* Toshiba's Westinghouse, U.S. firm Exelon among potential
* Russian investors, Iberdrola/GDF Suez venture not part
* Deal discussions to take all summer
By Karolin Schaps
LONDON, May 4 Five groups, including Chinese,
U.S. and Middle Eastern investors, are interested in buying E.ON
and RWE's British nuclear joint venture
Horizon, a senior industry source said, highlighting renewed
international investor appetite for Europe's nuclear industry.
"There are five groups interested overall. The preferred
bidder will be the one who can take the site and build on it as
fast as possible," said the source, who has direct knowledge of
the deals but who asked not to be identified.
RWE and E.ON, under pressure from their home country
Germany's move to phase out nuclear power, announced in March
the sale of Horizon, which had planned to invest 15 billion
pounds to build at least 6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear plants
at two sites in Oldbury and Wylfa in Britain.
Parties interested in purchasing the venture include
U.S.-based Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba, a
Chinese investor, U.S. power company Exelon and Middle
Eastern investors, the source said without giving further
RWE, E.ON and Horizon refused to comment on the sales
Westinghouse UK also declined comment and Exelon said it
continually evaluated all opportunities, including mergers and
acquisitions, but did not want to comment on rumours about
specific M&A activity.
Russian nuclear investors and the NuGen UK nuclear joint
venture set up by Spain's Iberdrola and France's GDF
Suez were not among those interested at the moment, the
source said, but NuGen could still come forward with a proposal.
NuGen could not immediately be reached for comment.
A deal is unlikely to emerge before the summer as the
foreign investors will need time to familiarise themselves with
the UK market.
"It will take the summer to get the deal done just because
all the people coming in have not been in the UK before," the
Staff at Horizon based in Gloucester continue working on the
project whilst waiting for an investor to come forward.
"We are continuing with our activities vital to maintaining
value in the project and supporting our shareholders," a Horizon
Britain is in the process of reforming its electricity
market to establish a system which will reward producers of
low-carbon energy, including nuclear power.
Reform proposals are expected to be presented to parliament
before the summer.
The NuGen joint venture and French utility EDF are
two other groups planning to build new UK nuclear plants, which
the government is looking to as one of the future low-carbon
energy sources that will help to cut Britain's greenhouse gas
EDF, together with junior partner Centrica, plans to
build four new 1,600-megawatt (MW) European Pressurised water
Reactors (EPRs) on sites at Hinkley Point and Sizewell, while
NuGen has announced it will build 3,600 MW of new nuclear
capacity at its Moorside site in Cumbria.
NuGen was dealt its own blow last year when UK partner
utility SSE pulled out of the group to concentrate on
renewable energy instead.