FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Russia’s Inter RAO could boost its profits by buying Russian fossil fuel assets from Germany’s Uniper and Finland’s Fortum, a shareholder in the Moscow-listed company said on Friday.
The remarks come a week after Uniper Chief Executive Andreas Schierenbeck fuelled speculation about a deal when he said his firm was open to considering offers for Unipro, its Russian power plant division.
“In our opinion there really is only one buyer and that is Inter RAO,” said Henry Steel, portfolio manager at Odey Asset Management, which has $3 billion under management and which holds an undisclosed number of shares in Inter RAO.
He said a deal for the Russian assets, which he said Inter RAO was probably already considering, would lift the firm’s profits and could be worth about 4.5 billion euros ($5.5 billion), roughly matching Inter RAO’s available liquidity.
Russian daily Kommersant reported last year Inter RAO was interested in the Uniper assets.
Finland’s Fortum, which has disclosed a 75% stake in Uniper, owns eight thermal power plants in Russia, mostly gas-fired plant, as well as a 29.5% stake in TGK-1 PAO, a subsidiary of Gazprom.
Unipro operates 11 gigawatt of power stations in Russia.
“For Fortum and Uniper, a sale would be in line with their efforts to decarbonise,” Odey’s Steel said, adding a deal could be announced this year.
Fortum has committed to not seek full control of Uniper until the end of 2021.
Uniper and Inter RAO declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Fortum declined to comment on possible deal activity but said the company was seeking to develop its wind and solar power plant portfolio in Russia.
Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki and Anastasia Lyrchikova in Moscow; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Edmund Blair
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