Britain, France to sign Hinkley Point nuclear deal on Thursday - sources

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LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - The British government and France's EDF EDF.PA will officially sign a contract to build Britain's first new nuclear power plant in a generation on Thursday, after months of wrangling over the involvement of EDF's Chinese partner, sources said.

British, French and Chinese government officials will be among those attending the signing ceremony in London on Thursday afternoon, which will formalise the deal for French state-controlled utility EDF to build the Hinkley Point C plant in southwest England, backed by $8 billion (£6.1 billion) of Chinese cash.

It will be a second attempt at finalising the deal after a signing ceremony set for July 29 was cancelled at the last minute when British Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly announced she needed more time to verify the $24 billion deal.

The British government finally gave the go-ahead this month, after including the proviso that it will have the right to block the sale of EDF’s controlling stake before or after completion of the project.

The delay strained Britain’s ties with China just as it is trying to reach out to non-European trading partners following its decision to leave the European Union.

Thursday’s ceremony is expected to be more low key than the one planned for July. It will be attended by France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Britain’s Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, as well as China’s National Energy Administration Director Nuer Bekri; EDF Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy; and He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), the project’s Chinese state-backed investor, the sources familiar with the matter said.

EDF approved the revised terms of the deal on Tuesday, setting the process for a formal agreement in motion.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps and Kate Holton in London and Geert de Clercq in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton