* Westinghouse seen buying out Iberdrola's NuGen stake
* GDF Suez keen to be operator of Sellafield plants-source
* Investment decision, schedule await UK power market reform
MADRID/PARIS, Sept 20 Spanish utility Iberdrola
, which has announced a huge asset sale to pay down
debts, is in talks to sell off its 50 percent stake in British
nuclear consortium NuGen to Toshiba-owned nuclear plant builder
Westinghouse, a source with knowledge of the talks told Reuters
NuGen, a joint venture of Iberdrola and French utility GDF
Suez, owns a site at Sellafield on the remote northwest
coast of England where it plans to build 3.6 gigawatt (GW) of
Britain has an ambitious nuclear new build programme to
replace aging and polluting power plants by the middle of next
decade and says it is keen to encourage investment.
But regulatory changes after Japan's Fukushima accident and
squabbles about how much public money should be handed to
companies for new plants have slowed down progress.
Discussions between the British government and French
utility EDF, which plans another nuclear plant in
south-western England, have dragged on for more than a year over
the guaranteed price to be paid to producers of electricity from
new nuclear plants.
Iberdrola is immersed in a strategy to sell 2 billion euros
of assets by 2014 to cut debt, but has said it plans to focus
new investments in the UK.
It was not immediately clear why the Spanish utility, which
owns Scottish Power, one of Britain's top six utilities, would
want to offload the NuGen stake.
NuGen has owned the Sellafield site for nearly four years
but has made little progress compared with EDF's Hinkley Point C
scheme and projects at Wylfa and Oldbury, bought last year by
Toshiba-Westinghouse has strong ambitions to sell nuclear
plants abroad after the Fukushima disaster put a damper on plans
to build new reactors in Japan and enjoys strong government
backing as well as financing.
"Iberdrola wants to sell its 50 percent stake. It has been
in talks with Westinghouse but as things stand right now it is
not a done deal," a source with knowledge of the negotiations
A deal could be announced as early as next week, said the
source, who declined to be identified.
The Financial Times said on Friday Westinghouse also wants
to buy part of GDF Suez's 50 per cent stake.
"Nothing has been decided at this time," a Toshiba spokesman
said. GDF Suez declined to comment.
An industrial source told Reuters that while GDF Suez would
welcome new partners in the NuGen consortium, the French utility
is keen to become sole operator of the nuclear plants.