May 8, 2020 / 1:29 PM / 23 days ago

Germany says has not decided on potential stake in TenneT

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany has had contact with the Netherlands about collaborating over power grids, but has not decided whether it might take a stake in Dutch state-owned power transmission grid operator TenneT, a spokeswoman for Germany’s economy ministry said.

The spokeswoman was responding to a report in German weekly magazine Der Spiegel which said, without saying where it obtained the information, that Berlin was planning to buy a stake in TenneT’s German operation IPO-TTH.AS.

“How and in what way such a collaboration can happen has not been decided,” the Economy Ministry spokeswoman said of the talks with the Netherlands.

Der Spiegel said German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz from the co-governing Social Democrats was backing buying a majority stake in TenneT’s German division, while Economy Minister Peter Altmaier from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats favoured a stake of less than 50%.

A Finance Ministry spokesman declined to comment.

Scholz and his Social Democrats are generally in favour of the state playing a bigger role in Germany’s grid operations, especially in light of massive investment needs to speed up the shift towards renewable energies.

Merkel’s conservatives are more sceptical in this regard and prefer a private sector solution wherever possible.

TenneT has been in talks with its owner for a while over how to plug a 2-3 billion euro ($2.2-$3.3 billion) equity funding gap to secure its ambitious 10-year spending plan.

A spokeswoman for TenneT reiterated the group was in ongoing talks with the Dutch state regarding its equity requirements, adding solutions were expected to be presented to the country’s parliament soon.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mark Potter

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