June 26, 2014 / 5:30 AM / 4 years ago

Japan's Kyushu, Hokkaido Electric get approval for bailouts

TOKYO, June 26 (Reuters) - Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power and Hokkaido Electric Power received shareholder approval on Thursday for bailouts from a state-backed bank as the utilities struggle to cope with losses from a prolonged shutdown of nuclear reactors.

All of Japan’s 48 reactors remain shut more than three years after the Fukushima catastrophe, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

There is no timetable for restarts and atomic regulators remain bogged down in vetting applications to reboot reactors, with Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in southwestern Japan seen to be the closest to approval.

Shareholders on Thursday agreed to Kyushu Electric’s plan to issue 100 billion yen ($980 million) in preferred shares to state-owned Development Bank of Japan, as well as Hokkaido Electric’s bid to issue 50 billion yen in preferred shares to the bank.

Hokkaido Electric and Kyushu Electric respectively relied on nuclear plants to supply 30 percent and 42 percent of their electricity before 2011, and have posted three straight years of losses as they are forced to import expensive replacement fuels.

$1 = 102.0500 Japanese Yen Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and Mari Sato; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Joseph Radford

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