Finnish Fennovoima says new investor may be reactor supplier

HELSINKI Tue Nov 6, 2012 7:16am EST

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The new head of Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima, whose reactor project was thrown into doubt by the withdrawal of its biggest investor E.ON (EONGn.DE) last month, said a new investor in the venture could also be a supplier for the planned plant.

Fennovoima is due to choose next year between potential suppliers Areva (AREVA.PA) or Toshiba (6502.T) to build its planned reactor in Pyhajoki, northern Finland.

"I just note that if you look at similar type of projects as the Fennovoima project, then quite often you see an arrangement where the utility, or the project, is supported by... the plant suppliers as well, whether directly or indirectly," Chief Executive Juha Nurmi told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Nurmi cited as an example Japanese energy and engineering company Hitachi's (6501.T) investment in the British nuclear project Horizon when it took over the venture from German utilities E.ON and RWE (RWEG.DE).

Nurmi was appointed CEO on Oct 25, shortly after E.ON, which was its biggest single shareholder with a 34 percent stake said it would withdraw from Finland.

E.ON's exit raised doubts over the future of the Pyhajoki reactor, which is aimed at providing cheap energy to shareholders such as stainless steel maker Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE), retailer Kesko (KESBV.HE) and subsidiaries of Swedish metals firm Boliden (BOL.ST).

Nurmi declined to elaborate on the possibility of investment from Areva or Toshiba, saying other deals were also possible such as increased investment from existing owners.

But he said he was confident Fennovoima could proceed with the project as existing owners still needed access to cheap electricity.

"The fundamental reasons and the needs for this project have not changed," he said.

(Editing by James Jukwey)

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