Swiss energy firm latest in Europe to secure state aid

The Swiss government agreed Tuesday to offer financial help to power firm Axpo, the latest European energy company to require state aid after Russia’s war in Ukraine sent gas prices soaring.

The publicly-owned electricity group, which requested temporary government help last week, will have access to credit line of four billion Swiss francs ($4.1 billion) to ensure liquidity amid the energy crisis.

“The government responded favourably to avoid putting Switzerland’s energy supply in jeopardy,” the Federal Energy Office said in a statement, adding that Axpo was an electricity firm of “systemic importance” for the country.

Gas prices, which are closely linked to electricity prices, have soared over the summer as Russia cut supplies to Europe and French nuclear power output fell.

The statement said the situation worsened in recent days.

Other governments in Europe have offered billions of euros in loans to energy firms.

German energy giant Uniper said last week it would need an additional four billion euros in state-backed loans after already having used a nine-billion-euro credit line.

And Austria announced a two-billion-euro loan for Wien Energie, the country’s main electricity provider.

At the weekend, Sweden said it would provide liquidity guarantees to Nordic and Baltic energy companies worth billions of dollars in a bid to prevent a financial crisis sparked by Europe’s energy crunch.