Japan govt eyes Tepco common shares-Jiji
TOKYO Jan 8 (Reuters) - Japan's government is preparing to take control of Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, by buying a majority stake in its common shares, Jiji News Agency said.
The government may inject about $13 billion into Tepco as early as next summer, sources told Reuters last month, effectively nationalising it through a purchase by a government-run bailout fund of newly issued Tepco shares.
Tepco faces mammoth compensation and cleanup costs that could tumble the utility into negative net worth after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at its Fukushima plant.
The government had previously considered buying preferred shares without voting rights in Tepco, but was now opting for more control to better push forward proposed changes such as separating the utility's power generation and distribution arms, Jiji said in a Saturday report.
Tepco officials declined to comment while government officials were not available for comment.
The long-discussed breakup of power generation and distribution would dent regional power companies' monopolies and open the sector to new players.
Tepco, which is also shouldering large thermal fuel costs to replace lost nuclear power, aims to compile a restructuring plan by March that may include electricity rate rises. (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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