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2 more Uniper executives resign as standoff over Fortum takeover continues


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2 more Uniper executives resign as standoff over Fortum takeover continues

Uniper SE announced May 26 that two of its executives will resign from their respective positions with the company, effective Nov. 30, in response to Fortum Oyj's move to postpone the discharge of the management board for the 2017 and 2018 financial years during Uniper's annual general meeting on May 22.

COO Eckhardt Rümmler and Chief Commercial Officer Keith Martin will also terminate their board mandates, the German fossil generator and trading company said in a May 26 news release.

"[P]ostponing the vote of discharge yet another year effectively puts undue pressure on them to behave in certain ways. On this basis, it is simply impossible for Eckhardt Rümmler and Keith Martin to continue," Uniper Chairman Bernhard Reutersberg said in the release.

Uniper and Fortum have been locked in a standoff since Fortum bought a large stake in Uniper from Germany's E.ON SE last year because Uniper has opposed full ownership by the Finnish state-controlled power generator Fortum. The two companies in February reached an understanding to begin cooperation talks aimed at finding a way forward, with Uniper CEO Klaus Schäfer and CFO Christopher Delbrück agreeing to step down from their positions. In early May, Uniper announced the appointment of Andreas Schierenbeck as CEO and Sascha Bibert as CFO, effective June 1.

The Finnish company currently owns a 49.99% stake in Uniper and is currently blocked from owning more due to a regulatory ruling in Russia. Fortum had reportedly reached a deal with two activist investors, Elliott Management Corp. and Knight Vinke Asset Management LLC, committing to gain majority control of the Uniper.

In a separate statement the same day, Fortum President and CEO Pekka Lundmark said the decision to postpone the discharge of the management board was a result of the "lack of transparency on management conduct during and after our Public Takeover Offer, not a sign of mistrust of management as a whole." Fortum will now focus on establishing dialogue with the new CEO and CFO and "reignite our talks," Lundmark said.