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More sectors to benefit from nuclear tech
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-11 06:05

The country's flagship nuclear reactor builder, China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), is applying its advanced technology to areas such as agriculture and medical treatment to improve production and efficiency.

By doing so, the builder expects annual sales to hit 5 billion yuan (US$616.5 million) by 2010.

The company also plans to list two of its subsidiaries involved in the nuclear technology application field on the stock exchange, said Fan Jihong, a director in charge of new technology industrialization at China Nuclear, in an interview yesterday in Beijing.

"We aim to float the two companies on the domestic stock market, and raise less than 1 billion yuan (US$123 million)," Fan said.

The Beijing-based nuclear reactor builder now has more than 30 subsidiaries operating in the technology application business, most of which were transformed from previous research institutes.

By the end of last year, China Nuclear recorded total assets of about 2 billion yuan (US$246.6 million) in the nuclear technology application business, and its total revenue reached 1.55 billion yuan (US$191 million), with profits reaching 80 million yuan (US$9.9 million).

New technologies in the nuclear industry, if successfully adopted in agricultural fields, environmental protection and security inspection, will greatly enhance their efficiency.

For example, nuclear radiation can be used to increase food freshness without applying special chemicals.

"We foresee huge market potential for the business in China, and the domestic market scale is expected to increase by an annual 18 per cent and to reach 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) by 2010," said Fan.

Beijing Atom Hightech Co Ltd, which was established by the reactor builder in 2001, is one of the two companies that CNNC plans to list on the stock exchange.

Beijing Atom's sales revenue last year reached 187 million yuan (US$23 million), and its profit was around 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million).

The other to-be-floated firm will be set up through consolidation of CNNC's existing subsidiaries operating in the technology application business, but the size of the new company has yet to be determined, said Fan.

China Nuclear is not the only market player for the business in the country. China now has more than 300 such companies across the nation, most of which are privately owned, according to Fan.

"Private business owners are moving fast into the sector, as the market foresees a robust demand for the technology to be applied in such a wide range of industries," said Shu Weiguo, chairman of Beijing Atom, yesterday in a press conference.

The private firms are hiring technology professionals to start the business, with capital size smaller than those of CNNC, said Li Chaoshun, general manager of CNNC HuaKang Radiation Technology Co.

China Nuclear will scale up investment to further explore the business, and the company is also open to private firms and even foreign counterparts for partnership, said Fan.

"Our current business scale is far from what we expect to reach," he said.

Compared with foreign companies such as GE and Siemens, the domestic market players still lag behind in terms of technology and equipment manufacturing. The country still has to import some high-end petrochemical materials produced with nuclear technology.

"There is much room for further growth, and of course that needs more investment," said Fan.

(China Daily 01/11/2006 page9)

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