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China eyeing fourth UK nuclear project

By Zheng Xin in Beijing and Cecily Liu in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-20 07:27

Chinese nuclear power giant China General Nuclear Power Corp said on Monday it is exploring a bid to invest in Toshiba's troubled 15-billion-pound ($20 billion) nuclear power station on the Cumbrian coast in northwestern England.

Huang Xiaofei, a spokesman for CGN, told China Daily the company is prepared to bid to make an equity investment in NuGeneration, the company behind Moorside, utilizing CGN's more than 30 years of experience in nuclear design, construction and operation to support the UK nuclear industry's development.

The State-owned company already holds a 33.5 percent stake in the Hinkley Point in Somerset, has a 20 percent holding in a scheme at Sizewell in Suffolk, and a 66.5 percent share in the Bradwell power station in Essex.

Known as Moorside, the power station is projected to generate 3.8 gigawatts of power, which is enough to supply electricity to up to 6 million households in the United Kingdom.

Analysts said CGN's attempt to explore a bid for the reactor project is part of its effort to use the UK as a springboard to further export its HPR1000 nuclear technology globally.

"Should CGN actually get the deal it would give tremendous boost in its bid to export its experience and know-how abroad," said Joseph Jacobelli, a senior analyst of Asia utilities at Bloomberg Intelligence

"China is definitely one of the technology leaders, and its experience in China and strong policy and financing backing for overseas projects would help the company."

According to a report on China's power utilities M&A trends by Bloomberg Intelligence, domestic and overseas M&As by Chinese electric power utilities are expected to accelerate in the next few quarters thanks to financial strength and policy support.

Jacobelli also warns that CGN may face hurdles including the possibility that the UK may not want a more diversified group of companies running its nuclear generation industry.

NuGeneration, which is more commonly known as NuGen, was a 60-40 percent joint venture between Japan's Toshiba and France's Engie. Earlier this year, Engie quit the consortium by selling its 40 percent stake to Toshiba.

Engie's departure from the consortium triggered Toshiba to contemplate selling NuGen. Several bidders have expressed an interest in buying into the ownership of NuGen.

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