Fortum CEO says Uniper obstructed proposed purchase - Kommersant

Credit: REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

Corrects day in paragraph 7

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Uniper UN01.DE deliberately obstructed Fortum's proposed purchase of a stake in the German utility by registering assets in Russia as strategic, Kommersant daily quoted Fortum FORTUM.HE CEO Pekka Lundmark as saying on Thursday.

Uniper and Fortum have had a strained relationship since the Finnish state-owned company launched a takeover bid for the German group in 2017 which Uniper opposed.

In October, state-controlled Finnish utility Fortum agreed to buy a stake of more than 20.5% in Uniper, which would bring its total holding to more than 70.5%.

But the purchase is subject to Russian regulatory approval due to a strategic water licence operated by the German group's Russian subsidiary Unipro UPRO.MM.

"The company registered water supply activities at Surgutskaya GRES-2 as a natural monopoly on (its) own initiative after we announced our offer to buy Uniper shares," Lundmark told Kommersant.

Lundmark said Fortum had discussed the issue with the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, and the regulator is considering Fortum's application to buy the stake.

Uniper had no immediate comment on Thursday.

Uniper's Russian business Unipro considers classifying further assets in Russia as strategic, Interfax cited a Unipro official as saying on Thursday.

Unipro sees obstacles to a Fortum acquisition at all of its five power stations in Russia, the Unipro official said.

Fortum said in a separate statement it expected to close the deal by the end of the first quarter in 2020. Lundmark also said Fortum would seek to chair Uniper's supervisory board once the deal closed.

Uniper said earlier this month that Fortum had yet to address a range of questions about its intentions in the takeover talks to get management support for any deal.

(Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina in Gdansk. Editing by David Holmes and Jane Merriman)

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