ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) - E.ON (EONGn.DE) chief Johannes Teyssen plans to quickly sell the group’s remaining stake in Uniper (UN01.DE), the power plant and trading unit it spun off last year, in hopes that a sale, along with higher payouts, will help ease growing shareholder pressure.
“It will happen soon but also in a way that creates value, as the markets allow,” Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen told shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting on Wednesday. “This may enable us to recover for you some part of the Uniper impairment charges recorded in our 2016 financial statements.”
Following the spin-off, E.ON still holds a 46.65 percent stake in Uniper, which has a value of 2.84 billion euros ($3.09 billion) based on its current market valuation. E.ON has previously said it could sell further Uniper stakes from 2018.
Teyssen also reiterated his commitment to raising dividends to 0.30 euros a share for 2017, up from 0.21 euros apiece for 2016, with a view to increase payouts in the future.
E.ON’s owners had to swallow a 16 billion euro annual net loss for 2016, the fourth since Teyssen took office in 2010 and one of the largest in German corporate history, mostly triggered by the spin-off.
Adding to Teyssen’s problems, E.ON’s restructuring, its most far-reaching to date, has been received less well by investors and analysts than a similar breakup at peer RWE (RWEG.DE), which listed its Innogy (IGY.DE) unit last year.
“Mr Teyssen, you are a master in the art of survival and still at the helm of E.ON following the breakup,” said Thomas Deser, senior fund manager at Union Investment, pointing to the CEO’s mixed track record, whose contract runs until late 2018.
Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Editing by Maria Sheahan