Unique-Germany set to imagine $230 billion in Uniper derivatives By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Emblem of Uniper is pictured on the firm’s headquarters, as Germany agreed to nationalize Uniper by shopping for Fortum’s stake within the fuel importer to safe operations and maintain its enterprise going, in Duesseldorf, Germany, September 21, 2022. REUTE

By John O’Donnell and Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – After setting apart virtually half a trillion {dollars} so far tackling its power disaster, Germany can be poised to tackle the dangers related to 216 billion euros ($229 billion) of derivatives constructed up by power big Uniper.

Germany is nationalising Uniper in what’s the greatest company bailout within the nation’s historical past, after Russia’s transfer to choke off fuel threw Europe’s greatest economic system into chaos.

Uniper has already booked billions of euros of losses on derivatives, exacerbating a disaster because it rushed to plug the hole left after Russia turned off the faucets. However even earlier than the Ukraine battle, the fuel big was underneath stress and needed to flip to German state financial institution KfW for help.

Reuters calculated the full derivatives publicity utilizing Uniper’s most up-to-date monetary assertion, for the primary time giving the total scale of the positions, which it confirmed.

Like different power companies, Uniper makes use of derivatives, akin to securing an choice to promote fuel at a set worth sooner or later, to protect in opposition to power worth swings. These carry dangers in themselves, nevertheless, and have grow to be pricey to keep up.

“In whole, we’ve by-product positions of about 216 billion euros as of September 30 2022,” a spokesperson for Uniper mentioned, including that the riskier a part of this was small.

“Total, our derivatives place which is expounded to speculative positions, is within the smaller hundreds of thousands”.

In response to its accounts, Uniper held round 198 billion euros of receivables from by-product devices as belongings.

Whether or not used for hedging or hypothesis, derivatives carry dangers. If the market worth falls far in need of or soars previous an choice worth, the price of maintaining this commerce can bounce.

To make sure that offers aren’t derailed by worth actions, merchants lodge safety, typically money, with clearing homes. With latest worth spikes, calls for for such ‘margin calls’ rocketed.

European utilities have seen their by-product positions balloon, pushed by hovering fuel and energy costs that require them to additionally elevate the worth of those devices of their accounts. If market costs drop, so do the by-product values.

Uniper’s excellent positions, the newest to be publicly accessible, may probably lead to additional losses relying on how power costs develop, one particular person acquainted with the matter instructed Reuters.

That would in flip lumber the German authorities, which is already spending greater than 51 billion euros to prop up and nationalise Uniper, with better prices as soon as it completes its takeover of the utility, which is anticipated shortly.

Shareholders are anticipated to approve Berlin’s bailout of Uniper, which has a key function in German power infrastructure by funnelling fuel to trade and houses throughout the nation, at a unprecedented common assembly scheduled for Dec. 19.


Uniper has reported a 40 billion euro loss for the primary 9 months of this 12 months, which it mentioned factored in 10 billion euros of realised losses incurred by changing fuel not flowing from Russia with purchases at a lot greater costs.

It additionally elements in 31 billion euros in anticipated future losses from “valuation results on derivatives and provision build-ups” associated to Russian fuel provide curtailments, Uniper mentioned in its final quarterly report.

This estimate was primarily based on power costs on the finish of September, which have come down considerably since then.

“We’ve got to imagine that the non supply from Russia will proceed and that there can be additional losses. With out the … fuel deliveries from Russia, the fuel enterprise will make losses till the tip of 2024,” the spokesperson mentioned.

Uniper, in its nine-month report, mentioned it made a collection of writedowns and changes, together with a 3 billion euro writedown on derivatives and a 9 billion euro loss from derivatives used for hedging, and mentioned there had been an 11 billion euro influence on revenue from ‘remaining derivatives’, with out giving particulars.

One particular person near the federal government mentioned he feared Germany’s economic system and power ministry, who underneath Inexperienced get together minister Robert Habeck led the bailout, had underestimated the dangers.

The Economic system Ministry mentioned that in its nationalisation of Uniper “all related elements have been thought-about and evaluated, together with the steadiness sheet dangers listed within the annual reviews”.

An Economic system Ministry spokesperson instructed Reuters that Uniper used derivatives to protect in opposition to dangers within the worth of or supply of power, or as a hedge in opposition to foreign money swings.

Any losses from its general publicity could also be counterbalanced by good points from the monetary devices, which search to buffer power worth swings with choices to purchase or promote fuel, for instance, for a set worth sooner or later.

In Uniper’s case, the amount of liabilities tied to derivatives is up round two and a half occasions from the tip of 2021 and is round six occasions the equal publicity of oil majors BP (NYSE:) or Shell (LON:) on the finish of September.

It is usually greater than the 131 billion euros Germany’s RWE had on the finish of June, public knowledge exhibits.


Uniper has already attracted the eye of officers on the European Central Financial institution, in addition to some within the European Parliament. Some officers concern power corporations are performing as de facto merchants, however with out regulatory oversight utilized to banks, one particular person acquainted with the matter has instructed Reuters.

“It raises the query: what’s behind these trades? The upper the quantity, the upper the potential dangers,” mentioned Knut Slatten, a credit score analyst with score company Moody’s (NYSE:) who described Uniper’s derivatives place as “huge”.

Moody’s examined Uniper as one a part of Finnish energy group Fortum, its majority proprietor till Berlin takes over.

“It is determined by the construction of the trades – however right here, we do not absolutely see what is going on,” mentioned Slatten, who needs power corporations to be extra clear about derivatives.

($1 = 0.9406 euros)

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