Fortum CEO: Uniper’s opposition to takeover bid is unusual and confusing

Pekka Lundmark, the chief executive of Fortum, spoke to reporters in a press conference in Espoo on 27 September, 2017, after the state-owned energy utility announced its plans to table an offer worth eight billion euros for Uniper.

Pekka Lundmark, the chief executive of Fortum, has expressed his surprise at the hostile reaction of the management of Uniper to news that Fortum is about to acquire a stake in the energy facility operator based in Düsseldorf, Germany - writes helsinkitimes.fi.

“Launching such a public attack against a deal made by its owner is certainly quite unusual and a bit confounding,” he said in an interview with YLE on Monday .

Fortum in September announced it has signed an agreement with Eon for acquiring 46.7 per cent of shares in Uniper in early 2018. The transaction would, if completed, oblige the state-owned energy utility to also table an offer for the remaining shares in Uniper, bringing the total value of the acquisition to over eight billion euros.

Uniper has launched a visible media campaign against what it considers a hostile takeover bid.

Lundmark on Monday admitted that the takeover plans did not become public knowledge according to the rules of the trade. Uniper found out about the takeover negotiations between its largest shareholder and Fortum in a report published in May by Bloomberg, a report that was later confirmed by both Eon and Fortum.

Uniper’s frustration with the way in which the plans were made public is understandable, but its continuing opposition to the takeover is not, says Lundmark.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) estimated in an interview with MTV on Saturday that the takeover would have no ramifications for foreign and security policy making in Finland, despite the fact that it would see the majority state-owned company considerably bump up its share of the energy generated in Russia.

His assessment was firmly rejected by Ville Niinistö, an ex-chairperson of the Green League.

Uniper, he pointed out, is a major stakeholder Nord Stream 2, an export gas pipeline from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea. The pipeline has raised concerns across the continent – especially in its eastern parts – over the growing influence of Russia.

“It is naive to claim that acquiring such a company would not increase the risks of […] Fortum in regards to Russia. And claiming that it would have no ramifications for our security policy is turning a blind eye to the issue,” Niinistö wrote on Facebook.

The takeover has also raised eyebrows in Finland due to differences in the energy portfolios of Fortum and Uniper: the former relies heavily on hydro- and nuclear power, and the latter on coal and natural gas.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva

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