predicted thanks to lower than expected costs for replacing Russian gas, the figure is still vast — and underlines the challenges facing a company whose bailout by German taxpayers is set to cost as much as €51bn.
Under strict conditions set out by the EU when it approved last year’s government bailout, the company agreed to divest a string of assets, committed not to expand its market position in sales and to grant competitors access to its transport and storage capacities.