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Future of UK's Moorside nuclear project in question as Toshiba's French partner backs out

05 April 2017

Toshiba has been forced to buy out the French utility Engie from a project to build three nuclear reactors in Moorside, northwest England, adding to uncertainty over the project. Engie said on April 4 it was exercising its right to sell its 40% stake in the NuGen venture to Toshiba following the bankruptcy of the Japanese firm’s Westinghouse nuclear power plant business. 

Artist's impression of Moorside - Image: NuGen
Artist's impression of Moorside - Image: NuGen

Toshiba will pay 15.3 billion yen ($139m) for the stake. Toshiba is now the sole owner of NuGen, but has said it is looking for more investors to join the $15-20bn project or to sell out altogether.

The filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by Toshiba’s US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric last month was as “an event of default” that allowed Engie to exercise its option to sell its stake to Toshiba, the Japanese firm said.

Toshiba added the $139m purchase price was equivalent to what Engie had invested in NuGen or the open market value of the stake. The Japanese group paid $139m in late 2013 when it purchased a 50% stake in NuGen from Spain’s Iberdrola.

The UK government has been working to attract new investors to NuGen. Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) is a potential investor: its chief executive said last month it was in talks to buy a stake in NuGen.

Britain’s energy minister is currently in South Korea for talks on future collaboration between the two countries, including nuclear projects, a government spokeswoman said.

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