Kommersant: Putin’s decree forced European energy companies to stay in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning purchases and sales of shares in companies included in the list of strategic enterprises, as well as in companies that produce and supply heat and electricity. This decree disrupted two major deals on the Russian energy market with the participation of European companies at once. According to Kommersant, the Italian Enel and the Finnish Fortum will now be forced to stay in Russia and forcibly develop their business.

According to the decree, all transactions in the declared areas are carried out only with the approval of the president until December 31, 2022. Due to the new requirement, Enel failed to sell a controlling stake in Enel Russia, which was ready to be bought by the Russian partners of the Italian company - Lukoil and the Gazprombank-Freesia fund.

Enel expected to sell 56.43% of the shares of the Russian company for $135 million, but the shares that the Russian partners were counting on were not disclosed. Sources of the publication also claimed that Lukoil would consolidate the share of Gazprombank-Frezeya in the future, details of the agreement were not given. The "daughter" of the Italian company in Russia owns three state district power plants with a capacity of 5.6 GW.

The same fate befell the Finnish Fortum, which wanted to leave the Russian market and get rid of the Fortum generating company, where it owns 98.25%. In Russia, the Finnish company owns a wide portfolio of assets: seven thermal power plants, three solar and one wind power plant, as well as a stake in TGK-1 (the company has a 29.45% stake, owns thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants, controlled by Gazprom Energoholding).

In addition, the company owns 73.4% of the shares of the German Uniper, which owns 83.73% of the shares of Unipro in Russia (five GRES for 11 GW). At the same time, Uniper was also looking for opportunities to sell Unipro, however, all negotiations were not public. Gazprombank, AFK Sistema and Invest AG Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov claimed Fortum's assets (excluding a stake in Uniper), Gazprom Energoholding, Inter RAO and AFK Sistema claimed Uniper's assets. Moreover, the demand for the assets of the Finns was very high, even despite the requirement to pay off the debt of Fortum in the amount of 75 billion rubles and potential problems with servicing European equipment.

Sources of the publication in the energy market note that, in fact, the presidential decree forces European companies not only to stay in Russia, but also to continue to develop and support their business, since they do not have the right to simply curtail it: the energy infrastructure must be maintained by law, and business cuts threaten to Fortum and Enel with substantial fines.

Vladimir Putin signed a decree on "special measures in the financial and fuel and energy sectors in connection with the unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organizations" on Friday, August 5. The document prohibits transactions in systemically important areas with shares of foreigners from "unfriendly countries", exceptions can only be approved by the president.

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