Uniper talks to German government and Gazprom on ruble payment system

The logo of Uniper SE is seen on its stand at Gastech, the world’s largest exhibition for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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  • No binding assessment yet in payment negotiations with Gazprom
  • Net debt more than sixfold to 1.98 billion euros
  • Shares down 3.6%

FRANKFURT, May 3 (Reuters) – Germany’s Uniper (UN01.DE) remains in talks with Gazprom (GAZP.MM) and the German government on how to implement Moscow’s demand to pay for Russian gas in rubles, which, according to the European Commission, would violate the sanctions.

Uniper, in presentation slides released with the final Q1 results, cited “ongoing discussions with the German government and Gazprom on the potential implementation” of the decree, which fueled fears that supplies could be interrupted.

The company, Germany’s biggest importer of Russian gas, of which Finland’s Fortum (FORTUM.HE) owns 78%, declined to comment on details of the talks, saying only that no binding assessment had been made so far.

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Uniper shares were down 3.6% at 1355 GMT after the company also disclosed a six-fold increase in its net debt to 1.98 billion euros ($2.09 billion), due to the surge in energy prices which led to an increased need for cash to secure contracts.

Uniper’s gas midstream business covers a portfolio of approximately 370 terawatt hours (TWh) of long-term gas supply contracts, of which approximately 200 TWh comes from Russia.

The European Commission said late Monday that full compliance with Russia’s proposed program would breach existing EU sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but promised more detailed guidance on what companies can and can’t do it legally. Read more

Brussels suggested last month that buyers of Russian gas could make sanctions-compliant payments if they report payments in full once they have been made in euros and before they are converted into rubles.

The Russian decree, however, states that a buyer’s obligation would not be considered complete until the foreign currency was converted into rubles.

Uniper said last week that it planned to transfer euro payments to a Russian account in the future and that the first payment under the scheme was due at the end of May, adding that no final decision had been made. . Read more

($1 = 0.9480 euros)

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Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff; additional reporting by Vera Eckert; edited by Paul Carrel and Jason Neely

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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