Germany, seeking to ensure security of gas supplies, is introducing temporary external management of Gazprom’s assets in the country. On April 1, Gazprom announced that it no longer owned the assets of Gazprom Germania, but the German authorities did not consider the move legal because it had not been agreed with the country’s government. The German regulator will now take on the role of shareholder and gain broad management rights over Gazprom Germania.
Gazprom Germania GmbH, which ceased to be controlled by Russia’s Gazprom on April 1, has been handed over to the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) until September 30, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday.
The Ministry of Economy on Monday issued a legal decree approved by the German government. “The decision concerns the divisions of Gazprom Germania GmbH … By this decision, my ministry appoints the Federal Grid Agency as the temporary trustee of the Gazprom Germania Group,” the minister said, explaining that the document “serves to protect public order and preserve public security.”
On April 1, Gazprom announced that it had ceased to control Gazprom Germania GmbH and its assets of systemic importance to Germany (see Kommersant, April 1). These are London-based Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd, a gas trader across Europe, UGS operator in Europe and Austria Astora, WIEH and Wingas traders.
Gazprom did not comment on the information about the new owner. According to the report, Gazprom withdrew from Gazprom Germania GmbH, owned by Gazprom Export-Business Services, on March 31. According to SPARK-Interfax, on the same day its owner was Palmeri JSC registered in Moscow, which, in turn, owns 99.9% of the company itself, its CEO – Dmitry Tseplyaev.
But, as Mr. Habek explains, Gazprom left its German subsidiary without government approval, in violation of Germany’s foreign trade law.
Thus, according to the German authorities, the deal is invalid.
In addition, according to the official, the buyer ordered the liquidation of Gazprom Germania, “which is illegal until the acquisition is approved.”
- The essence of external management is that BNetzA temporarily takes over the functions of shareholder, in particular, the company will have the right to appoint board members and give instructions to management.
- From now on, Gazprom Germania GmbH’s powers to manage and dispose of assets will be limited.
As Bloomberg reported on Monday, the German government is discussing with private buyers the sale of the German company Gazprom Germania GmbH or its individual divisions and is going to offer buyers loans from a state bank. On March 30, the same agency reported searches of the offices of Gazprom Germania and Wingas as part of the European Commission’s investigation into Gazprom’s role in rising gas prices in Europe. The Handelsblatt newspaper previously reported that the German Ministry of Economy was considering the nationalization of German subsidiaries Gazprom and Rosneft.