Uniper, Germany’s biggest gas importer, is asking for a government bailout.

Mr Maubach has asked the government to compensate Uniper for the higher costs, possibly passing on price increases to customers.

Mr. Maubach also wants the government to strengthen the 2 billion euro line of credit it already has with KfW, the German public investment bank. Finally, he proposes that the government take a substantial stake – more than 10% – in Uniper, partly to give more certainty to financial markets and rating agencies.

Investor confidence in the company is waning. Uniper’s share price has fallen about 75% since January, and on Tuesday, S&P Global, the securities rating agency, said it was putting the company’s debt on watch for a possible downgrade. Uniper was now “dependent on external factors, including government support”, he said.

To complicate the situation, Uniper is majority owned by Fortum, a Finnish company, which is expected to agree to the bailout terms.

Although it is not yet clear what action the government will take, what seems certain is that a combination of consumers and taxpayers will end up paying to maintain the functions performed by Uniper and bear the rising costs of the gas.

Customers are now receiving gas on agreed terms in 2020 and 2021, when gas was selling for a tenth or even less of the current price. “The big wave of price increases will only be ahead,” Maubach said.

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