February 1, 2019 / 8:21 AM / 7 months ago

Fortum has raised its Uniper stake to 49.99 percent

Finnish energy company Fortum sign is seen at their headquarters in Espoo, Finland July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s biggest utility Fortum on Friday said it had raised its stake in German energy company Uniper to 49.99 percent, while also reporting a rise in comparable operating profit in the fourth quarter, citing higher electricity prices.

Fortum in June closed a 3.8 billion euro ($4.4 billion) deal to buy around 47 percent of Uniper. Uniper has opposed the transaction, saying the combination makes little sense given the energy group’s heavy exposure to gas and coal-fired power plants while Fortum’s focus is on clean technologies.

“Since the closing of the offer, we have increased our shareholding in Uniper in order to further secure Fortum’s voting position in any future Uniper General Meeting,” Fortum’s Chief Executive Pekka Lundmark said in a statement. “At the end of 2018, Fortum held 49.99 percent of Uniper shares and voting rights.”

Fortum’s fourth-quarter comparable operating profit rose 13 percent from a year ago to 333 million euros ($381 million), roughly in line with analysts’ average expectation of 330 million in a Reuters poll.

“Fortum’s fourth-quarter results improved, mainly as a result of higher power prices and increased nuclear production, due to improved availability,” Lundmark said.

Fortum’s board of directors proposed an unchanged dividend of EUR 1.10 per share for the calendar year 2018.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Tarmo Virki; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Jane Merriman

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