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E.ON CFO defends plan to sell Uniper stake to Fortum: BoeZ
September 23, 2017 / 1:15 PM / 3 months ago

E.ON CFO defends plan to sell Uniper stake to Fortum: BoeZ

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German utility E.ON (EONGn.DE) has good reason to try and sell its remaining stake in Uniper, the mainly fossil-fuels based power stations and trading business it spun off last year, to Finland’s Fortum (FORTUM.HE), its chief financial officer Marc Spieker said in an interview with Boersenzeitung (BoeZ).

E.ON headquarters in Essen, Germany, March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

News broke this week that talks for Fortum to pay 3.8 billion euros ($4.54 billion) for E.ON’s 47-percent shareholding are advanced but Uniper (UN01.DE) responded with dismay, saying the bid was not welcome as it could manage well on its own.

“The objective of splitting up our company right from the beginning was to create two separately functioning companies which can and must take their own decisions,” Spieker said.

“Fortum has spoken positively about Uniper and its management and declared its intention to be a strategic, constructive investor,” he added.

Analysts have said Uniper fears it could be broken up by Fortum, which focuses on carbon-free power.

Spieker also said that E.ON was planning to raise its payout ratio beyond the current minimum 65 percent after two successive hikes from 50 percent - first to 60 percent, then to 65 percent - over the past six months.

The last increase was “an interim step on the road to a payout ration that can measure up to our relevant competitors”, he said.

He also said E.ON, which in first-half 2017 reduced debt to 21.5 billion euros from 26 billion, would continue to cut debt through savings, asset sales and organic growth.

“In future, we can grow our power distribution grid business by between three and four percent instead of two to three percent up to now,” he said.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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