15 September 2010 19:33 [Source: ICIS news]
Changes in the schedule for the phase-out would directly affect specialty chemicals major Evonik as proceeds from the sale of Evonik are meant to cover environmental costs associated with the closure of coal mines, located mainly in Germany’s largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Under a 2007 coal compromise between German energy firms, union and federal and state governments, the country plans to phase out subsidised hard coal production by 2018, with a review set for 2012.
Chemical union head Michael Vassiliadis said the Oettinger's proposal for an early review was not helpful and incomprehensible.
“We expect all parties to abide by the  agreement,” Vassiliadis said.
Vassiliadis had warned earlier that ending subsidised coal production four years ahead of schedule could precipitate divestments and hit employment at Evonik, which has a staff of some 40,000.
However, German commentators said Merkel may yet welcome an early phase-out as it could save the government estimated subsidy payments of €5.0bn ($6.5bn) at a time when it is seeking to cut deficits and reduce debts.
Evonik is majority owned by RAG-Stiftung, a coal foundation charged with overseeing the coal phase-out. Private equity firm CVC owns a 25.01% minority stake in Evonik which it bought in 2008 for €2.4bn.
($1 = €0.77)
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