In January 2018 it was clear that Fortum, the biggest energy company in Finland with the state as the major shareholder, was treading on dangerous ground when they purchased some 47% of Uniper, the German energy utility and trading company that has plenty of exposure to coal and gas in Russia, as well as coal plants in Germany and nuclear plants in Sweden.
Uniper is also financing the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany with some €900 million.
The CEO of Uniper has made it clear that he sees Fortum as a hostile partner and has not made any attempt to find a path of peaceful co-existence with Fortum.
Uniper says the following rather nasty things about Fortum:
- Fortum is meant to be a green company and should not be buying a dirty fossil fuel based company…
- Fortum will have little or no success in dealing with German politicians. Only German management understand how to handle these really difficult people…
- Fortum does not have the resources to finance the new NordStream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany…
Fortum claims that they can make good profits from operating, owning and selling Uniper’s assets, which will enable them to invest in renewables.
The Finnish government has backed Fortum’s takeover, and they have also agreed to the construction of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline on our part of the Baltic sea-bed. The government has repeated said that the pipeline is an economic matter not a political question.
Sweden and Denmark and many others has expressed their strong disagreement to the pipeline – they distrust the Russians and they also see that the EU is too dependent on Russian energy.
Now the Russians have made some really disturbing noises about how Fortum is a risk for Russia because it operates for the benefit of big capitalist companies, whatever that means!
The criticism, that appears to come from the top in the Russian political system, was unexpected and unwelcome in Finland because “we have done nothing wrong”, according to our leaders who remained tight-lipped about the whole affair.
But Russia is Russia, and we must live with them as neighbours and accept verbal insults with quiet perseverance, but one thing is for sure – Fortum’s business in Russia is as secure as a rabbit in its hole with a fox waiting to grab it by the neck if it happens to pop up at the wrong time. Let’s hope the fox goes hunting for a mate and forgets the whereabouts of the burrow.