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Vattenfall out of German coal business

September 30, 2016

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has said it has finalized its complete withdrawal from its coal operations in Germany. The company reiterated its view that it had to move on to focus a lot more on renewables.

Open-cast mine in eastern Germany
Image: picture-alliance/ZB/J. Kalaene

Swedish state-owned power company Vattenfall said Friday it had completed the sale of its coal operations in Germany a week after receiving approval for the move from the European Commission.

Vattenfall had operated four lignite coal mines and several coal-fired power plants in the Lusatia region in eastern Germany, employing roughly 8,000 people.

Vattenfall was able to sell its German coal business to a Czech consortium comprised of energy firm EPH and its financial partner, PPF Investments.

Controversial transaction

The EU executive concluded on September 22 that "the deal will not adversely affect competition in the relevant markets."

German power utilities hit by transition to renewables

The Swedish utility argues the sale was part of its strategy to pull out of the coal sector altogether amid a shift toward renewable sources of energy.

The new owner of Vattenfall's former mines and plants in eastern Germany, EPH, had pledged in summer to take over the Swedish firm's collective bargaining agreement, meaning in essence that no jobs can be slashed before 2020.

EPH took over the assets, including cash, worth 15 billion kronor ($1.8 billion, 1.6 billion euros), as well as liabilities and provisions totaling 18 billion kronor.

Environmental pressure groups had frequently criticized the sale, arguing the coal should have remained in the ground to avoid global warming.

hg/sri (AFP, dpa)